Tag Archives: Teaching Reading in Small Groups

Demystifying Small Groups in Reading: Supporting Students in Action K-8

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Written by  Anna Gratz Cockerille

“I think that many teachers have been subjected to intensive efforts to remake their small-group instruction so that it is 'just so.' There have been so many books written on how to lead small groups in precisely the right ways that too many teachers approach a little hub of readers, gripped by anxiety over doing this The Right Way. Meanwhile, the whole point is to be personal, be responsive, and to channel kids to do some work while you observe and coach.” 

– Lucy Calkins, in A Guide to the Reading Workshop

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Online PLC: Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Grades K–6

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This week's post is a portion of Jennifer Serravallo's On-Demand PD course titled "Teaching Reading In Small Groups: Matching Methods to Purposes." You can learn more about our on-demand offerings here.

Creating positive experiences for students during both small groups and independent reading begins with setting a tone that encourages student confidence. Starting your one-on-one conferring session with a compliment notices and names a child’s current approximation of a strategy or behavior that you’d like them to continue doing (Johnston 2004).

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Heinemann Summer Sessions Week 9: Jen Serravallo’s Teaching Reading in Small Groups

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Welcome to the final week of the Heinemann Summer Sessions! Each week throughout the summer, we featured an article, video clip, or new professional book chapter from the Heinemann Digital Library on the topic of student engagement. Today, a video from Jennifer Serravallo's online course for Teaching Reading in Small Groups.

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Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Fluency

We’ve been talking about Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers online these past few months. Each lens is important on its own and can provide you with a piece of the puzzle, but by using these lenses—engagement, fluency, print work, comprehension and conversation—together, you will get the clearest sense of a student.

FLUENCY

Let’s take a look at fluency. Fluent reading both communicates that the text is making sense, and helps readers make sense of the text. To read fluently, students need to understand what they are reading. Some argue there is a chicken-and-egg relationship between fluency and comprehension. As Jen writes in her upcoming book The Reading Strategies Book, “There are exceptions to this rule of fluency and comprehension being inextricably linked. Have you ever met that child who reads a text sounding like he is reading lines for a Broadway audition, only to stop, be asked a simple question about what he just read, and have him tell you he doesn’t remember a thing? It’s important that in our attempts to teach children to read fluently, we don’t send the message that reading is just about performing.”

There are endless opportunities to assess and teach fluency. You can take notes during a whole-class or small-group shared reading, listening for how students use (or don’t use) punctuation. When conferring, you can listen to see how fluent or expressive a student’s reading sounds. Listen as students talk during partnerships or book clubs; do they choose text to support their thinking? Use warm-up and transfer groups to give children a chance to practice in a book that is easy for them, and immediately transfer the felt sense of fluent reading to their independent books. You can also take a fluency record or a running record in the context of any oral reading.

​There are a few parts to this goal of reading fluency:

  • Phrasing or parsing – putting words together into meaningful groups within a sentence.
  • Expression or intonation or prosody – reading to match the feeling of the piece, paying attention to ending punctuation and dialogue marks.
  • Emphasis – emphasizing words in the sentence to match the author’s meaning. Paying attention to text treatments (bold, italics, all caps).
  • Automaticity – reading known words automatically
  • Pace – reading at a pace that mirrors how we talk, not racing through words or reading at a labored rate.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the tools you can use to help you assess fluency. Running records were made mainstream by Marie Clay as a way to record what students do as you sit and listen to them read. We’ll discuss running records more next week when we focus on Print Work. A running record of a child’s oral reading can give helpful information about fluency. Listen as students read aloud, recording their pauses and instances of expressive reading. You can then go back and evaluate the number of words in a phrase group, where the pauses were and whether they were syntactically appropriate, and how often the reader paid attention to punctuation. High-frequency words are those words that appear most frequently in text. You can start with the most simple and most frequent words  (found by doing an internet search for “Dolch” or “high-frequency words”).

