Guided Reading: Using Every Minute

I’ve had teachers ask me, “How do you get all that instruction into 15 minutes?” And I tell them that every minute counts. It’s amazing what you can teach in one minute.

In one minute with your guided reading group you can accomplish one or more of these:

  • have a group seated at the table ready to learn
  • lead a quick phonemic awareness activity using boxes taped to the table
  • practice a speed drill
  • review sight word flashcards
  • time/test a student on fluency
  • listen to 6 students whisper read a page
  • have students build 2 words with a targeted skill with magnetic letters
  • have students write 3 sight words on the table
  • chorally read targeted sounds on a chart

There’s no time to waste, but it doesn’t mean I’m rushing through lesson like a mad woman. 

The lesson flows and students enjoy coming to the table to learn.

It flows because the lesson is well-planned, ready to go, organized, targeted to students’ needs and routine. There’s no time to search for materials or to have students take their time getting to the table. You might not like this next one, but here goes…

One thing I rarely do is play games at the guided reading table. 

I only have 15 minutes with each group, so I use those minutes as effectively as I can with instruction. I reserve literacy games for reading centers, and games are only a May Do when students are finished with their Must Do centers. 

(Interested in Must Do May Do? Get a FREE guide HERE.)

And students enjoy guided reading time because they are learning and they are proud!

Here are some strategies I do to use time effectively:

  • I have everything ready to just grab and go in bins.

  • I reward students with points for getting to the table within a minute, staying on task during the lessons, and working hard. If they have 5 or more points by the end of our time, they move their clips up! Note: points are only for positive behavior and time management, not for reading progress or ability.

  • I get their buy-in by regularly sharing with them how important our time together is.
  • I keep things routine so we transition from one activity to the next smoothly. (example: I always have a drill ready to go for each student even before they arrive at the table. They start without prompting from me because this is a routine and they love drills!)
See Speed Drills HERE
  • I keep teacher talk to a minimum.
  • I use a Must Do May Do system for centers and find I have fewer interruptions at the table. Read more about it HERE!
  • And once again…And this is just my choice…I rarely if ever play games at the guided reading table. I reserve the table for instruction. Games are played during May Do centers. This doesn’t mean that other teachers are doing it wrong. I just have found that my time is better spent on targeted instruction.

Check out more blog posts to give you some ideas on using time wisely: 

7 Ways to Squeeze More Into Your Literacy Block

4 Guided Reading Must-Dos.
6 Guided Reading Tips that Work!

Thanks for stopping by!

1st Grade Pandamania

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I am a newly retired first-grade teacher in the beautiful state of Colorado. I taught for 32 years (17 of those in 1st grade.) Watching my students learn and grow was such a blessing for me, and I'm excited to share what I've learned over the years with you. Read More

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