It’s officially January! Is everyone feeling settled into the second semester yet? I know it’s tough. Especially in a year like this one where the way that you’re teaching now may not be the way that you started the year. And it may not be the way that you finish the year. All of this bouncing back-and-forth between virtual and live teaching is so tough. Teachers are heroes!
But, no matter your teaching situation, the kids need the same things right? They need to grow. And they deserve quality instruction that meets their needs. This is a tough ask when we already have so many other things on our plates. So, today I wanted to talk about one simple thing you can do during the first few weeks after break that will help you best meet your students’ needs: re-assess your guided reading data!
Guided Reading Data
When you first began your school year, you likely collected some data about the reading ability of your students. You can’t place them in groups without knowing how they read and what they need to work on. You also likely have done some other quick checks or running records throughout the year to ensure that your students are still in the right group. When we begin the second semester, I like to do a deep dive into my students’ reading ability the same way that I do at the beginning of the year. It helps me plan my small group lessons most effectively!
So, this is the time of year that I would recommend re-assessing how your students are reading to make sure that they are all in the right group. How do you do that? It’s not as difficult as it sounds!
Steps for Collecting Data, Simply
1.) Focus on one group at a time. This way you’re only working with a few kids a day and you won’t feel overwhelmed. Start with your lowest group and have one-on-one reading conferences with each of them.
2.) Give the students a text on their group’s level. Have them read aloud to you while you complete a running record and take observational notes about their reading behavior.
3.) If they fly through the on-level text without many errors at all, give them something slightly more difficult. Use your best judgment here. If they make no errors, you may be able to jump a few levels. If they make a few, then maybe one level up is appropriate. Repeat the reading and running record.
4.) Compare the student’s notes from the beginning of the school year to right now. Are the things that you wrote in August the same things that you are writing now? Has the student’s reading behavior improved dramatically and they no longer fit in with your current group at all?
The current data you collect will give you plenty of information about how the student is reading, but looking back at where they started shows you how much they’ve grown. This gives you another way to measure how a student is progressing in comparison to the other students in their group.
What to do with the data
When you’ve made it through your entire class and you have a collection of notes and thoughts about each student, you can make your groups! Take the students whose notes sound similar to each other and place them in the same group. Your high flyers likely won’t have changed much (although they’ve hopefully grown), but your struggling readers may be split into all different groups now. Using Guided Reading data really can make all the difference for you and your students!
Where to find guided reading materials
If you are looking for texts and running record templates to go with them, as well as thorough lesson plans for readers of all levels, I have guided reading texts and lessons for sale in my TPT store. I have every level that you could need for any grade, but I also have seasonal sets. If you want something for winter, you can browse my winter guided reading packs HERE. If you want to see my other money-saving bundles, check out the listings HERE.
If you’re looking for a fully digital option, check out my recent blog post on the digital format here! You can also go right to TPT for the digital format.