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Guided Reading in the Upper Grade Classroom: Getting Started


Whether you use a reading workshop approach or not, guided reading is a component of literacy that many K-5 teachers use in their classroom. I want our sessions to have a comfortable feeling where students can ask questions, try new strategies, and work together to become more strategic readers. Setting up this environment takes some work and planning, which is why our class didn't begin meeting until the fourth week of school. I'd like to share some of the fundamentals of getting guided reading off the ground at the beginning of the year. 

Planning and Setting Up Guided Reading Sessions

Book Organization

Hopefully your school has a book-room with leveled texts available for checkout. I assumed my school had one when I interviewed and accepted a position. It was only after I accepted that I learned a book-room was not included with the school.  The only resources provided were basal leveled trade books. What was I to do?

Knowing that my kids come in more levels than high, medium, and low, I purchased an account with Reading A-Z. If you are not familiar with this wonderful resource, you can print books at various levels and topics for a reasonable price. I printed as many nonfiction topics as possible. With a large stack of single book copies from a printer, I recruited the help of some parent volunteers to help organize it all.  I had parents make more copies, fold the books, staple them, place them in a large zip lock bag, and label it with the title and level at the top (Fountas and Pinnell conversion chart). From there all the books were sorted in a tall filing cabinet, A-Z, for easy access.

Selecting Books

Each week I take a moment to look through our book collection. I keep record of who I have met with, what book was read, what skill/strategy was worked on, as well as my observation notes from our meetings together. I use this information to select books for the week and create flexible or strategy groupings based on need. I then place guided reading books in a bin for easy access. For now, we start with books that are at the independent level (95% accuracy) because we are focusing on modeling procedures, thinking, talking, and recording our thoughts on paper. Once routines are mastered, students will read books that are at the instructional level (90%-94% accuracy and 75% comprehension) as well as meet with students of varying levels to talk about specific reading strategies.

Also worth noting is how I determine a student's reading level.  I have used a variety of tools, including DRA, Rigby's Running Record kit, informal running records, and STAR testing.  Using a combination of these assessments has helped me know where to start. Individual conferences helps me change flexible groupings on a regular basis.   

Teaching Procedures for Guided Reading Meetings

My first meetings with guided reading groups involved very little reading. Our topics focused on procedures and expectations. Here are some of the things we discussed/modeled in our first meetings together:

~ First, we discussed how our group will come to the meeting area. For us that means sitting next to each other "EEKK" style in a circle as we don't have a guided reading table to work with. "EEKK" stands for elbow to elbow and knee to knee. A spot is left open for me, as I usually join the group last.

~ Students record the title of the book and date in their notebook. We make sure to uppercase the proper letters, spell it correctly, and underline the title each time. This information goes under the guided reading tab in our reader's notebook.

~ We review guided reading guidelines (provided in the notebook), focusing on participating, listening to each other, and valuing each other's questions and inquiries.  I really stress that we are never to laugh at someone's question because one laugh might make that student feel too afraid to ask another question again. Unanswered questions from the session go on a board called, "I Wonder" and we research these answers throughout the week.

~ Note taking.  For us, rather than write notes in the reader's notebook, we are starting with post-it notes instead. My reasoning is that post-it notes are easy and friendly to move from page to page. Our format for jotting down notes includes a "*" for interesting information learned, a "?" for anything that is confusing, and a "W" for general questions or wonders. As time progresses we will write more notes directly in the reader's notebook.

General Format for Our Meetings Together

What do you know?- On a typical meeting together students are handed a new book after a workshop lesson has been completed. Students grab their reader's notebook, a pencil, and quietly go to the meeting area where they will follow the procedures above. A quick skim through of the book is completed and students write down anything they already know about the topic in their reader's notebook. They can also record vocabulary that troubles them as well.  This usually consumes the first 3 to 4 minutes of our meeting, and I may or may not be present during this time.

