Reading Groups - My plan for 2016

Hi everyone! Jem here. After reading, and being inspired by, Sheri's post about how she runs her literacy rotations, I've been thinking through what works for me and what needed a revamp. In 2016 I'm moving from Prep (Foundation/Kindergarten) to grade 2/3. A change of grade means a new plan for my reading groups!

Over the past four years I've tried lots of things in reading, including Daily 5-style lessons, Literacy Block Framework Reading Groups, very very small groups (2-3 children) and big groups (6-7 children), as well as only having small groups for Guided Reading and having all of the other students completing the same task. Different things worked different years with different students. I've displayed my groups on a printed/laminated task board, on the SMARTBoard and just using those magical rainbow trolley tubs!

I love those tubs!


I've used photocopied activities, lots of fine motor activities, resource-heavy tasks, and often that's lots of time-consuming preparation for me. Which I've loved, and the kids love, and works for lots of teachers, and worked for me for many years.


But I thought I'd use my change of grade as an opportunity to try something a little different. So my goal for 2016 with my reading groups is the good ol'

This is also one of Christie's New Year's Resolutions for Teachers 2016

With this in mind I started to browse Pinterest research different models for the reading block. I reread my Daily 5 and CAFE books, I read about Reader's Workshop, I looked back over everything I'd pinned about literacy, and I caught up with and had fantastic conversations with teacher-friends about their literacy block (particularly Kate, who was a huge inspiration for this new plan!). This is my (current) model for 2016:

After our reading mini-lesson students will do independent reading, building stamina every week. While my students are reading I will do reading conferences and one-on-one assessments. Also, 2-3 times for week students will meet with their reading buddy (which I'll assign based on similar abilities) to chat about the books they've read and to read to each other.


After independent reading students will get to choose from a set of reading tasks, BUT they must be able to tell me what they will be practicing at that activity and why they think they need to be working on that task (eg. they might be working on a spelling goal so they will choose to do a spelling activity). While my students are doing their self-selected activity I will pull out a group to do Guided Reading. If the students are having trouble completing their tasks, they will go to the Book Corner to read quietly. The general plan being: less photocopying, added choice, more reading!

I will introduce tasks slowly, and only give a few choices at a time. I'm not entirely sure if I'll have all choices open all the time, or not. The column on the right shows how I will set up those magical rainbow drawers - the little twist is that I had two of the trolleys, and I've swapped over the drawers so that the one I'll be using matches my classroom colour scheme (blue and green) and the other one is at home holding other stuff.

Task Cards

The Vocabulary activities and the Comprehension activities will both be task cards. There are 10 vocab cards and over 20 comprehension cards (some for fiction and some for non-fiction). Students will just pull out their reading workbook (a lined book), take out their current take-home reading book, or a book they love from the book corner, and choose a task card. I'll probably leave the task cards in for all of term 1, maybe add some new ideas, but basically because there will be so many options and they will be able to complete the task for any book I'm hoping that they will stay engaged with the activity - with very little revision from me!


For spelling, there will be two/three levels of differentiated spelling lists (depends what my students need), so students will just grab the correct spelling list then choose from four options to practice their spelling words: scrabble tiles, letter stamps, old computer keyboards or letter beads.


I will change these out every few weeks based on what we're working on. We've got lots of great things around school that my students will get to play. Some personal favs are the games similar to Pop for Sight Words, like Shiver Me Timbers! and Hey Presto from Lauren Kuhn. I also just found Junior Scrabble at an Op Shop ($4 total bargain!).


Listen to Reading

I'm so excited that I've figured out how I can do this in my classroom with the technology I already have available!! We have 9 (old) iPod Touches at school, they are 2nd Gen and were originally released in 2008 (yikes!). They don't have cameras and lots of apps don't work on them, but YouTube does! So I've made some 'sets' of YouTube stories that students will have access to, and they can choose which story they'd like to listen to. I made 7 sets, so I'll change them over every 4-5 weeks. Below are 6/7 of the sets, with 6 books in each set. I found Storyline Online and Storytimeanytime are fantastic - and Storytimeanytime is Australian!!

