Tag Archives: Classroom Forms

Dreading Summer Regression? All You Need is a Plan!

2 May

With summer nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the dreaded summer regression (insert frustrated teacher sigh); however, the summer slide doesn’t have to be a reality for every student. Encourage parents to prepare now by developing a summer reading plan, and show them the importance of summer reading so their children don’t lose any of the gains they worked so hard to make this year.

Emphasize the Importance of Summer Reading

The “summer slide” is a common occurrence for many students. Often, summers get busy and reading isn’t a priority. Parents want to give their children a break from school, or they don’t wish to battle their children who are reluctant to pick up a book. Sometimes, they aren’t even aware the negative effects this academic break causes. Summer regression a big issue, especially for struggling readers, but it can be avoided.

Be proactive. Send home a parent letter explaining the benefits of summer reading, or email your classroom parents to share a few informative websites. This information may be just what they need to see the value of summer reading and may encourage families to take action and make a plan for summer reading.

Helpful Resources: 

Encourage Parents to Create a Summer Reading Plan

So often we say we’re going to do things, but unless we’re intentional with our time and an action plan is in place, it’s probably not going to happen. Being mindful of our goals and actually writing down our plans helps with accountability. Similar to my weekly “to do” list – writing it down doesn’t guarantee it will happen, but the act of creating a plan increases the chances immensely. 🙂

Consider sending home a planning page to help families start thinking about their summer reading plans. There is one planning page for families to complete together, and one for students to complete. Which form they choose will depend if it’s a whole family initiative – where every family member takes part in the summer reading challenge – or just the children.

I would encourage parents to fill these forms out with their children! You can model the conversation students can have with their families and make it the planning page part of their homework. Or if you don’t want to make it mandatory, get creative and think of some incentives that would encourage your students to have the conversation with their families. For example, students can bring in their plan into school to show you for a free homework pass to use during these last few weeks of school, or they can earn a ticket for a fun raffle drawing – perhaps for a prize or a fun lunch with you! (I’m not above bribery incentives! ;))

Download the free summer reading planning pages HERE or by clicking the image above!

I hope you found these ideas and resources to be helpful! Join The Reading Crew over the next few weeks for an entire month of literacy learning. There will be new blog posts shared each day so be sure to follow our hashtag #thereadingcrew on social media or check out our live calendar. The calendar will be edited each day to include clickable links as each blog post is published and made available. You may wish to bookmark it for easy access. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to receive updates about our upcoming blog events, too!

Happy Teaching!

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Getting Organized for Guided Reading

21 Aug

For teachers around the world, “Back to School” season is especially busy. Between getting READY for the school year (i.e., setting up classrooms, organizing resources & materials, getting lesson plans in order, etc.) and SURVIVING the first week of school (i.e., establishing classroom routines, getting to know your new students, keeping your sanity, etc.), it’s just… C.R.A.Z.Y.

To help manage the “crazy,” I decided to share a few of my “getting organized for guided reading” ideas and resources with you. Hopefully they can help you get started with small group instruction during the first few weeks!

Getting guided reading up and running shouldn’t be an overwhelming, painful task. Some teachers feel they can’t start their small group instruction until they have beginning-of-the-year data on every single student. For those classrooms, guided reading and small groups could be delayed for many weeks while assessments take over and pause instruction. My suggestion is to get started right away, if possible, and to use the spring data that you have. Yes, there may be some summer regression (or a lot, in some cases), but it gives you a starting point. You can always make adjustments as you collect up-to-date assessment data and get to know your students.

Grouping Your Students

Unless I have the past year’s anecdotal records or running records, I try to group the students initially by reading level. Later, I may change the groups to strategy groups or a combination of the two. It’s difficult to guess at which strategies your students will need until you have a chance to read with them or analyze past records.

Use a form like this one (bel0w) to help you map out groups. It’s a 2-page resource – one page is organized by colors and F&P levels, and the other page is completely blank so you can customize your own.

