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 I am wanting to do small groups for reading discussions, but my class is a very difficult class with behaviour. What kinds of tactics or strategies have you used to effectively do small groups? My class is 20 grade ones, with 10 of those having some pretty intense behaviour issues. I am trying to develop the skills needed for independence, but it does feel hopeless at time. Any ideas or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciaited.

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Hi Cyndy,
I can imagine having that many students with behavior would make reading groups a challenge for sure, especially since some probably are still non readers.  One strategy I have had some success with is teaching kids that there is more than one way to read a book.  I teach older kids but have done this because I have had nonreaders who had disruptive behavior during reading (but never 10!).  Tell students that they can read by look at the pictures, read the words or retell the book.  Take each way and model it and have kids practice it for really short periods of time and do it over and over.   Kids then don’t have an excuse for not knowing what to do (you’ve modeled it and practiced it multiple times now) and the non readers or kids who have books that are too hard/easy or who may finish a book have strategies to rely on when they are suppose to be reading independently.  I also make a t chart - one side with what the teacher will be doing during guided reading and the other side with what kids are expected to be doing as a reference.  I think posting photos of kids reading independently beside the words on the chart, especially of those behavior kids, might be one way of letting them know that you know, they can do it.  (I know that I found these lesson idea out there somewhere but cannot remember the source - sorry!)

thanks Tina,

I am finding that the main thing for my class is that I have to lay out very clear expectations and almost have a personal plan for everyone in the room. Then each person knows what to do.  At this point, I can't have them work in small groups unsupervised. I have done a little of pair work and they seem to enjoy that, but then again, I have to be very careful of the pairs I put together. Last week I had them play hang man on the little white boards with the spelling words. They enjoyed that and stayed on task....and they didn't even get too noisy. :)

I think I will use the T chart idea...that way they can also see and anticipate when it will be their small group turn to come to me. I am fortunate in that this class is also the most advanced academically that I have ever had and I really only have 4 or 5 non-readers and the rest are between fairly fluent and really fluent.


have you tried I read, you read, we read.  I have my computer read to the students or if you can record yourself reading.  then I group the student to do paired reading.  the we do choral reading.  Also you might try recording the students as they read.

Thanks Dorethia,

I have recorded the students as they read and hope to do it again within the next few weeks to see if there is an improvement. I had the children listen to themselves with their parents at the student-led conferences a few weeks ago and I think the parents understood my rationale for their reading assessment then! :)

I am going to try going on to Tumble Books again today.I have tried in the past, but our computers do not work well in this school.

I like your progression of reading and may try that with the students with a new easter book I've printed off for them.

Ah, there's the bell..gotta go.

Thanks again.

Hi Cynthia,

I know how hard it can be to teach reading and how challenging difficult behaviors can be. I have taught in both first grade and in an ED class, so I can sympathize. I was referred a while back to a great book, Win-win Discipline by Kagan, Kyle and Scott. It gives tons of ways to work with the kids. Also, in my own experiences, I have found that starting small and big rewards help. You may want the kids to work in pairs first, then groups, and when the group finishes the reading to your expectations, they can act out the story as a play or some other activity. Also, for behavior issues in general I created a student led Constitution and Bill of Rights or laws. The students made most of the rules, some I insisted upon, voted on them and determined the consequences for breaking the rules. It worked pretty well and once the students had signed the contract, they couldn't really say they didn't know. Hope it helps and good luck!




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