In one of my last posts, I talked a bit about the reading groups I set up in my classes at the start of the school year. As the new school year is approaching (yikes!), I thought I would go into a little more depth about the Reading Groups I use, how I set them up, and some of the ways we use them facilitate learning. In this post, I will talk about a fun activity I do to get my students divided into Reading Groups,while making sure all students are reading an at-level book that interests them.
In my room, I have several small class sets of novels (4-5 books each), at a range of reading levels. I was able to pick all of these titles myself (hooray!), so I made sure to choose ones that I knew the kids would really love. I also tried to choose some titles from different genres, and some that were a bit obscure (but still great!), so my super keen readers would not have already read all of them. The images below and at the top of this post show some of our favorites.
If you are in the process of setting up a class set of novels for Reading Groups, I strongly suggest these titles. Some are certainly more difficult than others, but having a wide range makes it excellent for differentiation.
At the start of the year, and every time I introduce new novels, I have the kids do a round of "Reading Group Musical Chairs". I choose 7 sets of books, and place a set at each table. I then put a timer up on the screen, and give the kids 5 minutes to read the book in front of them. They then fill out their "Reading Group Musical Chairs" sheet, and make note of how challenging the book was for them to read, and their interest level. I then have the kids stand up and move to a different group. They can go to any table in the classroom, as long as they have not already read that book. We then repeat the activity for another 5 minutes. We usually do this 2-3 times a class, until all of the books have been read and recorded. If I have them read for much longer than that they tend to get a little antsy.
At the end of the activity, I collect all of the "Reading Group Musical Chairs" sheets, and read them over. I try to put the kids into groups with a book that has a high interest level for them, and is at their proper reading level. I love that this activity prevents kids from choosing a book simply because their friend wants to read it. The kids really like this activity, as they feel they have an actual say in what book they are going to read, and are therefore more engaged in the activities we do with them throughout the year.
If you would like to try this activity with your class, you can download the recording sheet (with instructions) for free by clicking on the image below. I will take you directly to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, where you can download it for free :)