Reflect- Once I have joined the group I take a second to reflect on our last meeting together. Often students take the book from our last meeting and finish it independently or re-read it for understanding.  We take a moment to discuss the previous read before introducing the new one.  With the new book I have students share what they already know about the topic or what they would like to know. Many times I get lucky and have an expert at hand! Vocabulary is not necessarily addressed if it is a nonfiction piece, as this information is modeled as one of the features.

Strategy Focus/Talk- From here I usually take a moment to discuss a specific strategy or skill with the group. This may include vocabulary strategies, using nonfiction features, or inferring while we read. This means that I usually model skimming through the book and thinking out loud, followed by reading the first few pages to demonstrate and model the desired skill/strategy.  Students are then encouraged to do the same, using post-it notes to record their thinking, as they whisper read or independently read to themselves.

Conference Time- At this point, I move from student to student and ask them to read to me. I may spend one to two minutes with the student and use this as a power conference. Looking at their notes and listening to how they are reading allows me to provide feedback and assess how they are working in that group. I record this information in a notebook as I move from student to student. After making the rounds, I then stop the group to discuss what we have been reading and recording so far. We also take time to compare our notes, which models strong note taking to each other.

Time Required- In total, we usually meet anywhere from 15 minutes to 25 minutes. It just depends on the length of the book and the focus of the meeting. If it is a shorter meeting, I might ask students to take the book with them to read with a partner at a later time.

Building On- After guided reading sessions are underway and established, I usually have students create a chart together based on the reading. This requires students to work together without me, so I utilize parent volunteers if possible. After the chart is completed, it is presented to the class and posted in various hallways around the school.    

Finding the Time to Meet

It can be a real challenge teaching in the upper grades. So much content is expected to be covered, yet we don't want learning to feel stressful and rushed. In our room, we utilize three reading/writing blocks throughout the day. This structure allows me to use two of the blocks for reading and writing conferences and one block to meet for guided reading sessions. The last block is at the end of the day, so you may find me on the floor at 2:30 on a Friday afternoon meeting with a guided reading group. Click here to view a detailed schedule in our room.   

Photos That Support Guided Reading

To learn more about our classroom, visit us here.


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Angela Bunyi

Hello Ann!

It's great to hear someone excited about teaching...and I am glad you have found my blog (although my time is almost up now-3 months left).

You can find and print the decoding posters on another blog post I wrote:


The very best to you,


Ann Boring

Angela....I just stumbled across your site recently & I am enjoying it immensely, I teach in south Texas where the reading workshop is just now making its way here gradually. I am a reading lab teacher who works with struggling readers grades 1 through 5 during RTI time. I love my job! I noticed on a picture that you had decoding strategies for kids to use, but I can't make them all out due to the slide rotation of the pictures. Although my decoding strategies are the same...you gave it some "spice" to make it more fun....would you please post them so I can write them down? Thank you & read on!

Angela Bunyi

Hello Melissa,
Wow. It sounds like you have a lot to work with. I think I would be stressed as well! Anyway, I love working out schedules. It was something I enjoyed helping with as a literacy coach, and I feel like I am good at making use of the day.

However, at the moment, I am getting materials ready for my student teacher tomorrow. Would you mind sending me an email with your general daily schedule? I know is technically located above, but if you already have the general times printed, I can piece everything else together (ex- content area time, recess, lunch, etc.) I will then look at after school and see if I can give you another perspective.


Best of luck to you,




I am new to your blog, but it is awesome. Here is my dilemma for guided reading groups. I can't figure out how to schedule it. Essentially, I have a 90 minute language arts block, in which I have to teach both Writing and Reading. On Mondays, I teach word study and have separate word study groups. That seems to be going well.

However, for Tuesday-Friday, I am struggling setting a schedule. Here is an example of what I do:
From 100-125 I teach writing with an ESOL co-teacher. We have to teach writing on Tuesday-Thursday, and then on M, F we can focus on skills.
Then I have 125-215 left. I have five reading groups! I teach fourth grade with ESL inclusion. The ESL teacher can't take a reading group because they are supposed to meet with me (that would have alleviated this whole problem). My lowest group is on a second grade level. Then I have two different fourth grade levels simply because of their needs. Then I have a fifth grade leveled group and a sixth/seventh grade level group. I am thinking of combining the two top groups. I am required to teach guided reading everyday to the lowest group.

