This post originally appeared on the blog Mrs. Russell’s Room.

Small group time is one of my favorite times of the day! I love meeting with the kids and listening to them talk about math or reading!  It used to be a real grind figuring out what I would do during that time, but once I got a system down, it really became the highlight of my day!
 
I have a schedule for each week that can be easily ‘tweaked’ each week. I add them to my lesson plans and it’s just easy to go down and check things off as I am able to complete them. When I learn something new about the kids… something that I need to practice more, I just write it in the plans. The purpose of this post is to define what I functionally DO with my kids when I have them in small group for reading. Getting a plan that WORKED took me a long time, so I my hope is that if I share my plan with you, it will save you some time in crafting something that works for you.
 
I keep all of my plans and data in one binder. This helps me to have the most important things in one place that easy to access whenever I need it. I posted about my long range plans and offered them for free on my blog at the beginning of the school year. You can find them HERE. My actual small group time with each group is about 12-15 minutes long. I break each group’s time into about four parts.

 

1. Phonemic Awareness

2. Spelling Skill of the Week

3. Sight Word Drill

4. Reading/Fluency

 I always start with some phonemic awareness drills. I can differentiate the instruction based on the group I’m working with. All of my drills are oral, so planning is a cinch! I even wrote directions on them, so if my substitute needs to run my centers, it’s a snap! 🙂 Phonemic awareness is the foundation of decoding.  Daily practice, even for only a few minutes daily, can really help students start to listen critically for the sounds that letter patterns make. You can use these particular sheets to progress monitor for RTI as a ‘teacher created assessment’, or you can just use them to practice in small groups with students. I find them to be incredibly helpful. These assessments are part of my phonics assessment pack. I have them on TpT. You can snag them HERE.

 
 

 
 


The next thing that I do in small group is work with the spelling pattern of the week. That can be with materials that I’ve created or purchased.. .or even with worksheets or activities from my basal series. I try to work on nonsense word fluency as well. Manipulating letter tiles and using alphabet flip letters has really helped in my small group time.  I also like to have them practice writing the words.  We have a supplemental program called Diphonics that has an explicit marking system. I really like it… especially for my struggling readers. I find that the marking system cues their eyes to what they need to look for. Knowing the rules more formally helps them apply them in their independent reading much more consistently.

 
The sight word cards are included in any of my word wall packs:
Apple Themed, Airplane Themed, Pirate Themed, and Sports Themed

During sight word review, we just play different drills with the cards. The kids like different styles of games, and keeping the pace fast helps them to stay focused and alert during our time together. 

 

 The last component of my small group time is reading fluency. Each group has a different passage based on the general level that they’re in. We read the entire passage daily and go through the questions. Sometimes it takes us close to two weeks to get through one passage. At this point, two of my groups are doing timings. I usually don’t time unless I am confident that they can read with comprehension. Usually, that means I wait until they are at about a 1.5. Once kids can read, adding the timing part usually gets them more excited than the actual comprehension, so… make sure that you front load your expectation that comprehension still needs to be the reason why they read! 🙂 
My small group planning sheet is basically the same each week. I really only change the skill and the stories. Everything else basically stays the same. Super easy! 🙂  
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Tamara RussellTamara Russell is a National Board Certified Middle Childhood Generalist from Orlando, Florida.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading on her kindle and traveling with her husband Chris. She’s most passionate about creating standards based curriculum resources for students that help them build a sense of wonder and deeper understanding of the world around them.  She loves to connect on social media. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or her blog.