GR Basket

Right on top of the column in the image above was a light green box - it shows where I store my basket with all of my Guided Reading resources in it (witch fingers, mini-torches, magic wands, sight words cards, etc.). Guided Reading will stay the same as I have done it in the past for term 1, until I get my head around where my students are at academically and what they need in small group reading instruction.


That's the plan. Less photocopying, less changing activities, more reading and more choice for my students. I'm particularly excited about adding choice to reading activities (which I've never done before)!
I'd love to hear about how you do reading groups - what works for you? What will you change in the new year?


Here are some products that you might like to use in your reading program.

For partner/small group chats about books try Reading comprehension strategies dice game

For guided reading time, or reciprocal reading time try HOT - Reciprocal teaching bundle

To encourage independent reading try Read Around Australia

Til next time,


  1. Thank you so much for outlining what you have done in the past and sharing with us the new structure you'll be using. It sounds like a great plan. I look forward to hearing how it goes!

  2. What an awesome blog post Jem - I know the teachers in our Australian Teachers' year level FB groups have really appreciated your ideas :)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


  4. Discover a Surefire Method to Teach Your Child to Read

    There are many different methods and opinions on how to teach a child to read - while all are well-intentioned, some methods could actually lead to reading difficulties in children. Learning to read is a critical step towards future academic success and later on success in life. If you cannot read, you cannot succeed. There is an amazingly simple method - actually, a combination of two methods - that can teach anyone to read, even children as young as 2 and 3 years old.

    The combination of these two methods has been used in the Children Learning Reading program to successfully teach thousands of young children to read. So what are these methods?

    It is the combination of synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness. Most have probably heard of phonics, but phonemic awareness is a concept less well known and ?it's not something you hear about often. Certainly, phonics is absolutely necessary to develop fluent reading skills; however, there are different types of phonics including embedded, analogy, analytical, and synthetic phonics. While using some type of phonics is better than not including any phonics instructions at all, you will achieve FAR BETTER results by employing synthetic phonics, which is by far the most easy and effective method for teaching reading. Multiple studies support this.

    In a 7 year study conducted by the Scottish Education Department, 300 students were taught using either analytic phonics or synthetic phonics. The results found that the synthetic phonics group were reading 7 months ahead and spelling 8 to 9 months ahead of the other phonics groups. At the end of the 7 year study, the children were reading 3.5 years ahead of their chronological age.

    Very impressive!

    Through their amazing reading program, the creators (Jim & Elena - parents of 4 children and reading teachers) have taught all of their children to read phonetically by 3 years old and have helped thousands of parents to successfully teach their children to read as well! Some are small 2 or 3 year old toddlers, others are young 4 or 5 year old preschoolers, and still others at ages 6, 7, 8 or even older.

    >> Click here to watch amazing videos of young children reading, and see the amazing results so many parents are achieving with their children.

    The Children Learning Reading program works so well that many children will achieve reading ages far ahead of their chronological age.

    Take Jim & Elena's children as an example: their oldest child, Raine, was reading phonetically at 2 years 11 months old, and by the time she entered kindergarten at 5 years old, she was reading at a grade 5 level with a reading age of 11.9 years - almost 7 years ahead of her chronological age. Their second child, Ethan, learned to read phonetically by 2 years 9 months, and at age 3, he was reading at a grade 2 level with a reading age of 7.2 years - progressing at a similarly quick pace as his older sister. Find that hard to believe? You can watch the videos posted here.

    There are many different phonics programs out there, but rarely do you ever hear a mention of phonemic awareness (PA), and PA is absolutely an equally critical component to developing reading skills in children. What makes the Children Learning Reading program so unique and amazingly effective at teaching young children is that it seamlessly combines the teaching of synthetic phonics along with phonemic awareness to enable children to develop superb reading skills.

    >>> Click here to learn more about the Children Learning Reading program and teach your child to read today

  5. Tutoring Centre is Leading and Quality Educational Centre in Cranbourne. We Provide Best Tutoring Services better than other Best tutoring centres in Cranbourne and Melbourne also.
    Tutoring Cranbourne
    Tutoring Centre Cranbourne west
    Primary Tuition centre Cranbourne
    Scholarship preparation melbourne
    selective school practice test
    john monash science school entrance exam


Back to Top