I like to fit in literacy centers as well during this time for rotations, but eventually they get too rowdy and start disturbing others in other centers. (I've got a rough group this year).

There is no other time during the day to swap things around. I've been stressing about this and can't figure out how to fix it. I don't even have much time to teach a whole group lesson. Should I strictly do a whole group lesson and assign books? HELP!



I am new to your blog, but it is awesome. Here is my dilemma for guided reading groups. I can't figure out how to schedule it. Essentially, I have a 90 minute language arts block, in which I have to teach both Writing and Reading. On Mondays, I teach word study and have separate word study groups. That seems to be going well.

However, for Tuesday-Friday, I am struggling setting a schedule. Here is an example of what I do:
From 100-125 I teach writing with an ESOL co-teacher. We have to teach writing on Tuesday-Thursday, and then on M, F we can focus on skills.
Then I have 125-215 left. I have five reading groups! I teach fourth grade with ESL inclusion. The ESL teacher can't take a reading group because they are supposed to meet with me (that would have alleviated this whole problem). My lowest group is on a second grade level. Then I have two different fourth grade levels simply because of their needs. Then I have a fifth grade leveled group and a sixth/seventh grade level group. I am thinking of combining the two top groups. I am required to teach guided reading everyday to the lowest group.

I like to fit in literacy centers as well during this time for rotations, but eventually they get too rowdy and start disturbing others in other centers. (I've got a rough group this year).

There is no other time during the day to swap things around. I've been stressing about this and can't figure out how to fix it. I don't even have much time to teach a whole group lesson. Should I strictly do a whole group lesson and assign books? HELP!

Angela Bunyi


Yes, you are correct about guided reading, but I do mix in the basal trade books (my school does NOT have a bookroom-gasp-gasp!). For example, I had a parent (w/ teaching experience) come in and help with a guided reading group yesterday. Her group had a reading a-z text. My group had a nonfiction basal trade book. I also have the kids create a follow-up or finish reading with a partner from the group. They really seem to enjoy revisiting the book with a friend. It also gives them another opportunity to practice fluency and talk about their understanding.

I promise I will add a post on guided reading this month sometime. I start to add more to the plate as the year goes. For me, conferences comes first.

And Christmas presents. This has been the big debate with my teaching partner. She was also convinced that I had a great idea that was cheap. I have a unique one from a few years back and plan on getting presents for the parents AND students for a grand total of 8 dollars. I'll share that this weekend. I'm not about spending a lot of money :)



Hello, (again)
I just wanted to get a clear picture in my mind-in your guided reading groups, the students read about one book per week-using reading a-z?

The letter writing is between you and the student with thier free choice novel?

Last question---can you PLEASE tell me what you have your kids do for a Christmas gift for their familes??? You have such great ideas!
Thanks again for everything you do-I can't tell you how much you have helped me!!
Dalese Brooks

Angela Bunyi

Great question Vanessa. When I started Barfield last year my original lesson plans were overkill. I included who was going to be reading each guided reading book, the strategy/skill addressed, who was going to conference, and I detailed the actual lesson, etc. I did this because (I believe) I was the only one using a workshop approach at that time. I felt like my principal deserved the details to understand all we do in the classroom. I no longer add this much detail.

Lesson plan format- My school has a specific format, so it may not work for you. We have to include the objectives, the hook (intro.), materials, the lesson, and evaulation. Each subject is reported for the week individually. In addition, we need to color-code areas that include writing (yellow), technology (blue), and higher order thinking skills (green). They are due Monday morning of each week.

So, with all said, with four mini-lessons a day and a blended approach...my lesson plans look like something else! I just head the top with "Reading/Language Arts/Spelling/Vocabulary" and add the graph that is posted under my schedule link on the website. This means I have four reported lessons each day that usually spans 4 pages in length. I no longer add guided reading and conference info. anymore to lesson plans (but of course, I write that out for myself).

