5 Quick Things to Do After Reading Together in a Small Group

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This just my opinion, but I think AFTER reading together in a small group is when the hard stuff happens. When we are doing pre-reading or during reading activities we naturally support our students. After reading though, we expect our students to go straight into independent work. We go from a high level of support to no support. In my mind, we have to find a way to balance this, so the students are supported at all times.

Four Corners

I like four corners because most teachers are familiar with this game and it is easily adaptable. I would suggest having corners that say agree, disagree, strongly agree, and strongly disagree.

Start off by reading a sentence about your passage. After hearing the sentence your students will pick whether they agree, disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree. Students can then have a discussion with the people in their corner.

A lot of times, we throw students straight into answering open-ended questions. I love these discussions because they can help students support their own answers in writing later.

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Story Pyramid

My students love this activity because they think they are getting out of writing lengthy responses. This story pyramid starts with a one-word answer at the top, followed by a two-word answer, a three-word answer, and so on. Eventually, students will have an eight word answer that describes how the problem was solved in the story.

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Use a T-Chart

I prefer to use T-Charts when comparing information about multiple characters or from multiple texts. I think it gives students more of a purpose and a way to organize information.

Then, when it is time to answer multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, or begin responding to writing prompts, they have information to fuel their responses.

Visualizing Around the World

After reading together in a small group, you might want to discuss the setting of the story. It is often difficult for our students to visualize where a story took place.

If you are familiar with Around the World or other similar games, this will sound very familiar to you. Your students will take turns telling of things that they “saw” while reading the story. The trick to winning is that you must remember the previous players’ responses.

  • Student 1: When we read this story, we saw sand.
  • Student 2: When we read this story, we saw sand and a beach chair.
  • Student 3: When we read this story, we saw sand, a beach chair, and a bottle of sun screen.
  • Student 4: When we read this story, we saw sand, a beach chair, a bottle of sun screen, and the sun.

Students must think of things that they would see within the setting of your story.

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Story Card

Begin by giving your students a 3×5 cards. I like the cards that are blank on both sides.

On one side of the card, I have the students draw a picture from the story. On the other side, we write about the passage. You can adapt this part of the activity to fit the age or writing ability of your students. Maybe they are writing words, phrases, or sentences from or about the story.

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Quick Activities to Do When Reading Together in a Small Group

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The purpose of activities DURING reading is is monitor understand. You can do this in a variety of ways. These quick activities to do when reading together in a small group are perfect for helping students monitor their understanding while reading.

Image of Primary Gal's Reading Series Book Yellow on a Desk with a Pencil and a Piece of Paper that has the Support Statement "Sloths eat plants and other animals" for one of the Quick Activities to Do When Reading Together in a Small Group

Support My Statement

This is one of my FAVORITE quick activities to do when reading together in a small group because you can use it for so many different reading strategies. First, decide on a statement and share it with your students. As you read, it is their job to find sentences that support your statement.

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Character Maps

Character Maps are a great way to give students a purpose while reading. As they read, students will be searching for words, phrases, or sentences to describe a character or a specific characteristic.

Image of a Page Titled 30 Freaky Facts about Weather, a Pencil, and a 3-2-1 Chart for one of the quick activities to do when reading together in a small group.

3-2-1 Chart

This simple printable is easy for students to do! As they write:

  • 3 Things They Discovered
  • 2 Interesting Facts
  • 1 Question

For younger students, this can be done orally by assigning each student one part from the 3-2-1 chart to focus on.

Image of Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series with a Pen and a Post-It Note. On the Post-It Note it says Why do you think they would make it to a new place?

Stop & React

While reading, it is important to stop and react. The reasons for which you stop could be anything from stopping to make a prediction, re-reading, summarizing, or simply looking up or discussing the meaning of a word.

Depending on the text or the ability of my group, I might use a Post-It Note to plan when I’ll stop and what I’ll ask them.

Image of a student holding a marker in one hand and holding up three fingers with the other hand while reading Is Mold Bad? From the Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series

Think of Three

Think of three is something I use all. the. time. I love it because it can tie right into so many other reading strategies that we might be practicing.

As I read the passage, my students are looking for the three things. What they are looking for will vary depending on what strategy we are working on at that moment. They may be looking for details to support the main idea or sentences that tell how a character was feeling. As they find important sentences, they stick up a finger and then underline it in their book.

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Quick Activities to Do Before Reading

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There are different ways to set your students up for success before you even begin reading. The main mission before reading is to build background knowledge and give students a purpose for reading.

Below, you’ll five five quick activities to do before reading to set a good foundation for your students.

Image of Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series Background Knowledge for quick activities to do before reading

Background Bubbles

Background bubbles help you determine what students know about a topic. Begin by developing a few words that are related to the topic. In this passage, students will be reading about four illnesses. Before diving in, I took time to discuss what my students already knew about the flu, a cold, strep throat, and impetigo.

In the empty bubbles, you or your students could add other related words. What else might need added? Hand washing? COVID-19? Social Distance? Vaccinations? There are so many options, and all of them help you narrow and access background knowledge.

After reading, I like to come back to these words. What did we learn? What was confirmed about what we already knew? I like to make my own on chart paper so we can really brainstorm more words and have the room to jot them down. I have a blog post with this activity. You can read it by clicking here.

Image of Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series with a List of Words, a Marker, and a Permanent Marker

Exclusion Brainstorming

Exclusion Brainstorming is similar to our Brainstorming Bubbles. I make a list of words that helps start a discussion and access students’ background knowledge on a given topic. Some of the words are related to the topic while others are not.

