Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reading Stations (Guided Reading part 2.5)

This post serves as a follow-up to my last post in my Guided Reading series. After I wrote it, I realized I had so much more to say about it, so here it is. (It would be helpful to read this post first if you haven't already and then come back to read this current one.) 

In my last post, I wrote about how I use Reading Rotations to help teach my literacy block. Sometimes I say Reading Stations instead, but they are the same thing. I usually say rotations with my students but honestly, it doesn't matter as long as you are consistent in what you call them. 

Once upon a time, I tried Daily 5 infused with CAFE but the way that my literacy time is structured, I couldn't make it work for me. I struggled for a year or so to find something that did work. Some of my colleagues at the time use an 8 station rotation and I could not wrap my head around what kind of planning that would require so I didn't even want to attempt it. Last year, I modified it and it did work very well for me. I modified it a bit more this year and so far, it is working well for us. 

I wanted to go a bit more in-depth with each of my stations because I don't feel like I did justice to the process as I tried to describe it in my last post, hence why this one really continues that post.

I mentioned that I have several rotations my students work through: teacher, word work, vocabulary, SSR and partner reading. I gave a short description of them previously but truthfully I wasn't really satisfied that it tells enough of the literacy story in my classroom. So I shall try to dig a little deeper this time :)

(Note: I have mentioned previously that I work with an 8 day rotation for reading so keep that in mind as you read. Day 1 and Day 8 are all whole group and testing, respectively, so the information shared below occurs on Days 2-7.)

Teacher Group: We use Journeys at my new building. I have always had a basal reading series to use that includes leveled readers. While I am not necessarily a fan of a basal series, I think they can serve as a great spring board for instruction. Since I have always used one, I don't know what it is like to teach without one. Even when I haven't loved the stories in my grade has used, I have always used the series to guide me and supplemented as necessary. That being said, so far in 3rd grade with Journeys, I have really enjoyed how everything is laid out and the two week window in which to actually teach the whole story. I feel like we get more in-depth than I could when I really only had four days to teach the weekly scope and sequence to my classes. Let me give you an overview of how I utilize my teacher group time.
  • Since Day 1 is all whole group, we take this time to introduce the skill and strategy for the next two weeks as well as focus on vocabulary and the phonics skill that we will use throughout the next two weeks. We spend the entire 60 minute reading block on Day 1 working directly with the story's key vocabulary and the teacher reads the anchor text aloud to allow students to just hear it all the way through, read fluently by an adult so that the next time they interact with the the text, they will already have some familiarity with the story and we aren't wasting any trying to navigate an unfamiliar text.
  • Day 2 and 3 are used to teach the same content to all four of my small groups (2 groups per day for about 25 minutes each). I am absolutely adamant that even leveled groups where students are grouped with other children reading at a similar level must be exposed to grade level text. The state test requires they interact with grade level text so I insist that they also interact with it while at the teacher table, even if the text is very complex and difficult. The way I see it, that is why a teacher is there--to really help them comprehend and break down the text so they can understand it. These two days we re-read the anchor text for the week and focus on the comprehension skill (for example, the first story focused on drawing conclusions and the second story focused on character development). Because they have already heard the text read aloud to them, we are able to focus more on digging into the text during these small groups. The lower groups get much more support from me while the higher groups tend to lead the discussion more and I serve more as a facilitator (with the goal of course to get my lower groups to get to that point too). 
  • Day 4 and 5 are very similar to day 2 and 3 except we are now working with our paired text. Journeys has a separate consumable volume that is called a close reader. This volume has all of the paired texts in it along with notes in the margins to help kids learn how to be close readers (for example it asks them to find and circle the title or the heading so they learn the text features too). Similarly to the previous lesson during small groups, I support  my lower two groups much more than I do my higher groups. I still push for rigor no matter what group I am working with, but I also realize my lower level students (may of whom are performing at a K or 1st grade level) can't navigate this text on their own so we read it together while the other groups may read it to themselves and then we discuss it. 
  • Day 6 and 7 are reserved for the leveled readers that come with the program. There are 5 levels for the leveled readers: vocabulary readers, ELL readers, below, on and above level readers. This past cycle we used the leveled readers for the first time. I chose to use the ELL reader with my lower two groups, the below level with my bubble kids and the on level with my highest group. It worked very well. As the year goes on, we will begin to shift them up to the higher book (so the higher group would eventually get into the above level readers). This allows me to really provide instruction at their level without sacrificing grade level instruction. 
As you can see, two of the three days they are in the teacher group, they are working with grade level text. I feel it is my job as the teacher to provide scaffolding to allow the kids to navigate these more complex texts because, again, they will be expected to on the state test. If we only let them read texts on their own level, they will never catch up and they will never be able to navigate those complex texts that are often seen on the standardized tests. 

