Small Group Instruction
Small group instruction consists of guided reading, strategy lessons and small group component lessons.
Guided reading’s purpose is to introduce students to characteristics of texts that are at their instructional reading level. A guided reading group is made up of students who are at the same reading level and need scaffolding to reach the next reading level. A text is chosen at a level or two above students’ independent level. Teachers provide a brief book introduction, considering vocabulary and text structures. The book introduction helps students to read the book without major difficulty but still leaves some challenges. Teachers may provide a focus for the reading during the book introduction. Teachers listen-in and coach as readers work through tricky words/parts and make meaning of the text. After students finish reading their guided reading text, teachers decide on a teaching point based on observed needs as students read.
Strategy lessons focus on a common need among a group of students that may be at a range of reading/writing levels. Groups for strategy lessons are formed by teachers revisiting their conferring notes and noticing trends of needs (supporting or extending) with students. Strategy lessons usually are only one session. Teachers first model a strategy within a familiar text/piece of writing. Next, students try-on the strategy within the familiar text/piece of writing and then again in their own just-right book or piece of writing. Teachers coach students as they read or write to help them take-on the strategy.
Small Group Component Lessons
Small group component lessons are considered mini-inquiry studies around a reading/writing strategy and run over several sessions, as compared to strategy lessons that are typically only one session. This structure supports students within a gradual release framework, where the strategy may be demonstrated through various components of balanced literacy in a small group setting. Students may be at a range of reading levels. (Small Group Component Lessons are based on the thinking and research of Virginia Lockwood Zisa.)