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Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers

Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers

by Jennifer SerravalloJennifer Serravallo
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For teachers who sometimes feel as if data-based instruction, differentiated groupings, and formative assessments somehow involve going over to The Dark Side, this book is a powerful antidote. It will help you know that you can hold tight to your deepest beliefs about children and literature, classrooms communities, and good teaching. Lucy Calkins
Author of Units of Study for Teaching Reading

In Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Jennifer Serravallo extends the powerful teaching that made Conferring with Readers a hit and helps you meet instructional challenges effectively and efficiently.

Jen shows how small groups help you uncover hidden time in your teaching for meeting individual students' needs. You'll work more closely with more children each day with her how-tos on:

  • using formative assessment to create groups of readers with common needs
  • differentiating for individuals, even when they're in a group
  • enhancing your Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction.

You'll see how Jen captures the strength of individual conference while working with multiple students-even if they aren't reading the same book. For comprehension, fluency, engagement, print work strategies, and comprehension, she shares ideas for assessment and flexible grouping structures as well as her own teaching language. You'll help readers:

  • get into texts and get more out of them
  • learn vital strategies that help them read more challenging texts
  • talk about books with rigor and vigor.

"When we supplement individual conferences with small-group conferences," writes Jennifer Serravallo, "we work more efficiently and can deal well with higher benchmarks, larger class sizes, and the increasing demands placed on readers and teachers." Trust a master teacher and read Teaching Reading in Small Groups to find out how small groups can make a big difference in your classroom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780325026800
Publisher: Heinemann
Publication date: 01/26/2010
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 605,749
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 6 - 11 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Serravallo is the author of New York Times' bestseller The Reading Strategies Book as well as other popular Heinemann professional books, The Writing Strategies Book; Teaching Reading in Small Groups; and The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, Grades K - 2 and Grades 3 - 6. Her newest titles are Teaching Writing in Small Groups (publishing March of 2021) and Connecting with Students Online, from which she will donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations serving children directly impacted by COVID-19. Her other recent books include Understanding Texts & Readers and A Teacher's Guide to Reading Conferences as well as the Spanish-language counterparts to her strategies books, El libro de estrategias de lectura and El libro de estrategias de escritura. Jen's Complete Comprehension: Fiction and Complete Comprehension: Nonfiction are assessment and teaching resources that expand upon the comprehension skill progressions from Understanding Texts & Readers and offer hundreds more strategies like those in The Reading Strategies Book. Additionally, Jen is the author of the On-Demand Courses Strategies in Action: Reading and Writing Methods and Content and Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Matching Methods to Purposes, where you can watch dozens of videos of Jen teaching in real classrooms and engage with other educators in a self-guided course. Jen is a member of Parents Magazine Board of Advisors for education and literacy. She began her career in education as a NYC public school teacher and later joined the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Through TCRWP, and now as an independent consultant, she has spent over a decade helping teachers across the country to create literacy classrooms where students are joyfully engaged and the instruction is meaningfully individualized to students' goals. Jen holds a BA from Vassar College and an MA from Teachers College, where she has also taught graduate and undergraduate classes. Learn more about Jen and her work at, on Twitter @jserravallo, on Instagram @jenniferserravallo, or by joining The Reading and Writing Strategies Facebook Community.

Table of Contents

Recommendations for Reading and Returning to This Book vi

Foreword Lucy Calkins ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 Beyond Reading Croups, Beyond Guided Reading 1

Small-Croup Instruction and The five Reading Tenets 5

The Last Word 14

2 Forming Croups: Making the Invisible Visible Through Assessment 15

Some Principles of Assessment 18

Assessing Engagement 20

Assessing Fluency 31

Assessing Print Work Strategies 38

Assessing Comprehension 43

Assessing Conversation 61

Preplanned Groups Versus Impromptu Groups 65

The Last Word 66

3 Without Engagement We've Got Nothing: Helping Children Want to Read 67

The Urgency of the Engagement Problem 70

Mentoring Headers into Developing a Reading Identity 71

Talking Up Books in Groups 79

Small Groups to Self-Monitor and Fix Up Disengagement 81

Self-Assigning Reading Goals for Purposeful Reading 85

Sign-Up Seminars to Energize Learners 93

The Last Word 95

4 Guided Practice Toward Independence: Strategy Lessons for Comprehension, Print Work, and Fluency 97

Why Strategy Lessons? 98

Strategy Lessons at a Glance: Structure 99

Explicit Strategies, Effective Demonstrations, Just-Right Prompts 109

Releasing Scaffolding over Time 117

The Last Word 120

5 Talking About Books: Improving Partnerships and Clubs 123

Supporting Book Cuba and Partnerships 124

Differentiated Partnership Work: Kindergarten to Second Grade 125

Read-Aloud Book Clubs: First Grade and Up 131

Chapter Introduction* for Clubs: Second Grade and Up 135

Teaching During Partnership and Club Talk 146

The Last Word 150

6 Reading with Fluency and Expression: Shared Reading, Warm-Up and Transfer Groups, and Performance Clubs 153

Shared Reading: Assessment-Based Support from Teachers and Peers 155

Warm-Up and Transfer Groups 163

Performance Clubs 167

The Last Word 171

7 Moving Readers to the Next Level; Text-Level Introduction Groups 173

What Is Adequate Progress? 175

Getting to Know Leveled Books 178

Getting to Know Your Readers Within a Level 186

Ten-Level Introduction Groups: An Alternative to Guided Reading 189

The Last Word 196

8 Organizing and Managing Small-Croup Conferring: Common Questions 198

Reading Workshop Basics 199

Visualizing the Room 206

Keeping Track 211

Scheduling Yourself 216

The Last Word 220

References 221

Children's literature 225

Index 227

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