Monday, September 23, 2013

Small Literature Groups

While typing up notes for a novel unit on TpT, I realized I needed to revise my SG notes.  What worked for me my first and second year of teaching doesn't work for me now.

When reflecting on my teaching, I often come back to one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou: 

"When you know better, you do better"

Well, I'm going to do better.  I revised my units to add  in answers and increased the complexity of the questions by making them more open-ended.  I also included suggested homework questions for students.  These revised units are available on TpT.

I always have my students divide their notebooks into four sections:

I give them four questions to answer based on the chapter(s) for homework and we discuss those in depth.

For my small groups, I have them keep track of characters, analyze shifts in setting and make note of interesting vocabulary words in their small group notebooks.

We spend most of our time in our group meetings digging deep into the text.  I check their notebooks, set them up for the next discussion (usually allowing them to decide how much they want to read because I set the minimum) and then dive into the text.

Since I have six groups and only an hour each period, I can't meet each group every day. 

Here's our run-down:

First 8 minutes: fluency.

Students work with a partner to "buddy coach".  I set the timer for one minute and half the class reads in a whisper to their coach.  The coach keeps track of errors and at the timer, gives feedback on rate, expression, accuracy and phrasing.  After one minute of coaching, the students track their progress on this chart (from the CORE sourcebook).  Then they switch roles and repeat.

My beloved:
(yes, I'm a little type-A with my tabs)

I get my leveled fluency passages from reading A-Z but I know there are lots of websites and teacher's guides available.  I print them double sided so the students keep the passages for two weeks because that's better for our planet.

They chart on their fluency tracker:

After that, we spend a few minutes going over the week's phonics: Greek & Latin roots.
We look at the roots, add them to our anchor chart and then decompose multisyllabic words to decode the word's meaning.

From there,  I divide the remaining time in two and start pulling my groups.  I leave 2 minutes at the end for clean up and transition time.

To make sure all my groups get equal time at stations, I make this chart for my lesson plans:

That way I can make sure all my groups get the same centers.

This week, our stations are:
1. Fluency binder (like buddy coaching except they select the passage and can work in groups).  I've printed poems, songs, speeches and passages for students to read and buddy coach with.  I used FCRR printables to have students guide their discussions.

2. fluency quiz-quiz trade cards: they rate each other on their expression and accuracy, using these guides which are glued in their notebooks:

3. character jenga (I upcycled a jenga game and put open ended discussion questions for students to quiz each other).  This one gets a little loud but I love the discussions students have with one another about the book so it's worth it.

4. Kidblog.  This great, free resource allows students to respond to each other and to my blog questions on a safe, secure site:

If you view our page, that's all you see.  Students need a log in (their id numbers) and I get full approval of their posts.

5. "build-a-word": They take syllables and create multisyllabic words, recording their answers in their notebooks.  

6. "word-o-matic" (an FCRR center) where they create words.  I printed vowels on one color and consonants on another to make for easy clean up :)

Most of my centers are in manilla envelopes with instructions on sticky labels.  It helps keep students accountable for their behavior.

7.  Writing thank you letters for donor's choose :)  We got our new materials and love them! Thank you again donors!

8. Idiom cards: one of our new donorschoose centers to help with figurative langugage, which we've been working on during whole group reading!

I also posted our group norms:

I got this sweet card from a student today:

Happy reading!
-Ms. Vice

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