With all this said, I can't add an attachment here. I will add one to my Saturday post for you. It's easier to show, not tell!

Happy Friday...


I have just discovered your website and am amazed. I am a fourth grade teacher and have taught for nearly twenty years. I have seen education really change. Over the last few years, I am trying to incorporate many new reading and writing strategies. Though I can do most of them, I think the one thing I still struggle with is...what do my lesson plans look like for the principal? What do yours look like? I struggle with what it needs to look like. We execute so much daily, how is that reflected in lesson plans? Thanks for being willing to share so much of yourself and your teaching.


Angela Bunyi

Hey Jessica,

My guess is that this is a mandate coming above your adminstrator. Without having a background in literacy, your principal may have taken the implementation incorrectly and assumed that you must meet with every group every day. Assuming that you meet with each group for 20 minutes, it would take 1.5 hours without adding the whole group instruction time. How long are your literacy blocks (that might eliminate the mandate automatically)? Are you self-contained? If you're self-contained, you might be able to work around this a little. I am NOT a fan of Pavelka's work (actually she had a name change-can't remember) but she does have a book titled Guided Reading Management. This book does include a method to get in meetings for the most needy kids every day and the higher groups frequently, but not as often. I don't like the centers approach beyond that, but it will give you a framework to work with in regards to guided reading and will help a lot. I am trying to stay upbeat and work within your requirements.

A Fan of One on One...

On the other hand, if I were in your shoes I would be devasted because it would eliminate my one on one time for reading and writing conferences (and we have a larger literacy block than the average classroom already). I would share my current schedule with my administration and discuss why it would kill my teacher autonomy and balance of teaching reading AND writing. And it's not that I don't value guided reading, I was still working with a guided reading group today up to 3:00 (we dismiss at 3:05) and it was very productive... it's just unbalanced to meet with each group every single day.

Seriously, let me know if you have any questions beyond this. I don't feel like I have answered your question properly, as I think I asked you more questions than you asked me! Because this is a public forum, feel free to email me as well.

Much respect,




My principal wants us to start having Guided Reading Plans. I teach 5th grade and she expects us to get through 1 book a day with each of our 5 groups. That amounts to 25 lesson plans a week, just for guided reading. Does this sound like a realistic expectation to you? I am completly overwhelmed. Interested to hear your thoughts.


Angela Bunyi


Maybe I really do have it together. :) I just answered your first question under my latest blog today- Management Based on Trust. I think that sums up how I get my students to try their best. Within the post, I also share how low the work ethics were and how motivation seemed to be lacking at the beginning of the year. This year holds the record for the most kids needing a fire to be lit under them (coincedence I cry?). So, if this is the case for you...here's the good news. These students make the most progress once you find a way to light them up. And then they just go, go, go. I am already seeing major growth from a few students that just went under the radar last year. It feels like a different class to me now (and I am thankful of this).

But on a side note, you really need to give yourself time to transition into the 4th grade. That takes time, and this should not be underestimated. From my experience kindergarten teachers make wonderful upper grade teachers. They have the heart, patience, and creativity to bring heavy standards to life.

And for my schedule, I have a crazy detailed schedule posted online. You can find it at:

Grades (for reading and writing): The super awesome thing about having 4 mini-lessons a day is that I have so many things to chose from for assessment. 4 x 5 = 20 lessons each week. 20 opportunities= plethora of grades to choose from. We also take two grades a week per subject. I just try to mix it up with some traditional measurements, moderate, and out of the box assessments. I also try to select the assignments that provide an accurate picture on where they are, and with so many mini-lessons, this is a breeze. But this question might deserve a blog post at some point. I don't worry about recorded grades as much as formattive assessment. This is the meat that I worry about, and it happens to be the thing I grade the least.

