Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About a Reading Group Tool Kit

For today's "You Oughta Know..." blog hop, I decided to write about a tool kit I've been using with my reading groups.  You would think that I'd have figured this out earlier.  Such a simple solution to a complex problem!

The problem: keeping my students engaged during reading groups. I'm not even talking about the rest of the class (I use work stations to keep them engaged).  I'm talking about the four kids who have to sit and listen while one student reads a page orally.

The solution: I created a reading group tool kit with things I had around the classroom. Suddenly,  my students are engaged, even when they are not the one reading orally.

The Tool Kit:

  • transparent discs
  • craft sticks and googly eyes
  • dry erase markers and clear transparency film
  • rubber bands

Here's a quick over view of how I use the tools:
  • Transparent Discs (the kind we used to use with overhead projectors): Have students pre-read the text. They mark words according to your directions. In this reading, I had students mark all the words they knew by sight.  Sometimes, I have them mark specific word patterns or sight words. On other days, I'll have them color code words (i.e. they mark sight words red and phonetic patterns blue).  The advantage is that I can quickly assess what as student thinks they know so I can focus their attention on decoding strategies.
  • Craft Sticks + Googly Eyes = Tracking Stick (to help you keep your eye on the words...): Glue a googly eye to the end of the craft stick.  Have students use the tracking stick while other students are reading the text. Again, it provides me with a quick assessment of who is actually tracking while another student reads orally.  

  • Dry Erase Markers + Clear Transparency Film  (I'll upload a photo when we use this tool next week): Have the students pre-read the text for decoding. Have them each place a piece of transparency film over the page, and mark the page (per your directions) with the dry erase marker. Example...mark the words with a specific cvc pattern, or circle the punctuation mark that shows excitement. Again, you've got a quick visual assessment of what they students can do.
  • Rubber Bands: We use lots of terms when reminding kids to use a variety of strategies.  "Tap it," "Chunk it," "Stretch it..." The rubber band provides a visual and kinesthetic tool to stretch words out to hear the sounds. They love it! (So far, no one has shot a rubber band at someone else!)
What tools do you have in your reading tool kit?


  1. I teach 5th graders, so post-it notes are a must for my reading tool kits! I've also used Halloween witch fingers as pointers. Highlighters and colored pencils are in my kit, but we only use them on printable books. I love the transparency paper idea!

    1. I also love the Halloween witch fingers...spiders too!

  2. Great list of ideas! I really like the eye on a stick.

    The Math Maniac

    1. It's super easy! The first time, I used glue sticks and the eyes have stayed on. When I made more, I used Elmer's and the popped off pretty quickly.

  3. I love the sticks with the googly eyes! I have witches' fingers that my kiddos use. They love them!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  4. Thanks for the "reminders" of simpler times...I love technology, but have so many cute little gadgets for reading groups that I forget about! I love using the clear circle discs. I haven't used them for that purpose before.

    Friendly Froggies

    1. I especially loved that I didn't have to buy anything!

  5. All of your ideas are so great! I'm always looking for reading strategies or ideas for the classroom. I really love the googly-eyed popsicle sticks to help students track their reading. I'm definitely making those!

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

    1. Thanks for another great blog hop, Jasmine! So many great ideas out there!

  6. Cute blog and great idea. I started following you on bloglovin. Teaching Science With Lynda

  7. I'm always looking for ways to improve my Daily 5 routine. Thanks for sharing these fun tools.

  8. What a fun and inexpensive way for reading trackers!

    A LoveLi Class