We wouldn’t expect readers at the lowest levels (A, B, C) to read with fluency, as their focus should be on one-to-one matching (reading one word aloud for each word in print) and pointing under the words – reading smoothly and this goal cannot live side-by-side. However, by level D we should expect some phrasing, and a by E intonation as well. Keep fluency in mind when matching students to Just Right Books. For readers J and above, look for level 3 or 4 on this NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Scale.

Have you ever thought of teaching shared reading as a small group? How are you a model of fluent reading in your classroom? As you consider the two lenses we’ve discusses so far (engagement and fluency), what resonates? We have created blank versions of some of Jen’s suggested engagement and fluency tools for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.

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Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Teaching Reading in Small GroupsConferring with ReadersThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K–2, and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

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PDF
Blank Reading Log D-I WORD Blank Reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Log J-M WORD Blank Reading Log J-M PDF
Blank Reading Log L+ WORD Blank Reading Log L+ PDF
Blank Rereading Log D-I WORD Blank Re-reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 PDF

Blank Engagement Inventory WORD

Blank High-Frequency Word List WORD

Blank Engagement Inventory PDF

Blank High-Frequency Word List PD

 

Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Engagement

Last November we started a conversation around Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers. We learned that by using these five lenses—engagement, fluency, print work, comprehension and conversation—you will get the clearest sense of the student. Seeing a student through only one or two lenses is limiting to you and to the student. Jen recommends that you try to collect at least one student artifact from each lens.

ENGAGEMENT

Let’s focus on engagement. When we consider a student’s level of engagement, we are in essence assessing whether the child reads for pleasure or merely for school. Engagement refers to a reader’s motivation and desire to read, as well as his or her ability to read for sustained amounts of time. It’s no accident that Jen lists this as the first lens.

Jen offers a few tools to use to assess engagement. In her upcoming book The Reading Strategies Book, Jen writes “My favorite assessment for figuring out who needs support with engagement is the engagement inventory.”

An engagement inventory is essentially a kidwatching tool. Spend time literally watching your students. Record what you see for an entire independent reading period. Do you see when a student reacts to a text? Do you see if a child finishes reading one book before starting a new one? Do you see when a student becomes disengaged from a text? Engagement inventories can help you understand what kids do as they are reading–avoidance behaviors, distractibility, or signs of engaged reading.

“Without engagement you’ve got nothing.”
–Jennifer Serravallo

Another powerful tool is the book log, or reading log. Book logs can help you identify many things about your readers. For students reading at lower levels, a simple tally log can be used. Teachers can also put a sticky note on the back of a book and have students mark a tally every time they finish reading it. Use book logs to look for patterns about students’ engagement. Where are they when they read the most? What type of books do they enjoy most? One way to use book logs to keep students engaged is to suggest other works by an author that a student likes. Keep several book logs to look for trends over time.

Reading interest surveys can be completed orally during a conference or by having the student write their answers down. You can find premade lists of questions online, or you can make your own. A reading interest survey asks questions about a student’s interests, habits, and attitudes around reading, and can help you learn what students like to read, as well as their attitudes about reading. These surveys can help match students to engaging books and authors they may not be aware of. They can also help you match reading partners by showing you which students have similar reading tastes. Take reading interest surveys throughout the school year to see how your students grow and change.

What do you look for when you check to see if your students are engaged readers? As you consider engagement and these tools (engagement inventories, book logs/reading logs, and reading interest surveys), what resonates? We have created blank versions of these engagement tools for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

Join us Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses to share your thoughts and stories.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Teaching Reading in Small GroupsConferring with ReadersThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K–2, and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

  PDF
  Blank Reading Log D-I PDF
  Blank Reading Log J-M PDF
  Blank Reading Log L+ PDF
  Blank Re-reading Log D-I PDF
  Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 PDF
  Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 PDF
  Blank Engagement Inventory PDF