Keep on plowing forward,


Tamaran Garriott

I am in my 11th year of teaching, but my first year in 4th grade. I just finished a six-year run in kindergarten. I am so frustrated, because I am having trouble with scheduling & motivation. My kids don't seem to care if they complete quality work. I know this is my job, but I haven't figured it out yet! Any suggestions?
As for scheduling, I love the idea of mini-lessons. Where/how do you fit in the content areas (SS, Sci)? Also, my district requires a minimum of 12 grades per grading period in each subject. Where do you get your grades? I want meaningful grades, not just numbers in my book. Help!!! I am so frustrated & you seem so VERY together!!!


Angela Bunyi

Hello Jen,

I love, love, love the reader's notebook by Fountas & Pinnell through Heinemann. The price is about 5 dollars a notebook, and they are so worth it. Very durable, and a great way to show growth throughout the year. I have mentioned this before, but you can google Beth Newingham's site for a free version of each page in the notebook...however, I don't think you would regret the purchased version. Even my "messiest" student has a folder that looks great. I expect them all to last for the year. I can't say that about our math or science journals!

You can find more information on how I use them under my blog: A Blended Approach to Reading and Writing Conferences. The direct address is:

This includes the direct link for ordering and more in-depth photos.

Let me know if you have any questions...



I looked at your pictures for your guided reading groups-what notebooks do you use? I have always used folders, but those seem to work well. thanks

**Love all the ideas!**

Angela Bunyi

Hello Jan,

That's great to hear! We have a lot of visitors in our room and guided reading is the number one thing mentioned for an area of struggle.

On a side note, I have been giving the option for students to use the third block to practice re-reading the guided reading book with a partner. This has gone over VERY well, and enforces fluency practice and talk.

Please let me know if I can help you in anyway...

Jan Anttila

Thank you for this comprehensive information on Guided Reading in the upper grades. I am a literacy trainer in my district and have been working with many intermediate teachers in my district to get them started with Guided Reading. Your information and photos will be invaluable for these teachers. Thanks so much!

Jan Anttila

Thank you for this comprehensive information on Guided Reading in the upper grades. I am a literacy trainer in my district and have been working with many intermediate teachers in my district to get them started with Guided Reading. Your information and photos will be invaluable for these teachers. Thanks so much!

Angela Bunyi

Hello again,

Fall break and putting together a 432 piece K'nex drop and swing kit with my son, Eli= quick responses to give my fingers a break!

I'm happy to know that I am not the only feeling blah about literature circles.I am sure others can successfully make it work in their room, but it just doesn't work for me...

Okay, here you go on responses:

Reading Partnerships: How about a post on this for my more formal blog on Saturday? The only downside will be lack of photos (but I have a few), as I usually gather those the week of...no kids this week, but I can make it work. :)

Reading Reflection Letters: Sounds like your system is going great, and I think I might add a post on this for my mid-week blog upcoming.

Modeling: You are right on about modeling. Model, model, model. With permission, photo copy a letter that is an examplar for other students. Share that with the class. I stress that the letters should not be a "prove it" sort of "book report", but a deeper conversation on what is going on in your mind while reading. I also use my letter back to students to be explicit with what I am expecting.

Ex- Sarah, I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying your book. You mentioned X, but I'd love to hear about some of the things going on in your mind while reading and/or some of the strategies that have been helping you becoming a better reader. For the next letter, would you mind...

Compliments: I also strongly believe sincere compliments on those aspects of the letter that are strong helps a lot. A simple, "Thank you for using the word inferring in your letter. That lets me know you are taking care with your letter and thoughts."

Conference Time: You can also use your conference time to talk about the letter if needed. With one of my students I had to say, "This is not exactly what I am looking for. Would you mind if I showed you another letter?" I had a 200% improvement on the next letter to me the following week.

Time: And a final note...and I stress this....time. This is another mantra for me, which must be repeated again. Time is soooo important, and by providing careful responses back to your students and modeling strong letters throughout the year, letter quality will improve as the year goes on. For my class, the first two letters vs. the last two letters are worlds away in quality.

