This post originally appeared on the blog Cassie Dahl: Teaching and Technology.
Have you ever tried student-led reading groups in your classroom? Have you ever felt like your students were not putting forth their best effort? Using student-led reading groups can be motivating for your students but extremely hard for you to monitor all of the groups at the same time. By holding your students accountable with these quick group check sheets, you can finally make student-led groups work in your classroom. Keep reading to find out the details and grab your freebie!
Before I started doing student-led groups in my classroom, I did the typical “guided reading” groups. I would meet with groups of students 2-3 times each week. I would lead their official reading time. The tides have changed in my classroom and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Our reading groups now meet Monday-Thursday (which means my students are meeting all 4 days instead of just 2 or 3).
This is all fine and dandy, except… what about student effort and you monitoring them? That’s when I decided to introduce my students to group check sheets. My students love them. As a class, we developed a group rubric to follow. My students rate themselves and then the members of their group on participation, effort, kindness, etc. We had a huge discussion on what it means to be a good listener and how to offer support if someone is confused or having a hard time figuring out a word.
For 20 minutes (Monday-Thursday), my students meet with their group. They read as a group and then work on the comprehension questions that match their selected chapters. We alternate between chapter books and leveled readers that accompany our reading series. The leveled readers are fabulous, but I notice that some of my students get bored with them. Switching it up with chapter book gives a nice variety for them.
Near the end of their group time, I clap my hands three times. This is the signal to the groups to find a good stopping place, mark their books, and then fill out their group check sheets. They have two minutes to get them done and turned in to a little bin that sits on a shelf near our library. This is a great transition between reading groups and going back to our tables.
So far, my students are being brutally honest. If someone is messing around, the entire group will mark them down. With my students rating themselves — it allows them to take ownership and responsibility with their behavior during reading groups. I had a student tell me, “I gave myself a 2 because there was a lot I could have done better.” Wow. That is exactly the point I was going for! Let’s hope he remembers it.
Are you wondering why there are four different colors? That is part of my classroom organization strategy. I have four reading groups. The colors match each group. My groups change frequently based on what level text I have chosen for the group. I keep myself and my students organized by color coding the groups. When I copy comprehension questions for a text, I copy them onto the color for that group. When I look over the sheets for the day, I can easily see which sheets belong to which groups. I can look for an similarities. If I notice consistent low ratings, I just position myself closer to their group and more frequently than the others for the next few reading group times.
While my students are meeting, I move around between all four of the groups. It also gives me a chance to pull a student if I am working on an intervention with them. My students love student-led reading groups and this accountability piece made it work for me.
Want to try the student accountability sheets in your classroom? Click here or the image below to download for free from my TpT store.
Cassie has been a 4th grade teacher for three years and is the author of the blog Cassie Dahl: Teaching & Technology. She lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and three dogs (two pugs and a trouble-making lab). As a Teacher-Author, her goal is to help students in the middle grades succeed and excel by publishing products that push students outside their box. Follow her on Instagram, pin with her on Pinterest, like her Facebook page, read her new blog posts, or check out her TpT store!