What to do Wednesday: Virtual Guided Reading, Say What?


Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,

I have been teaching for six years and just like everyone else, this year is like no other. Our school is teaching virtually for the first quarter and then we will be re-evaluating to see what will happen. I teach first graders and so far we have really been focusing on getting to know you activities. However, after Labor Day our principal told us that we needed to begin guided reading groups. Seriously? First graders in virtual guided reading groups? How in the world does a teacher even make that work?  I have been open-minded to this whole process and learning new ways of teaching, but this might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. If you have any advice I would be happy to listen!

Skeptically Yours,

Virtual Guided Reading, Say What?

Dear Virtual Guided Reading, Say What?,

Congratulations on six years in education! That is a major accomplishment, especially in this day and age! Woohoo!  I appreciate your willingness to be open-minded through this all because let's face it, no matter how well we plan there can always be a glitch.

Now, let's address your virtual guided reading situation. Let me start by telling you that if you don't follow Jen Jones from @helloliteracy, RUN and make it happen now! Not only does Jen offer professional development training on this very topic, but literally she will answer EVERY question you have. She's amazing! 

I am going to offer some suggestions to get you started in case you don't have time to watch all of Jen Jones' videos. Obviously, begin with running records and benchmark assessments. If you're not using RAZ Kids try to ask your school if this is a possibility especially for virtual learning. Epic is another great resource for e-books online. If parents question their child's reading level, you may have to explain that being virtual is difficult for some students which makes it tricky to get a true assessment. Reassure the parents that you will adjust and re-evaluate throughout the quarter.

Once you have the assessments done, then I would group students accordingly. Assuming you use Zoom, separate students, into breakout rooms so you can pop in and out. Your main focus is going to the reading group you're meeting with, but perhaps you can give them an independent reading task while checking on the other groups. The other groups can be working on writing skills or word work activities. Now, this is assuming your students have to be on for the duration of the day. If not, I would set up a schedule of at-home literacy practice skills that students can complete on the days they don't meet with you.

Do not expect to follow a traditional guided reading schedule. You might only meet with each group twice a week which is definitely not ideal, but we do the best with the cards we're dealt with. When you do meet with groups, you might consider putting each student in their individual breakout room so when they have to read aloud others won't be able to hear them, only you can listen. From here, I would do my best to run a reading group. Be the scaffold. Provide feedback. Celebrate reading!

I could go on and on with more ideas, but hopefully, this will get you started! Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) if need any more assistance. I am happy to help! Nothing brings me more joy than knowing our Lesson Plan Toolbox Community is helping to make the lives of teachers just a bit more simple.


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