This is my seventh year teaching maternelle, and it STILL blows my mind I get to help teach children to read.
I remember my very first year teaching, when I had my first ever guided reading group sitting across from me at the table.
I had absolutely NO IDEA what to do with them!!!
I had three pairs of eyes staring expectantly at me and no idea how to even START to teach them how to read the words on the pages of their new level one books.
You need to know so many things to be able to read… what do you teach first?
How can you make your students feel successful from the very first lesson?
I think other grades have an advantage when it comes to teaching reading (aside from the fact that their students’ brains are older and more ready haha) – their students have all already been taught at least *something*, and have a jumping off point.
But what do you do when your students are starting from nothing??
How do you get guided reading off the ground? Where do you even BEGIN?!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I actually don’t start my guided reading lessons with small groups.
I start them whole-group!
What?? How can that be? you may be wondering.
Well, read on to find out exactly what I mean!
How I Get Guided Reading off the Ground
So, as I mentioned above, I introduce guided reading to my class WHOLE GROUP first.
I do whole-group guided reading lessons for two weeks before we break into smaller groups.
How is that guided reading?? – it’s not, really… EXCEPT I structure the lessons in the same way as I would structure guided reading.
We do a warm-up, we learn a new sight word, skill, or strategy, we read a new book, and then we have practice time.
My students LOVE IT and it helps me form my groups!
I use the info I get from this + how many letters they have learned + general observation to form my groups after we are done with the two-week whole-group guided reading lessons.
My groups are still flexible, of course, but it helps a LOT. I am able to jump right into lessons that build on the skills each group already has.
Whole-group guided reading teaches me…
- Who knows how to hold a book and turn the pages
- Who knows in which direction we read
- Who understands 1:1 correspondence
- Who can learn and remember sight words with ease, which sight words they have mastered over the two weeks, and who struggles with sight words
- Each students’ vocabulary knowledge
- Who looks at the picture to help them read an unknown word
- Who can look at the first letter to help them figure out which sight word they are reading
That is a LOT of information to help me form my groups, and to help me know where to begin my small-group lessons for each group!
Also, over a two-week span, my students each get SIX books to take home to kick off home reading.
Parents are SO EXCITED to see their children become readers, and my students are always beyond proud of themselves!
Each lesson looks like this:
At the beginning of each lesson, we do an activity to practice phonological awareness.
This activity is always done à l’oral.
We work on rhymes, beginning sounds, and more!
For example, I might ask my students to show me a thumbs up/down if the words I say rhyme/don’t rhyme, start with the same letter, etc.
This warm-up is QUICK – 1-2 minutes max.
I teach or review the new sight word(s) they will need to know for their new book.
We also talk a lot about 1:1 correspondence and we practice touching each word as we read.
This part is so important!!!
Later, when our students are fluent readers, we don’t want them to touch each word.
But, as they are first beginning to understand a word you read = a word on the page, we HAVE to make sure our students are looking at each word… not the sky, not the window, not the floor, and not the teacher!
Depending on the day, students either get a new book to colour, or we complete an activity on paper that reinforces the concept I taught.
6/10 days are new books, 4/10 days are another activity!
All six of the books we learn are books I created myself for whole-group guided reading.
I print them in black and white and each student gets a copy of each book to put in their reading bag to practice at home.
Depending on my class, practice time might look a little different each year.
Some classes are more independent than others, as I’m sure you know!
Generally, we practice in one of three ways:
- Students come to me to read their book as they finish colouring, and wait in line for their turn (this is my favourite way, but you need a pretty independent group for this to work)
- I give a set amount of time to colour their book and when the timer goes off, each student practices with a partner
- I give a set amount of time to colour their book and when the timer goes off, each student practices on their own and I walk around to listen to each student read a page or two
**This is a perfect opportunity to teach your students read-to-self and/or read-with-a-partner for literacy centres later on!
- Recruit help for prepping the books! I print them at school and send home instructions to my parent volunteers to cut them down the middle and staple them together.
Once you take the time to teach a parent once, they will already know for the next time!
- Start centres a week or two before starting this and continue while you are doing lecture guidée en grand groupe. Once you are done these two weeks, your students will have been practicing centres for a whole month.
At this point, in my experience, *most* classes will be able to start guided reading for real! They will be independent centre pros and you should be able to start pulling your small groups
- If you do reading buddies, your students will LOVE reading to their buddy and will be so proud of themselves! Celebrate & encourage their “reading” as much as you can!!
Starting my guided reading lessons whole-group has made such a difference in my guided reading instruction.
These two weeks give me SO MUCH information to help me get off on the right foot with my read guided reading groups, from our very first lesson.
I no longer waste time wondering where to begin, or staring across the table at three pairs of expectant eyes, or hoping they will magically figure out how to read on their own.
My students come to my guided reading table believing they are already readers from the first time, because of all the work they have already put in whole-group.
And parents believe their children are readers, too, and love seeing how proud and excited their budding readers are!
If you want to give whole-group guided reading a try, I have compiled everything you need into one big resource.
On TPT, you can find my “Lecture guidée en grand groupe” pack
, which includes all of my plans for the two weeks, all six books I send home with my students, and a variety of activities for introducing 1:1 correspondence and sight words.
To get started, all you will need is a big book and a photocopier… and your students don’t need any prior knowledge at all!
PS – Are you a member of my FREE Resource Library for French primary teachers? If not, what are you waiting for?? Sign up below for access to every freebie I’ve ever made… and will ever make!