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What Are You Grouping For?, Grades 3-8

What Are You Grouping For?, Grades 3-8
How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers - Not the Book

Foreword by Mary Howard

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November 2018 | 352 pages | Corwin

Bring out daring readers with dynamic small groups!

Like many educators in intermediate classrooms across the country, you may be using guided reading principles to teach reading. Whether you’re following targeted reading levels or sticking with your school’s established routines, chances are that guided reading has become synonymous with small group reading for you and your students. But . . . are your students getting the most out of small groups? Are readers of all ability levels experiencing the dynamic learning that can occur in small groups? Do you feel confident that the way you’re grouping kids is based on their wants and needs?

Intermediate grade readers don’t need to be guided as much as they need to be engaged—and authors Julie Wright and Barry Hoonan have solutions for doing just that using small groups. What Are You Grouping For? offers the practical tools, classroom examples, and actionable steps essential for starting, sustaining, and mastering the management of small groups. This book explains the five teacher moves that work together to support students’ reading independence through small group learning—kidwatching, pivoting, assessing, curating, and planning—and provides examples to guide you and your students toward success. 

From must-have beginning-of-the-year strategies to step-by-step advice for implementation, this guide breaks down the processes that support small groups and help create effective instructional reading programs. Based on more than 45 years of combined experience in the classroom, this resource will empower you with tools to ensure that your readers are doing the reading, thinking, and doing—not you

Foreword by Mary Howard
CHAPTER 1. A New Way of Thinking About Small Group Learning Experiences (because being up close to students is what drives discovery)
Small Group Instruction Redefined

The Five Teacher Moves

Combating the Challenges So You Can Do the Five Moves

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 2. The Launch (because who doesn’t need beginning-of-the-year strategies)
Small Groups Defined

Two Essential Questions This Chapter Helps You Answer


Ideas for the First Days of School

Listening In and Joining In

A Few Weeks Into the School Year

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 3. Scheduling (because schedules are key for the launch and beyond)
Reading Workshop: Daily Plans for Groups

Getting Started, Quick Groups

Groups for First Days/Weeks of School

Groups That Might Meet Across the Year

Small Group Foundational Q&A

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 4. Kidwatching 2.0 (because it’s all about orient, notice, take stock, and inquire)
Two Essential Questions This Chapter Helps You Answer


Our Kidwatching 2.0 Protocol

Tips for Getting Started

Using Your Notes to Form Small Groups

Four-Step Process for Going From Kidwatching to Small Group

Example of Small Group Work Based on Kidwatching Data

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 5. Pivoting Into Flexible Groups (because it’s the teacher moves that keep readers moving forward)
Two Essential Questions This Chapter Helps You Answer


How This Chapter Is Organized

The List of Reasons for Pivoting

The Teacher’s Role

Types of Groups to Pivot Into and Out Of

Timing Is Everything: More About the Duration of Groups

Language for Joining In


One Last Thing

CHAPTER 6. Assessing Student Work (because looking at our readers’ work lifts their strategies, skills, and thinking)
Two Essential Questions This Chapter Helps You Answer


Assessing With Learner-Centered Benchmarks

What to Look At

How to Sort Student Work

Planning a Focus for Instruction and Putting It Into Action

More Examples of How to Use Work to Inform Grouping Decisions

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 7. Curating (because selecting the right texts inspires readers to be connoisseurs)
Two Essential Questions This Chapter Helps You Answer


Teachers and Students as Curators

Teachers as Curators

Steps for Curating

Zooming In on Step 2: Curate and Select

Zooming In on Step 3: Decide

Steps 4–7: Spark, Read and Construct Meaning, and Reflect

Students as Curators

Exemplars of Students as Curators

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 8. Unit Planning (because small groups are best anchored in a harbor of big ideas)
Two Essential Questions Chapters Eight and Nine Help You Answer


Planning: The Reality Show

Six Surefire Steps

One Last Thing

CHAPTER 9. Weekly and Daily Planning (because weekly and daily plans chart the course for small group experiences)
Creating a Calendar for Weekly and Daily Lesson Planning

Zooming In on Step 5: Make Plans for Small Group Learning Opportunities

Some Popular, Proven Models to Guide You

Barry’s Planning Process for Hosting Two Groups

Julie’s One-Week Plan of Lessons for Launching a Unit

Student-Driven Planning

Putting It Into Practice: Examples From Our Classrooms

One Last Thing

Appendix: Ready-to-Copy Teacher and Student Reflection/Planning Pages
References and Further Reading
About the Authors


“ Julie Wright and Barry Hoonan have hit the ‘sweet spot’ of helping each student become exquisite readers. Through authentic classroom examples, they demonstrate how small groups are the fulcrum between one-to-one instruction and whole group instruction. This book is a gift to educators desiring to create voluminous readers!”

Michael Nelson
Enunclaw School District, Enumclaw, WA

“ Julie Wright and Barry Hoonan take us on an adventure, redefining small group instruction and broadening our vision of what it can look like when we carefully plan and then step aside and take note of student interactions. With ‘five teacher moves,’ Julie and Barry talk us through meaningful strategies for employing a variety of fluid and flexible small group instruction and work where students ‘think about and appreciate texts.’ Julie and Barry share ideas for getting started, as well as specific examples of small groups that will inspire students all year. This book is for every teacher who strives to create meaningful small group instruction and work in their classrooms.”

Megan Sloan
Author of Into Writing: The Primary Teacher’s Guide to Writing Workshop

“ What Are You Grouping For? is a must-have resource. Julie Wright and Barry Hoonan give practical strategies followed with examples from the classroom for supporting students’ reading independence through small groups. This book incorporates the importance of building relationships and knowing your students to gain maximum impact in the classroom. The book leaves the reader motivated and inspired to get started tomorrow!”

Amber Reed
Albia Community School District

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ISBN: 9781544324128