Best to you,

P.S. K'nex rocks!


Thank you for the quick response!!!

I am right there with you in regards to lit circles. I have tried a couple of times and they just didn't work for me and my students. I would love to hear more about how you do Reading Partnerships. I have read and used some of the materials that Beth Newingham has on her site, but would love to hear how you manage them. Do you have students create questions or anything as they go or do they just orally discuss every couple of days?

Okay, just one more question. I am also trying to do the letter format this year for the students to respond each week to their independent reading. I have only had the students do about 2 so far. We have also created some as a class, but I am wondering if you have found a good way to model/teach students to write more than just a few sentences and think they should be done. This last week I have had them complete 2 post-its a day and then use all of their "thinking" after a few days to then create their letter response. My thought was that they would remember more by looking back at them.

Thanks again for sharing!! I so appreciate all that you have shared.

Angela Bunyi

Hello Lori,

Very, very good question. This one is really tough for me, and I may not be the one to answer it for you (someone out there reading may want to chime in?)....I have never been a fan of the chapter book length guided reading books because I like thinking small, winning often. A small skill, with a small book. It seems to have a greater impact and most of our books are addressed in one to two sessions. Also, a majority of the time I am using a nonfiction book, so chapter books wouldn't work most of the time.

There is a lot of information on literature circles available out there, but I just never, ever thought it felt real (ex-systems that have the word recorder, the summarizer, the predictor-not REAL!). So, If I were in your shoes, this is what I would do:

* Find independent leveled books (from the bookroom) for students and encourage them to read a chapter book with their reading partner. I allow students reading the same book two different days a week to stop and talk about what they are reading with their partner (in the afternoon). Several also listen to the same book on tape/CD as we have plugs that allow two headphones to be plugged into one unit. To me, this reminds me of the way real readers read a book and discuss it together.

* I would talk to my literacy coach about ordering shorter, nonfiction books for the collection. In my previous job, teachers also asked for shorter books in the upper grade spectrum.

* Yep, Reading A-Z and trade books that are short and nonfiction would consist of my guided reading diet. I suddenly feel stuck in my ways.

And, if I didn't help much here....at least I have helped in other ways, right? :)





I have read your blog consistently since you have started and am so encouraged by your suggestions and ideas. Also, I have been to your website many, many times. I actually have purchased the Comprehension Connections book you talk about and use to create your Comprehension Strategies bulletin board. I have done a few lessons from it and the students love and understand the topics so well.

I really appreciate this post as I am just starting my guided reading groups for this year. Last year was the first year that I did a Reader's Workshop approach and this year I am adding in a little bit of the Daily 5 ideas as well. My question is in choosing books. My school does have book room that seems GREAT, but so many of the books are chapter books. I know you use Reading A-Z and I have used leveled readers that came with our basal, which are much shorter in length, but how would you use a chapter book (making use of our book room) in a guided reading group that wouldn't last for weeks and weeks because of the length. Does that make sense? Last year I used a few of the leveled books for some lit circle/Reading with Someone work. I would love you thoughts. THANK YOU!

Angela Bunyi

Hello Kim,

Wow, that's almost from the beginning (site launced September 25th last year)! And how flattering that you have implemented many/all of the concepts posted on the site. I sincerly hope that has made a lasting impact for you and your students this year. I can honestly say I have a passion for what I do and hope you feel the same way too! I also hope that I can keep providing new, fresh ideas that are not already posted on my site.

Again, thank you so much for the postive feedback. Considering you have followed me for a while, please let me know what you would like to see here for a topic or area of focus. I sometimes feel like I am guessing at what is helpful for other teachers.



