Friday, July 3, 2015

Plan. Prep. Teach. GUIDED GROUPS {Summer B2S Tips}

We are oh so lucky to be teachers because we get the whole summer off, free of any kind of work at all! In fact, be real...that's the real reason any of us became teachers in the first place...

You have no idea (actually, you probably do) how tempting it is to punch someone in the face when they say things like this to me. First of all, I do more work in the 10 months school is in session than you do all year. Honestly, I probably do the same amount of work AT HOME during the school year that you do AT WORK in a full year. Second, I do not have summers "off" from work. Sure, there are meetings, PD, and various other things I will have to attend, but the bottom line is if I don't plan, prep, and research over the summer I will drown in August. Fast.

I don't know about you, but I can't turn my brain off. Even when I'm relaxing, scrolling through Pinterest, the vast majority of my feed is school stuff. The first thing I do every morning (before I get out of bed because I'm super lazy and like to procrastinate in the morning) is check my email and scroll through my update email from Bloglovin' to see what all of you are up to. Lately, I have been really into posts about how to use my summer purposefully. What can I do over the summer to ease the inevitable back to school chaos? Sure, I have my own plan. I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything. I did find some great posts about this here, here, and here. Then I thought, "Why not share my own plans?" I mean the more information out there the better, right?

So, I decided to start a new summer series called, "PLAN.PREP.TEACH.", about all the ways we could prepare for back to school during the summer, if we so choose. Today's post is all about preparing for guided groups.
(UPDATE: Also in this series: Homework & HW Binder Organization)

What groups will you have?
At my old school (read about my decision to switch schools here), we had groups for guided reading, guided math, word study, core extension (LA), and core extension (Math). Oh, and we also had groups for a once-weekly encore switch up among the grade-level. There is no question as to why all of my groups had to be planned out or students would get lost.

At my new school, it seems like I will need groups for guided reading and guided math ONLY (big sigh of relief). My new school is Title 1, so we have a lot of additional support. During my guided reading block, I will only have 1 group, for 30 minutes. I will have a reading specialist, reading assistant, and ESOL teacher that will push in for those 30 minutes and pull their groups. So, for 30 minutes, every student in my class is engaged in a small guided reading group and when the team leaves, I have my whole class back. I am so excited to teach in this model, it is actually the reason that compelled me to interview in the first place. But as you can imagine, I have a lot of reworking to do. For example, I have used Daily 5 for the past 4 1/2 years but I'm not sure I will need that anymore...hmmmm, lot's of things to think about.

Also, I will have a Title 1 math teacher push in 3 times a week during my math block. I can't wait for this because reading is my thing, not math, so I will take any help I can get! I just need to plan on what groups she will pull.

When will you see your groups?
I used to make a schedule that looked like this:

I know, I know, it is not truly Daily 5 if you tell them what centers to go to and take away their choice. Honestly, the choice of centers just did not work for me. They have choice when they get there of what to read, or what to write, or what word work activity to do, they just can't choose their center. I have had way too many student behavior issues and mean-girl drama over the years to deal with that. So I don't, and my centers run smoothly.

For reading this year, I will only need to see my one group during the alotted 30 minutes that I have "the team" in my room. Simple.

For math, my lowest group will need to be seen every day. I figure I can pull them on the days when I don't have the Title 1 math teacher, and she can pull them when she is in the classroom. My second lowest will need to be pulled 3-4 times a week and my highest two only 2-3 times. I plan on doing math workshop for only 2 centers a day this year, so I can really go in depth with the groups I am pulling.

I have been doing math workshop for the past 5 years, but in many different forms. This year, I think I am going back to the M.A.T.H. set-up since I will have fewer students and can have only 4 centers. The acronym (in my classroom) stands for: Meet the Teacher (guided groups), At Your Seat (independent work/task cards), Technology (computers, iPads, or Smart Board), and Hands-On (fact fluency games).

I like the super cute set-up below from The Teaching Sweet Shoppe.

What will you call your groups?
Ok, this may seem like a silly thing to plan ahead, but you quickly run out of group names when you are trying to juggle 6 different groupings like I was at my old school. I had colors, fruit, animals, you name it!

This year, I really want to do a teamwork/sports theme, so I decided to name my guided groups after NFL, NBA, and MLB teams. To help cut down on August prep, I already made posters for the groups that I can print on cardstock, laminate, and hang on the wall so I can quickly switch up groupings using a dry-erase marker. I uploaded these posters here for FREE if you are interested.

How will you track progress?
I like to create my own anecdotal notes forms so I can include only the information that I think is important. I create different forms every year. Sometimes I bundle them into prong folders by group and sometimes I throw them into a binder alphabetically by student. Either way, if you are like me, this is the perfect time to get creating. These forms will be the last on your list once school starts.

If you can answer all of the questions above, then you are in good shape. Please comment with your thoughts and advice, I know you guys have more amazing ideas that I haven't yet stumbled upon. See you next time!


  1. Yes, I love it when people assume that teachers "stop working" in the summer! I've been prepping for next year since like April :). Loving the sports themed groups!