Chapter 3 of Making the Most of Small Groups is all about grouping. Creating Small Groups for Guided Reading is one of the most important pieces to successful reading groups. By the way, thanks for joining me and my friend Mr.Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard for our Summer Book Study!

How do I create small groups?

Creating small groups is all about formal and informal assessments. But as Debbie Diller says, data is just one piece of information. Our school assesses kindergartners with the AIMsWeb benchmark for letter name, letter sound, and number fluency, as well as using ESGI for standards testing. But I also put a lot of stock in my observations and evaluating a student ‘overall’. Never dismiss your teacher intuition!!

Since I teach Kindergarten, my small groups look very different than other primary grades. 95% of my incoming students fall into the emergent reader category and we focus more on pre-reading skills.

Grouping Emergent Readers may consist of groups working on these skills:

The first 6-8 weeks of kindergarten in my classroom are spent on rules, developing procedures, and learning the routines of our academic day. I am also doing both formal and informal assessments and observations during this time too. By the 8th or 9th week of school, my students know the expectations and rules and are ready to attend to literacy stations independently. I can now pull small groups during independent literacy station time. Another important tip when teaching small groups, is to remember that these groups are meant to be FLEXIBLE!!! A teacher should never create small groups and then keep them the same all year long. Students grow at different rates and small groups should be a reflection of the various academic levels.

Using something to track your small groups and individual student data is very important to recording the success of your students. I use a very simple small group data tracking form that I laminate and use a wet-erase marker with. This makes it easy to make adjustments. But I love the idea of using sticky notes on laminated folders, to make a flexible reading group folder.

Here are 5 free small group data tracking ideas that you may be able to use.

(Click on picture links to be taken to original source.)

How often should I meet with my small groups?

The simple answer is whatever your administration says! 🙂 But here is a sample of what I do.

I have 4-5 small groups, depending on the skill levels of my students and where we are in the school year. I only meet my small groups Monday through Thursday. I reserve Fridays for assessments and/or intensive intervention. And just like Debbie Diller suggests in her book, I use this algorithm.

Monday = Low, Low Medium, High

Tuesday = Low,  Medium, High Medium

Wednesday = Low, Low Medium, Medium

Thursday = Low, Low Medium, Medium

Using this algorithm, I can meet with my ones that need the most help more frequently.

What should I work on in small groups?

At this point, you have assessed all of your students formally and informally and have placed them into their small group. You should have also determined through your assessments, what skills they are lacking and that is now the skills you will be working on in that specific small group. But stay up to date with this book study, as we learn more about how and what to teach with our differentiated small groups.


Did you miss my review of chapter 1? Click here to read about 5 Tips for Making the Most of Small Groups.

Check out chapter 2’s review here: 25+ Ideas for Organizing Guided Reading Supplies and Materials in the Classroom.

Chapter 4: Read HERE about how Comprehension is the Key to Reading.

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