When we began distance learning last spring, I will admit my first thought about teaching guided reading was, “This just isn’t possible right now.” However, I quickly adjusted my thinking and decided to problem solve to find the best ways to teach small groups online. I decided to write this blog post to help you find your own best ways to teach virtual guided reading while distance learning in kindergarten.
It can be so discouraging to feel like we can’t reach our students the same way we would during in person small groups. I get it!
That doesn’t mean all hope is lost, though.
Virtual guided reading groups allow you to meet with your students remotely and still differentiate instruction.
Make the Most of Your Time
It’s hard enough to fit everything into an in person guided reading lesson! Add in the challenge of being on a screen and decreased attention spans and WOO boy! It can be challenging!
Instead of trying to fit in everything, focus on the most important skill or skills you want your students to take away from your online small groups.
Some skills you might focus on during remote guided reading include:
- Reading fluency
- Phonics skills
- Phonological or phonemic awareness
- Concepts of print
- Sight words
- Guided writing
Choose the teaching point you want your students to take away and focus your lesson on that. You can always meet with your instructional small groups multiple days. Each day you can focus on a different skill.
For example, on Mondays we might read a digital guided reading book and focus on comprehension. I can then assign that book on a platform like Seesaw™ and ask students to record themselves reading independently. That way they get more practice with the text for fluency, but it isn’t taking up our small group time.
Then, on Wednesdays we might focus on phonemic awareness and word work. Finally, on Fridays we might focus on sight words and guided writing.
Use Digital Resources for Your Virtual Guided Reading Groups
There has been an explosion of digital guided reading resources, and that’s too your benefit! It has never been easier to find materials to teach small groups virtually.
Here are some of the Kindergarten distance learning resources and activities I use to teach online small groups.
Digital Guided Reading Books
When we first transitioned to online distance learning in kindergarten, teachers who owned my guided reading units asked if I could add the leveled guided reading books in a digital format.
Well, the answer to that was, of course, yes! The digital books are formatted for Google Slides™, but I can easily download the slides as a PDF and upload it right to Seesaw.™
Recently, I decided to start created leveled guided reading books in Boom Cards™ as well. I really like these books because students can complete them independently and each book will take them through comprehension and word word practice as well.
If you want to make the most of your print books, you can use a tablet as a document monitor and share your screen.
Digital Word Work Activities
With digital work work activities, you can use them to model for students, share your screen and complete together, or assign to students to complete as independent practice.
During your online small groups, I would do a mini lesson on the phonics skill and then share your screen and complete an activity together. Then, I would assign a similar activity for students to complete independently.
Again, teachers asked if I could make my the word work activities included in my guided reading units digital, and of course the answer was yes.
Multiple activities are included for each level that you can use together or assign to students. For example, for these sound boxes, I would share my screen and have students help me segment words and then choose the correct letters.
You could also send each student their own copy and then have them pull it up during your small group.
For independent practice, I assign activities from my Kindergarten Digital Literacy Centers.
I can easily choose an activity that covers that skill, make a copy of the slides I need, and assign to students. If you assign through Google Classroom™ or Seesaw™, you will also have evidence recorded for monitoring student growth and report cards.
Keep Students Engaged with Movement and Games
Keeping students engaged during virtual guided reading groups can be difficult! Especially when you’re stuck in front of a screen.
However, there are some simple things you can do to get students moving and keep them engaged in your online small groups.
- Play a game like thumbs up / thumbs down (for example, I say a word. If it rhymes, students put a thumbs up. If it doesn’t, students put a thumbs down.)
- Have students draw their answer on white boards (What happened at the beginning? Draw it on your board and hold it up)
- Use white boards for word work, sight word work, and guided writing. Students can write their answer and either hold it up or angle their screen down to show their board.
As you can see, teaching virtual guided reading small groups doesn’t have to be crazy complicated! Sometimes simple is best. To recap, my best tips for teaching online small groups are: make the most of your time by choosing one focus for the day, use digital guided reading resources, and incorporate movement and hands on activities as much as possible.
Do you have any more tips for teaching guided reading while distance learning in Kindergarten? Let us know down below!