Collaborative Circle Blog

Preparing for Being a Reader Small-group Reading Instruction in Sets 6–12

Congratulations! You have completed the early weeks of instruction. You and your students have established a classroom community where students feel safe and connected, and your students are learning what it means to be vibrant members of a literacy community.

During reading instruction, students have been:

  • Making text-to-text connections
  • Answering questions to understand stories
  • Considering the points of view of characters
  • Learning the expectations for independent work
  • Using “Turn to Your Partner”
  • Using “Turn and Look at the Speaker”
  • Using “Think Pair Share”
  • Listening respectfully and responsibly

Now is the time to prepare for small-group reading instruction! First, reflect on your students’ engagement in the “Setting the Foundation” lessons during Independent Work to determine if they can work independently enough that there will not be constant interruptions when you teach small-group lessons. If you believe they can, let’s get started! If not, don’t rush! Instead of starting small groups, revisit the “Setting the Foundation” lessons, analyze the students’ work habits, and reteach or practice those habits.


At Collaborative Classroom, we strive to extend our learning through our experiences interacting with you and your students! Recent opportunities to learn from other educators during Session 3 of our “Embarking on the Journey with Collaborative Literacy” webinar series and conversations on our Collaborative Classroom Community Facebook prompted us to revise this blog with information we learned during the webinar.

Preparing for Small-group Instruction in Sets 6–12

Placement and Grouping

Consider the instructional needs of the students.

  1. Which types of text can they read with 98% accuracy?
  2. What is their level of independence? *
  3. What strategy instruction do they need to better comprehend text?
  4. What genre support might be needed to develop flexibility?

*Based on our recent discussions during Session 3 of the “Embarking on the Journey with Collaborative Literacywebinar series, we want to emphasize the question, “What is their level of independence?” Why? Starting in Set 10, the students are required to read outside of the small-group lesson, journal about the reading, and bring their thinking to the small-group table. This requires students to be able to take responsibility for preparing for small groups. For students who still need a lot of teacher support, we encourage you to work toward independence using Sets 7–9 even if the texts are easy for the students. The texts in Sets 7–9 may be easy for the students to read, but the instruction supports the social skill development needed for students to take more responsibility for their own reading as well as comprehension development.

Now, let’s continue the placement of students for small groups! With the student considerations in mind, locate and review the “Reading Strategies in Small-group Reading Sets 6–12” chart located in the Introduction in the Small-group Teacher’s Manual to learn more about the progression of instruction through the sets.

Determine: Which set best meets the instructional needs of the group of students?

Set 6 lessons:
  • Support fluency (prosody) development
  • Support the transition from controlled-vocabulary text into trade books
  • Support language development for deeper conversations with others about texts

To learn more about Set 6 lessons, read the “What is the purpose of Set 6 in Being a Reader? Which students might benefit from the instruction in this set?” blog post. 

Sets 7–8 lessons:
  • Continue to support fluency development
  • Focus on retelling
  • Address expository text strategies
  • Address more complicated narrative texts and chapter books
  • Include wonderingas a foundational skill for comprehending text
  • Introduce identifying topicas a basis for more sophisticated work
  • Include specific lessons on self-monitoring for comprehension
  • Introduce generating independent thinking 
Sets 9–10 lessons:
  • Focus on character development in fiction
  • Continue to develop identifying topic in nonfiction
  • Continue to develop self-monitoring
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to generate independent thinkingand respond to literature.

For additional support, watch Session 1 of the “Being a Reader Small-group Reading Instruction, Grades K-2” webinar series.

Planning for Small-group Instruction in Sets 6–12

Select a set and watch a recorded discussion of Collaborative Classroom colleagues sharing their planning considerations and how they use materials during small-group reading instruction. Each discussion addresses the Introduction and the Set Overview and supports planning for instruction for the identified book.

The following books are featured in the recorded discussions:

  • Set 6, New School
  • Sets 7 and 8, What’s It Like to Be an Ant?
  • Sets 9 and 10, Happy Like Soccer

For additional support, watch Session 5 of the “Being a Reader Small-group Reading Instruction, Grades K–2” webinar series.

For additional support, watch Sessions 3 and 5 of the “Embarking on the Journey with Collaborative Literacy” webinar series.

Grouping Implications for Kindergarten and Grade 1 Students

It is important to consider the appropriate placement of students within texts and teaching opportunities that might best meet the needs of students in kindergarten and Grade 1. With that in mind, we wanted to provide instructional considerations for students in these grades who might place beyond Set 5.

Instructional Considerations for Kindergarten

For our youngest readers, we want to intentionally plan reading experiences that develop their love of reading and automaticity and accuracy and that provide opportunities for large amounts of reading in appropriate texts. We do not recommend placing kindergarten students beyond Set 4.**

Engage kindergartners who successfully complete Set 4 in large amounts of reading texts such as those in Sets 3 and 4 (including the practice books) and a wide variety of books at or around Guided Reading levels D, E, F to develop accuracy and automaticity. Focus conferring around understanding story elements, self-correcting and self-monitoring, and continuing to read and reread text to develop fluency.

At the same time, continue to provide instruction in phonological awareness and reading mixed lists. Click here for guidance.

**By the end of Set 4, students have mastered single consonants, consonant diagraphs, short vowels, consonant blends, long vowels, final e, and inflectional endings.

Instructional Considerations for Grade 1 Students

Continue instruction for students who successfully complete Sets 1–5*** in Sets 6–8.   The strategic comprehension work and social development in these sets supports students for the level of independence required for IDR. We do not recommend using Sets 9–12 with Grade 1 students because of the sophistication of the texts used there.

***By the end of Set 5 students have mastered single consonants, consonant diagraphs, short vowels, consonant blends, long vowels, final e, inflectional endings, and complex vowels.

For additional support, watch Session 2 of the “Strengthening the Power of Collaborative Literacy Instruction” webinar series.