Collaborative Circle Blog

Preparing for Being a Reader Small-group Reading Instruction

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, Gr. 2.
  • Learning the expectations for independent work.
  • Engaging in choral and echo reading of shared books, K-1.
  • Sorting words by short vowels and beginning a “Ways We Have Sorted” chart, Gr. 2.
  • Using “Turn to Your Partner.”
  • Using “Turn and Look at the Speaker.”
  • Using “Think Pair Share,” Gr. 2.
  • Listening respectfully and responsibly.

Now, it is 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.

Preparing for Small-group Instruction in Sets 1-5

Students New to Being a Reader: Placement and Grouping

The Placement Assessment is designed to quickly and efficiently assess what your students know and to place them accurately in Small-group Sets 1–5. (It is NOT a pre- and post-test.)

  1. Read the Placement Assessment directions, including “Preparing for the Assessment,” “Conducting the Assessment,” and “Interpreting the Assessment Results” sections located at the Small-group Reading tab of the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book.
  2. Administer the Placement Assessment. We recommend you jot down notes, including specific errors. This information may be helpful as you are creating small groups.
  3. Group for instruction using the “Forming and Managing Small Groups” section in the Assessment Resource Book, including the bulleted guidance and the placement guidance in the “If the student does not pass…” suggestions at the end of each section of the Placement Assessment.
Students Continuing Being a Reader: Placement and Grouping

Do not re-administer the Placement Assessment to students who are continuing with Being a Reader instruction; the data from the previous year are enough to place them in the program.

To correctly place students who had Being a Reader instruction during the previous school year and did not complete Sets 1-5:

  1. Look up the last passed Mastery Test of the previous school year to determine Set and Week.
  2. Once the Set and Week are determined, identify the phonics, high-frequency words, and books associated with the previous weeks of instruction in the given Set.
  3. For the first week of instruction, review the identified phonics and high-frequency words taught in previous weeks and provide opportunities for the students to reread the associated books. This review will give the students time to remember the routines and prepare them for new content.
  4. Begin instruction.

After you start instruction, you may notice students who struggle after the first Mastery Test. These students may not have had strong instruction or sufficient reading practice the previous year. If you suspect that this is the case, you may wish to administer the placement assessment to confirm whether the students have mastered previously taught material.

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

Planning for Small-group Instruction in Sets 1–5

Select a set and watch a recorded discussion of Collaborative Classroom colleagues sharing their planning considerations and how they use materials for small-group reading instruction. Each discussion addresses the Introduction, the Set Overview, and Week #, and suggests things to consider when planning for a week of instruction.

The following weeks are featured in the recorded discussions:

  • Set 1, Week 5
  • Set 2, Week 8
  • Set 3, Week 3
  • Set 4, Week 8
  • Set 5, Week 9

Here’s the phonics! As you are watching the recorded discussions and planning for instruction, keep in mind that the foundational skills are taught through Sets 1–5, not in the whole-class setting. In Sets 1–5, students receive explicit, systematic instruction in phonological awareness, spelling-sounds, and high-frequency words. As they learn to read accurately and automatically, the students also learn that understanding what they are reading is paramount. Sets 1–3 address kindergarten foundational skills. Sets 4-5 address first grade foundational skills.

For more information on planning for Sets 1 and 2, read the “What is Continuous Blending and Why Is It Important?” blog post.

For additional support, watch Sessions 3 and 4 of the “Being a Reader Small-group Reading Instruction, Grades K-2” webinar series.

Preparing for Small-group Instruction in Sets 6-12

Placement and Grouping

Consider the instructional needs of the students.

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

Locate and review the “Reading Strategies in Small-group Reading Sets 6–12” chart located in the Introduction in Sets 6–10 of 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 wondering as a foundational skill for comprehending text.
  • Introduce identifying topic as 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.
  • Continue to develop self-monitoring.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to practice generating independent thinking and responding 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 instructional information about the Introduction, the Set Overview, and suggests things to consider when 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.