Before reading, go through these words with your students and determine which words are related to the topic of the story. If the word is not related, then put an x through the word. You can also circle the words that are related.

Image of Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series with Four Asking Questions Dice with the Words What? Why? When? Who? for a Quick Activities to do Before Reading

Asking Questions Dice

I like to begin by reading a brief introduction about a topic. Then, it’s time to get out the dice! For my students, they were struggling to form questions. They often gave statements related to the topic.

A fellow SPED teacher recommended these dice. They roll the dice and read the question word. Then, we work together to use that word at the beginning of the sentence.

Image of Book Talking about Dogs

Picture Walk

Depending on what you are reading, you may have a lot of pictures or only a few. Regardless of the number of pictures, take a look at them. Ask questions with your students and begin a discussion before even reading the text.

If you do not have pictures, taking a text walk can be just as valuable. You can take time to look at the text, titles, captions, or charts to see what you you might notice.

Image of Primary Gal's Resource Room Reading Series with a Character Trait Search, a Pencil, and Two Markers used for one of the 5 quick activities to do before reading

Character Trait Search

One of my favorite quick activities to do before reading stories with more than one main character is a character trait search . As you are prepping ahead of time, write the name of the characters on a chart. Then, list a few characteristics that might describe the characters in the story.

Before you begin reading with your students, you may need to discuss character traits that you listed. What do they mean? Then, as you are reading, students can look for examples of those terms. What did the character do to be lazy, selfish, dedicated, or honest.

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How to Help Improve Comprehension in Fluent Readers

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Have you ever had a student who reads so beautifully, but then struggles to comprehend what they’ve read? I spent the first few years of teaching wondering how to help them. They could read the text. Why couldn’t they understand it?! I struggled with how to improve comprehension in fluent readers.

With a few years of experience, a little bit of research, and a whole lot of trial and error, I figured out why those students could read so fluently but lacked comprehension. There are four potential things that could be impacting their comprehension.

They Lack Reading Strategies

Fluent readers have a good foundation of skills, but they are missing reading strategies to help them understand difficult text.

As teachers we need to take a step back and realize some reading strategies do not come naturally to all of our students. It is our job to facilitate an environment where our students are helped and supported so they can practice those strategies.

They Lack Background Knowledge

Without background knowledge, our students are reading a text without a good foundation for consuming the information. It is our job to help them build background knowledge prior to reading. We can do this by showing a video, a picture, sharing a story, or finding other ways to help them process the information they are about to read. This is one of the simplest ways to help improve comprehension in fluent readers.

They Are Unable to Organizing Their Thinking

Organization may sound like something that doesn’t factor into reading comprehension. Actually, it plays a BIG role. Difficulty with organization might look differently in each student.

There are two main ways that students need to organize information:

  • Organizing information as it comes INTO your brain.
  • Seeing the organization within a text that is presented to them.

Students who have difficulty with executive functioning skills will have lower comprehension than their peers who are better able to organize and see organization while reading.

They Lack Purpose

For students with disabilities, they need a purpose when reading. By giving students a purpose, they have a single focus or job while reading. What question are they trying to answer? What reading strategy are they focusing on? Giving them something to dial in on while reading helps them know where to focus their brain power.

Think Time

I LOVE think time! It is a great way to practice strategies, give students a purpose, and make students slow down and think.

Here’s How It Works:

  1. Before reading, tell your students what strategy they’ll be working on while reading a passage. (Such as making a prediction)
  2. While reading, point out or stop and reflect on pieces of the text that might help them with their purpose.
  3. After reading, restate what you want your students to tell you.
  4. Set a one minute timer. Students CANNOT speak during think time. They don’t raise their hand. They don’t say, “I’m done!” They spend one minute looking back at the text and thinking about their answer.
  5. Students share their thoughts. Sometimes, we talk to a partner first. Other times, we take turns sharing in our small group.

I love this time because it causes students to slow down and think. It also gives them time to process information, look back, and form an answer.

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Reading Skills & Strategies: What is the difference?

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Reading skills & strategies are two words that are often used interchangeably. And I’ll admit, I’ve totally used the two words incorrectly on more than one occasion.

Every textbook company, every book that you read, every list that you may have Googled will have a different list of reading skills and strategies. I kept thinking, “Why is there not a big momma list of the skills and strategies that you need to know to be able to be a good reader?”

Well, here’s the answer: Every reader and every text requires different skills and strategies.

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What are Reading Strategies?

Reading Strategies are actions a reader should do to figure out the text or to remember a text. We use reading strategies for texts that are difficult for us.

Over time, strategies become skills. Think back to when you first began reading. When you didn’t know a word automatically, what did you do? You probably tried to stretch it out. That was a strategy for figuring out an unknown word. In time, you memorized words and no longer relied so heavily on that strategy.

What are Reading Skills?

Reading skills are things that you are proficient in and can do automatically. People have all kinds of skills, like playing an instrument, running, or cooking. Overtime, you can become skilled in a particular area.

When you first begin one of these activities, you aren’t an expert. You learn and grow. Reading skills work in the same way. Using strategies, we can later become skilled readers.

Clear as Mud, Right?

Do you see why the language between skills and strategies can be confusing? After learning the true difference, I see why some textbooks might call something a skill versus a strategy. Depending on the grade level of the curriculum, it could also cause the terminology to be difference.

The most important thing is to model and practice various strategies. For many of our struggling readers, they need help knowing WHAT to do before, during, or after reading. We can help!

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