Guided Reading Grouping

You don’t need to meet in a group with every student, every day. Create a rotating schedule and try to stick to it. You could even consider implementing 1:1 conferences versus regular guided reading groups. Pick what works for you and what you can manage!

Picking Texts for the First Week

If you’re not sure what text-level to pick for your groups, and you don’t already have a text in mind, you should consider starting your first round of guided reading with a poem. Poetry is a fun way to kick-start reading instruction at the beginning of the year and allows students to show off what they can do! Plus, most students could use a little fluency practice after a few months out of the classroom. You could even use the same poem for every group but differentiate the instruction. As you observe student reading behavior within the small groups, start filling-out an informal skills assessment for each student (TeacherVision has a great printable form here). A skills assessment will allow you to start monitoring each student’s level of proficiency with different oral reading skills and comprehension strategies. It will also help you plan strategy lessons for students while you’re still collecting assessment data.

If you’re looking for a fun “Back to School” poem to use, check out the partner poem I shared in a blog post a few days ago. A few other options are listed below!

Back to School Poetry:

Independent Tasks for Students

We use Daily 5 in my building, which helps build-up stamina and independence in students. I love this structure because, once it’s up and running, it allows teachers to work with small groups without interruptions. Of course, a structure like this takes TIME to model and practice at the beginning of the year, so your small group instruction may need to be modified for the first week or so. If you are not familiar with Daily 5, consider activities like literacy centers, task cards, or independent choice boards for your students to complete while you meet with your small groups. You could even have them work on back-to-school writing pieces like Hello School Year, Goodbye Summer poems.

Collecting Anecdotal Notes During Guided Reading

A big part of guided reading, especially in the beginning, is collecting and organizing anecdotal notes and informal assessments. Find a system that works for you! Some teachers use clipboards. Some teachers use mailing labels. I use a big binder and create tabs within the binder for each student. This only works if you have a small group table where it can stay (it gets VERY heavy!). I record anecdotal notes for each student and collect running records, sight word lists, student samples, etc. Sometimes I will jot a quick note on a post-it and will later transfer it to the anecdotal page, or I will create a summary page of anecdotal post-it notes for each student.

Download a FREE packet of Anecdotal Notes Forms for Guided Reading:

AnecdotalNotesForm 8 8:18:2014

If you have access to an iPad, I’ve also used digital forms (Google Docs) or apps (e.g., Notability) that I can take type notes into. For the Google Doc form, once you submit notes for a student, it exports the data into a spreadsheet that you can sort, print, etc. I only used the iPads when I traveled around the classroom to the students (vs. them traveling to me) because the iPad was portable. In the end, I went back-and-forth between this and a sticky note system because I ended up typing WAY too slow. If you’re quick with the iPad keyboard, though, it’s a great way to organize anecdotal notes. (I blogged about how to do this last year! Check out the post here.)

Resources for Getting Started with Guided Reading

Are you looking for some professional resources to help you get started? Here are a few books that I’ve found to be a HUGE help in setting up guided reading in the classroom.


(Update 4/2017 — There is a new version available for teachers with actual videos of Jan Richardson teaching model lessons. Check them out: Next Step Guided Reading in Action K-2 and Next Step Guided Reading in Action 3-6. Also she came out with a Guided Reading companion book called The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. You can check out the book plus the companion guide below!)


Getting organized and ready to start small group instruction is only half the battle, but dedicating time to create a system that works for you helps with running a smooth reading program throughout the year. I hope these resources help you as you navigate the first few weeks of guided reading.

Do you have any suggestions for getting organized? Feel free to comment with any tips, suggestions, or resources YOU have for getting started with guided reading!

(NOTE: This blog post was originally part of the “Blasting Off to a Great Year” blog hop. Check out all the blog posts in the series by hopping back to the first stop at Reading Toward the Stars, or visit the next blog post in the series with This Little Piggy Reads.)

Happy Teaching! 

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