Kim Harkreader

Mrs. Bunyi,
I continue to be amazed at your ability to explain your ideas so vividly. I have followed you and your classes, via cyberworld, since January 2008 and have always found your information to be so easy to understand and implement. Your eye for detail is greatly appreciated. As a visual learner myself, the extra efforts you take to explain your ideas and strategies really help me implement the ideas into my classroom with ease. I was so excited to hear you had become a Scholastic Advisor. I knew that could only mean-more ideas!!! I have been implementing many (all) of your reading suggestions since the beginning of this school year. This article was very helpful at keeping myself in check and ensuring I am on the right reading track. Keep the great posts coming! Kim

Angela Bunyi

Thanks! Somedays I don't feel so amazing, but I am enjoying what I am doing in the classroom.

Regarding the reader's notebook, if you google Heinemann you can purchase it under them. I believe it is 5 notebooks for 25 dollars and they offer a cheaper price if you buy 25. I can't remember the price though.

Copies of Reading Journals- I have been photo copying a page or two for our teacher visitors in our room this year (which has been a lot!). Do you mean examples to view or copies you can print and use? Either way, I've got you covered:

Example of a reader's notebook- I have a video clip listed under the reading/writing conference blog (2 weeks back). It is from the very first week of school. Tomorrow is our last day before a break. I plan on creating a new video as the notebooks now look incredible! I will post a link on this blog and my site shortly (www.mrsbunyi.com for a quick link into my page).

Copies of a reader's notebook- You can google Beth Newingham (on my favorites list) and go under her reader's workshop link. She has typed up copies exactly as it looks for each section. I found it time consuming for copies AND expensive when you consider placing it in a notebook and adding sheet protectors. But I guess, officially, that is the free method. Beth rocks if you haven't visited her site. She was a former Teacher Advisor for Scholastic as well.

Hoping you have a wonderful week!


Angela, you are amazing!! I was wondering if it is possible to get copies of your reading journals?
Thanks for all you do!

Angela Bunyi


Excellent question about my schedule, and to be honest I am surprised no one has asked me about it yet! It sounds like you understood my schedule correctly, in that yes, we do have three reading/writing blocks, but we have four mini-lessons each day. I just couldn't find the time in our schedule to have four or five blocks as suggested in The Daily Five, but I kept 4 lessons in the schedule to allow time for one more isolated skill that didn't need a block to reinforce. I believe 2 or 3 blocks is suggested anyway for the upper grades. Considering that I just finished my lesson plans, I will share my 4 lessons scheduled for tomorrow with you. :)

Lesson 1: Reader's Workshop- following Strategies That Work on Fix-Up Strategies
Reader's workshop during this time. I will post my anchor chart on the site tomorrow, if interested.

Lesson 2: Writer's Workshop- Lucy Calkin's Units of Study- Reading with a Writer's Eye- Intro. to our narrative unit.
Writer's Workshop during this time.

Lesson 3: Intro. to our word study words this week- We will create body movement to remember the stem meanings of five words (on the site-list 7). A slide show (on site as well) will be shown. A spelling pre-test will also be given during this time.
*This time frame is all whole group. No block follows it as we go to related arts. On other days I might place a convention lesson here as well.*

Lesson 4: The basal skill is required at my school. It happens to be inferring which I have addressed in depth through other literature and text (Reading with Meaning, Reading Connections, and Strategies That Work). We will go through the given story to review this skill.
Students have the option of reading, writing, reading with their partner, or completing word study work during this last block.

It is during mini-lesson #1, #2 that I usually conduct the combined reading and writing conference. My kids have just learned to bring everything with them, and I am totally loving this approach. It is really simple, but I am amazed at how much I can see how reading and writing go together for each student. I've also been surprised to see that no one forgots to bring all of their materials to our meetings. Here are the bring to the meeting materials:
*Reader's notebook
*Writer's notebook
*At home reading log
*Book(s) being read

Mini-lesson #4 is where I usually conduct guided reading sessions.

And, thank you for sharing your difficulty in getting everything "in"...I think upper grade teachers feel that the most, and it let's me know that we are all in the same boat! I hope my info. helps, as it really is making a difference for me this year.

Looking forward to a 4 day teaching week (fieldtrip on Friday) and one week off for a fall break!

Best to you...

Cassie Friermood

Hi Angela!

