Collaborative Circle Blog

Kindergarten: Grouping Considerations for Students Who Place in Set 4 and Beyond

For our youngest readers, we want to intentionally plan experiences that develop their love of reading as they learn to read! We also want our kindergarten students to develop automaticity and accuracy. The reading experiences in Shared Reading, Small-Group Reading, and Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) are designed to meet these goals by providing students with a variety of opportunities to read large amounts of appropriate text.

Small-group instruction is one important part of the kindergarten reading experience and decisions around appropriate placement and grouping require concerted attention. You will need to consider both the needs of the students and the teaching opportunities and texts to determine what instruction best meets students’ needs. With that in mind, we are providing a few considerations to support your grouping, planning, and instruction.

Instructional Considerations

For students who place into Small-Group Reading Set 4 or below:

Provide the instruction as intended in those sets. Students who complete Set 4 have mastered single consonants, consonant diagraphs, short vowels, consonant blends, long vowels (final e), and inflectional endings. We do not recommend placing kindergarten students beyond Set 4.

For students who successfully complete Set 4:

  • Provide on-going phonological awareness practice by repeating the phonological awareness routines in Sets 3 and 4.
  • Continue to review any high-frequency words the students have not mastered from Sets 1–4.
  • Provide additional foundational skills instruction in phonological awareness and reading mixed lists routines. Click here to access the instruction.
  • Have the students read a lot to further develop fluency and comprehension. (See below for suggestions about book selection.)

For students who place beyond Set 4 on the initial placement assessment:

  • Identify any high-frequency words from Sets 1­–4 the students do not know by reviewing the placement assessment. Teach and review these words using the card deck. If you did not use the placement assessment, you can identify unknown words by having the students read the words from a review deck made up of the words from Sets 1–4.
  • Provide additional foundational skills instruction in phonological awareness and reading mixed lists routines. Click here to access the instruction.
  • Have the students read a lot to further develop fluency and comprehension. (See below for suggestions about book selection.)

For students who are reading around Guided Reading levels D, E, and F:

Provide many books at these levels as well as all the books used in Small-Group Reading Sets 3 and 4 to continue to build accuracy and automaticity. Focus instruction and conferring on:

  • Story elements
  • Self-correcting
  • Self-monitoring
  • Reading and rereading to develop fluency

For students reading above Guided Reading level F:

Pause to reflect on the types of books students might read. Although these students may be able to decode books at higher levels, some books may not be appropriate. Consider:

  • Guided Reading levels take into consideration the complexity of the topic, not just the decoding challenges.
  • Students who can successfully decode more challenging books still may not be prepared to navigate the themes or have the needed background knowledge or schema to make meaning of the text.

To name an extreme, I once met a 10-year-old who was reading All Quiet on the Western Front. No matter what decoding ability this child had, his comprehension of this text would be surface level at best. He just did not have the background or schema for life in the trenches during World War I.

For classrooms in which students reading at these higher levels is the norm, we suggest that you look at Collaborative Classroom’s SIPPS Fluency Practice Libraries for grades 1–3 for examples of the types of texts that will work best in kindergarten. Look for texts that include primarily decodable words on topics that students will be familiar with. Picture support will be especially important.

 You might create small groups of students reading the same text and confer with them as a group, focusing on:

  • Story elements
  • Retelling
  • Making text-to-self connections
  • Considering the points of view of characters