I will start with the two resources which have been the most helpful to me. They are Debbie Diller's DVD Think Small! Engaging Our Youngest Readers in Small Groups and Debbie Diller's book Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All.
Guided Reading Tips and Suggestions
1) Ask a HOTS (higher order thinking skills) question after reading the book. For example, after reading the book Woof!, I had students look at the picture on the last page and tell me what they thought the animals in the picture were thinking about the dog. After they answered, I asked them to explain their thinking and tell me why they thought that. I wanted students to tell me the animals were surprised and that they could tell because of how their mouths were open and their eyes were very large. I also wanted students to take notice of the dog's head being tilted back and his mouth being opened wide, showing us that he was barking very loudly. I asked a basic recall question first (name an animal in the book and the sound it made) and then asked the HOTS question.
2) When making words with magnetic letters, have the kids "shampoo" the letters in between making new words. For some reason mixing up magnetic letters sounds more fun when you get to shampoo them!
2) Group students using Debbie Diller's flexible groups folder. Both of Debbie's resources I mentioned above have the printables needed to make the flexible small groups folder. You can also purchase the folder from Really Good Stuff.
The strips in the folder group skills by reading level and specifically state what skills students at that level should be able to do. It makes grouping students so easy. The folder is also designed so that you can easily move student's names when moving them to another group. If you use the printables from the DVD or book, you can use mini post-it notes for your student's names.
3) Organize your small group area. Consider where your word wall is. If possible, near your small group area, create a large-print word wall that is low and interactive.
If your room is not arranged so that your small group meets near the word wall, you may want to have a portable word wall to use during your guided reading groups.
3) Organize and label a separate basket or bin for each small group you have. You can place the readers and materials you need for your lesson in the basket so that everything is right at your fingertips when you are ready to start.
4) Label containers of baskets with concepts such as oral language, rhyming, phonemic awareness, letter ID, writing, and phonics. Fill these containers with the materials you have which you could use when teaching each of these concepts. When things are easy to find and get to, you tend to use them more often. This will help as you need to switch out materials. For example, your letter id basket might hold letter sound BINGO, letter tiles, magnetic letters, sound sorts, letter matching cards.
5) Whisper phones help students hear themselves better while blocking out the voices of those sitting around them. This whisper phone works great with students and it came from Mardel Christian Book Store and Teacher Supply Store.
This type of whisper phone works great as well.
6) Front load the book. Set your students up to be successful as they read the book. You can front load the book by reviewing and making sight words in the book, pulling out new words that may be hard to sound out, or taking a picture walk to make sure students know the vocabulary being used in the book.
When front loading this book and getting students ready to read, this is what I did....
We used magnetic letters to make the word wall words "said" and "dog." I used a dry erase board to quickly talk about "can" and "can't" and the word "but." We did a picture walk to make sure students knew the names of each animal and the sound it makes.
I deliberately chose this book for one of the higher groups because it changed the text pattern on the last page. I intentionally did not address the word "bark" in the pre-reading portion of the lesson because I wanted to see how the kids did with it on their own.
I purchased a new book today that I am very excited about! I plan to get started on it over spring break, so be looking for more reading tips and ways to support struggling readers in the near future.