I have a couple of questions for you about your classroom schedule (I have looked at in on your website).

I notice that you have 4 mini-lessons everyday.
Lesson one is Reader's Workshop- after that lesson are all your students doing independent reading in their JR books? but since you are doing reading and writing conferences together do the kids just know to bring their writer's notebook too.

Then doing mini-lesson 2- Writer's Workshop- are all kids writing except those conferring then they bring their reading stuff too?

Now where I get a little confused- mini-lesson 3 doesn't have workshop time afterwards? but mini-lesson 4 does? what are the students doing after that mini-lesson?

Would you mind maybe sharing what all four mini-lessons would be about during one day- like just one of your days this week? Do they all relate (connecting your reading and writing)?

Sorry for so many questions- but I'm loving the idea of combining RW and WW conferences bc I sure have a heck of a time getting to them all (and I haven't even thought about GR yet...ahh)

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer! Last week I started to organize my classroom after your help! Thanks :)


Angela Bunyi

Hello Crystal,

I hope you are enjoying 4th grade. I think it is a great age frame to teach. Considering that you are new to the grade, give yourself some time to get time management working for you. It is really an adjustment going from grade to grade or even school to school. Last year, for example, I returned to the classroom in a new county. I had been out of the classroom for a while as a literacy coach. With all my ideas, I thought I would just jump right back into teaching 4th grade (a grade that I had taught for two years before). Not so. I really felt like it was my toughest teaching year in my career. And the thing that I struggled with the most. was, oddly, fitting in guided reading (and yes, I missed some groups too!).

So here are my tips, for what they are worth:

*I know I have said this many times on the blog and elsewhere, but I REALLY think managing in time for a third reading/writing block makes all the difference. I know this is not possible for everyone, but it works! I don't feel like I am going through a checklist of meeting with kids and "getting" guided reading in. I magically have time to give kids the time needed one on one and in a small group setting. I am doing 100% with completing reading and writing conferences, as well as meeting with at least one guided reading group each day. You can look at my schedule to get an idea of how that works.

* Modeling- It seems like my group last year came in eager readers and writers. This year has taken more modeling and time. For this reason, it depends on your kids. For this year I actually conducted a whole group lesson on what guided reading is, why we conduct it, and what is expected. From there, we had a practice session following my tips here in the blog. The next meeting just included a lot of, "Okay, let's see if you know what to do...Good, you write the title correctly, underline it, and include the date." Your group may need more or less modeling, depending.

Managing it all- I believe it was Sharon Taberski (now retired) who would rotate individual conferences with guided reading at the beginning of the year. She didn't hold conferences AND guided reading every day. She rotated her emphasis by week. Week 1- More guided reading, less conferences. Week 2- More conferences, less guided reading. That might be an option for you as it will help ease you and your kids into the swing of things. Again, you should give yourself permission to not manage it all right now. I needed to tell myself that last year, as I expected to do it all as a former literacy coach...the truth was, I couldn't!

Ending with another quote from Taberski. She visited our county for a day and teacher was sharing how she was struggling to manage a balanced literacy approach. She responded, "Some days you just have to say that it was good enough." Considering you have completed DRA and running records on all your students, I am super impressed! Keep it up...sounds like you are doing enough to me.

Crystal Russell

Mrs. Bunyi,
I am a 4th grade teacher in Arkansas. I have been teaching for almost four years. I have been visiting your website every since this past summer. I came across your website while looking for reading workshop ideas. I have enjoyed the wonderful pictures and ideas. This is my first year teaching 4th grade. I am amazed by your wonderful website.
I was just wondering if you had any ideas as to the best way to begin guided reading groups. I have completed my DRA and completed several running records. I have my students grouped but, I am having a hard time being consistent with meeting with the groups.
Do you have any scheduling suggestions?
I read your Scholastic blog. I am just wondering how many management mini lessons there would be before the students would actually begin guided reading?
I know that you are very busy, but if you have time please give me some ideas.

Fourth Grade Arkansas Teacher

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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