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 :)

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