Small group reading is popular amongst most schools and teachers due to the many beneficial qualities. But how does a teacher actually implement small group reading periods in a way that is enjoyable and improves the reading quality of learners?
Let’s go back again and refresh the definition of what group reading is. It consists of a small group of learners; the class is divided into however many learners and groups there are. For example, 8 learners into 8 groups. This small group of learners needs to be at the same or similar reading level of ability.
The teacher is the main guide in small group reading, they are responsible for instructing learners on what pages to read, the order of reading and so on, as well as observe how learners read and assist them when they need help reading a difficult word and when new vocabulary is introduced.
As previously mentioned, small group reading has many benefits as the teacher is able to give more quality and individual time with every learner. This helps to promote reading confidence as learners practise reading out loud in front of other learners without the pressure of reading in front of the entire class. Reading out loud also improves fluency. In this small group setting, teachers are also more able to pick up on any reading difficulties that individual learners may have and assist them accordingly.
To implement small reading groups, it is important to first assess every learner to determine their reading ability level. There are numerous methods which can be used to assess a learner’s reading ability and every school or teacher may have their own prefered strategies. The most common aspects teachers need to look at when assessing reading ability is to assess
These are just a few basic examples of what to look out for when trying to assess the learner’s reading ability. Once you have established these levels of ability, you can place learners into small groups with peers who are at the same level.
It is essential to dedicate specific time for small group reading in your weekly lesson plans. Depending on how many learner’s and groups you have, try and decide how much time you can dedicate to each group without rushing through the reading, as well as how many groups you are able to take per day. It is highly recommended to have small group reading with every group at least once a week; if possible, twice a week.
The choice of books used in small group reading is also very important; you may find that not all learners can have the same readers, therefor choose books that are appropriate to the levels of ability of the individual groups, that are age-appropriate for learners, books that are interesting- learners will not want to participate in reading if they find the materials boring! Readers should constantly introduce new words to expand learner’s vocabulary and reading- new vocabulary also improves writing skills.
The most important part of small group reading is, of course, the actual reading session with the teacher. During this time, the teacher should talk to learners about the book; ask them to look and read the cover and try to predict what the book will be about; briefly discuss new words – this can be in the form of flashcards; each learner in the small group must be given the opportunity to read at least one page out loud while the rest of the learners quietly follow along. You can ask questions during a learner’s reading, asking them what they think might happen next, why a character might’ve done or said something; if they can find rhyming words, action words, describing words and so on. After all the learners have read, ask more questions to test their comprehension. Did the story go as they predicted? What surprised them? What did they enjoy about it? Did they learn anything? Was there a moral to the story? These questions stimulate a child’s thinking and comprehension skills. Conclude the small group by assigning them pages from the same reader to read again at home.