Word Work: In the word work station, students are working with the grammar strategy that supports the current story in our basal series. This past cycle, we focused on the four types of sentences. I made a flipped video of myself teaching the lesson and uploaded them to Google Classroom. This allowed me to teach my class without being in front of them. It was fabulous and the kids really enjoyed having me up close and personal without being right there. We just got our Moby Max licenses as well so they will also have an opportunity to work with their spelling words during this time (they will complete the grammar task first and then move into the spelling work).  This is a great way to balance the type of things they are doing in this station but also automatically provides them with a "what do I do now?" activity (the spelling list) if they finish the grammar activity early.

Vocabulary: I mentioned before we are using a vocabulary foldable to help the students work with their vocabulary words. This group is collectively low so we are starting simple with this list. As the year goes on, we will amp it up and will use a modified Frayer model where they will need to provide examples as well as non-examples of the word and use it in a sentence of their own making to make sure they are really understanding the word and can use it in context. This last cycle (that ended on September 29) was the first time they did the vocabulary foldable and as you can imagine, since it was the first time, they were pretty awful and some of my lowest kiddos didn't get them done even though they had three 25 minute sessions to work on them. I absolutely expected this because it was a new experience for them. My hope is, with some changes to how we are going to be working with groups (there will be a post about that tomorrow!), it will allow the kiddos to get the vocabulary foldable done in one session so that they have two sessions in partner reading which is the next station. 

Partner Reading: This station is still a work in progress at this point. This is the station students will utilize once they have finished their vocabulary foldables so until the kiddos get used to how those work, this station will definitely be under utilized. As such, however, we will be using our Scholastic News in this station to work with a partner to read current events and support our understanding and learning of text features. Aside from that the students will use this station to work with the text sets that I got from Donor's Choose. There are four types of media in each set (such as a pamphlet, newspaper article, magazine article and a blog post) that are on the same topic. What I like about these text sets is they all include a packet that the students can use to help them read through and analyze the media types. Utilizing the text sets in this way may mean they take a month or so to complete a text set but that is just fine with me. I want to start slow because there are so many low readers in my classroom. And the text sets are super interesting (*I* would like to just sit and read them all!). 

SSR: Self-selected reading, read to self, whatever you would like to call it, the kiddos spend some time every other day in this station. I would love to have time for them to read to themselves for fun every single day but there is no way to work it into my schedule (which is why I am also using partner reading!). Of course, I know how absolutely vital time to read for fun is, but at the same time, we read all the time and my kiddos are allowed to go into the Epic app on their iPads when they finish a task and have no other work to finish so they are getting more time in books than just during this block which is a bonus. This next cycle (starting tomorrow), students will also be asked to complete a short reflection on the books they have been reading to help keep them accountable to actually READ their books rather than just flipping through the pictures. 

I hope this follow-up post provides a better overview of what small group time looks like in my classroom and what the other kiddos are doing while I am teaching those small groups. My student teacher is taking over this block now and I have taught her how to teach each of the components in the teacher group time so I will be free to sit with groups to complete vocabulary and/or to listen to kids read during SSR which is going to be great too since it is something a teacher normally does not have time to do since they are the one teaching the small groups.


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