1. Witch's fingers (so not just for Halloween). I usually bust these out at Halloween each year and give each of my kids one to read with that day. However, I also keep a stash for myself to use in guided reading group. Now lets be clear, I do not generally endorse monitoring reading anymore with the finger at a second grade level. But, they work so well for those kids that chop endings and don't monitor words well still all the way through. Those crazy long red nails just work wonders! Try it!
2. I got this next magical little idea from a class I took through our district based on Tanny McGregor's "Comprehension Connections". If you have never seen any of her stuff, I would highly recommend it. Her ideas are so engaging and innovative!
One of the very first lessons focuses on metacognition and how to be a "real" reader. The focus is on teaching the kids that in order to be "real" readers they have to be thinking while they are reading. In the book she suggests going to a paint or hardware store and picking up paint strips in order to make these adorable metacognition strips to help the students with monitoring their comprehension and thinking while they are reading.
I ended up having to cut up a few paint strips to put these together. But they were super simple to make- and free! The three sections represent the kids possible levels of understanding. I have my students start with their fingers on white when we begin reading. When the students are on white it signals that "Everything is clear! (¡Todo esta bien claro!)" and they are understanding well what they are reading. If the student begins to get hung up they may move their finger as they read to grey, "It's a little cloudy. (Esta un poquito nublado.)", or if they are really lost to black, "I'm in the dark! (¡Estoy en la oscuridad!)". We discuss in group different strategies we could use if we notice ourselves moving into grey or black to move back into the white zone. My students can also use these during their independent reading time to help ensure they are selecting a "good fit" book. We discuss how not only do we have to be able to read the words, but also understand them. If they find themselves moving to black on their strips, they they probably need to select a better fit book for their level. It is a great self-monitoring tool, and helpful as a quick assessment for me too. If I notice one of the kids move their finger to grey during our group, I can check in with them to see what strategies they are using to get those clouds outta there!
3. Stop and Use a Post-it!
I must go through a million post-its each year. They are so versatile! While, I do indeed use them while doing my actual guided reading groups for a variety of things, this purpose for them I am about to share involves all of those students who are supposed to be busily doing centers while I am doing my guided reading groups!
You will see my lovely stop sign above. I use this to remind my students that unless there is "blood or flood", they cannot interrupt this special time for their peers! They are pretty good anymore, but if there is even an attempt at a minor interruption- I just look (with those crazy teacher eyes) at my beloved sign.
However, I do know that sometimes issues come up in centers. The mini-stapler is out of staples again, more writing paper is needed, something needs fixing, etc., and I do want to know about these day-to-day issues! -------> Post-its to the rescue! I simply leave a pad of post-its on my desk and my students know they can walk over there and jot down a quick note for me about the issue and I will get to it as soon as I can. I love this for two reasons- 1. They feel that their voice was heard. 2. Now I have a note reminding me what I have to do.
What are some of your guided reading "gotta have ems"? I would love to add some to my list!