Guided Reading and Small Groups in Middle School PART I

As someone who is always looking for ways to integrate best elementary teaching practice into my upper grade/middle school classroom, I wanted to share how my small group routine has evolved as I have learned how to be a middle school teacher.

I'm just going to jump right in because I am a master rambler :).

My ELA Routine (Twice a Day)

10 min: ELA Bell Ringer
30 min: Collections (my ELA curriculum) Lesson
20 min: Round 1 (small group and Daily 5)
25 min: Novel Lesson- Reading (10 min), Socratic Seminar (7 min), Reading Response (8 min). 
20 min: Round 2 (small group and Daily 5)

After we do our ELA Bell Ringer and our Collections lesson, I do my first round of groups. It took A LOT of trial-and-error, A LOT of re-organization, and A LOT of flexibility on my part, but after playing around with some stuff, this was the schedule I came up with. I have two 6th grade ELA classes. 

Intervention Schedules 

How often I meet with groups

I wanted to meet with my intensive groups at least two times a week, and I typically get to meet with them three times a week, because of our intervention block. This can change if I need to do assessments or work with other students at this time. 

My proficient group meets with me about two times a week. In general, this is perfect. Sometimes, by proficient friends need more help that week, and I just pull them to an intervention group or during Super Stallion time. 

My enrichment groups only meet with me on Fridays. I used to feel guilty about this, but it's perfect. They love that Friday's are devoted to them (sometimes, these kids, who get the least of my attention, just love to talk to me during this time). We get through as much as the other groups in just one session and most of them can multi-task (i.e. talk to me or talk to each other, and work at the same time). It really works out perfect. 

Literature Circles
I used to meet with literature circles every day to check in, but quickly realized that most of my middle schoolers don't need me for this (and for the ones that do, I just check in with them and support them during my small group time with them). ALL literature circle groups meet to discuss, check homework, and prepare for the week ahead on Thursdays. I just walk around, grade, and give support as necessary. 

What do the colors mean? 

I started to really get in a groove with this, but was SERIOUSLY struggling with the organization of the supplies. I had stuff in drawers, then bins, then file cabinets and it just wasn't working because of the "Mixed Groups" section, and I would often move kids around for a variety of reasons. We have a 30-minute intervention block at the end of the day where I had kids from different groups and I could never find their individual supplies. 

I realized I needed them to be able to get their own stuff (duh!). Anyway, I decided to color code the groups, tell them their color, and then when I met with them they were in charge of getting their stuff. 

I went to Wal-Mart, bought these bins, and then color coded them as well. 

Now when I meet with a group, they just get their bin. When I meet with mixed groups, they just get their supplies out of their bin. Easy! 

What do we do in these groups? 

In primary grades, I have found that they use Guided Reading to work on reading skills through shorter stories. It's taken me awhile to figure out how to implement this in 6th grade, but now I love my small group time. We use the following resources to work on a ton of different skills. 

Collections Close Readers: These came with my curriculum and I seriously love them. They are tough, so I mostly use these with my enrichment groups, but we use them in my other groups as well, if the passage isn't too long. 

YoungTeacherLove's Close Reading Passages: These are great for all groups as well because they are engaging, tough, and dig deep into each and every standard. She has sets for all different times of the year. Click on the picture to check them out in her TPT store.  

Teaching and Tapas Close Reading Passages: I love these for my intensive groups. Again, her passages are engaging, pretty rigorous, and also work on a variety of standards:

Life in Fifth Grade Text Based Evidence Posters and Charts: It's not a secret that Text Based Evidence is basically EVERYTHING. We work on this ALL.THE.TIME and my students reference these posters in our groups and during whole group instruction. 

These posters are right behind my small group table and they are a freebie in her store. Click the picture to download them. 

The Creative Apple's Chart and Text Based Evidence was my inspiration for the chart paper. I use her Text Based Evidence Resource for my middle and intervention groups to keep working on this skill every chance I get. It's VERY scaffolded for teachers and students alike and is perfect for groups that need lots of support. Click on the image to check it out. 

Life in Fifth Grade's Close Reading Tool Kits:  Again, these are especially for my intervention groups. Nothing gets sixth graders excited to meet with their ELA teacher 3-4 times a week like highlighters, bookmarks, and colored strategy cards. 

I only made a few of them and they hang out in a bin behind my desk. Not super organized :), but everything I need is there when I need it. 

Data Collection and Small Group Notes.

These are the forms I use while I am meeting with my groups. I am honestly always changing the forms, but these are the two I use most frequently and consistently. 

Click on the images below to get this FREEBIE in my TPT store. 

What are the rest of the students doing? 


  1. Great post! You are super organized and I love how you've planned your workshop!!

    Wild About Fifth

  2. Thank you so much! I wish I could say the rest of my life was organized ha!

    Thanks again!


  3. Gosh I love all of this so much!! I've come back and read this several times to get myself motivated!!

    1. Muah! Thanks! All my motivation is gone after this haha! It took all my energy to do this series ;).

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