Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tips for Small Group Organization: Bright Ideas Link Up!

Hello friends! I'm so excited to be a part of this month's Bright Ideas Link Up!
Today I'm sharing some organizational tips for your small group reading area. 

I don't know about you, but small group instruction is SUPER important to me! My small group table is the area in my room that I spend the most time at during the day.  I strongly believe that small group instruction is the secret to success when it comes to student learning. With that statement, comes a huge responsibility to make sure I am maximizing the time I have with my small groups. To do that, organization is KEY.  My goal for small group organization is to eliminate any and all wasted time.  There are a few vital parts of my small group area that help me do this. 

#1. Set the stage.
You want your students to LOVE coming back to the small group table, so it's important to make it a cheerful and inviting place to learn! A lamp can set a very comfy and inviting tone to your small group area.

#2 If possible, place your small group table next to a whiteboard in order to display student thoughts and ideas, word work lists, and student thinking.  You can also use my magnetic shower rod idea to display anchor charts you create or refer to with your small groups. 

#3 Color code your guided reading groups. Keep folders, book bins, and baskets for your guided reading books in the same color as each group to make organization easy and quick!

#4 Use two baskets for each group. In the first basket, keep new guided reading books or the books you plan on introducing for the week.  After the group is finished with the books during small group time, place them in the second basket, or the Fluency Basket.  I train my students to grab the fluency basket for their group as soon as they get to the reading table.  They immediately grab a book from the Fluency Basket and start reading. These are all books we've already read together. They are familiar books my students can read to "warm up" while I do a running record on a child.

#5 Have a designated place for students to return reading material you give them to practice. I will often give my students copies of articles, magazines, or special books to put in their book bins to practice.  These are often not a part of the library that my students book shop from during the week, so a designated return basket makes it easy to collect these special materials.

#6 Keep a filing bin with a folder for each small group you meet with. Put unfinished or "in progress" work from your group time in the folder instead of telling kids to "bring it back to the table tomorrow." This eliminates the risk of your students losing their copy or wasting time finding it the following day.  Keep a file folder of generic reading graphic organizers in your filing bin. You never know when you may need them during a "teachable moment."

#7 Keep sharpened pencils and dry erase markers/erasers on hand. If students bring their own back to the table and spend 1 minute each day retrieving their supplies for small group, that is 5 minutes of wasted time each week.  Over the course of a month, each group has wasted about 20 minutes of instructional time! Keeping materials at your fingertips for students maximizes the time we get to use to teach. :)

#8 Keep crayons, scissors, and glue sticks on hand for interactive notebooks and close reads. Keep Post It note pads in a nearby bin to record student thinking. Set the stage for comprehension by asking a question before you start reading the book. Students will jot their answer down on their Post It Note while they are reading. Use binder clips to organize your sight word cards. 

#9 Take extra time to strategically set up your small group space in order to SAVE time during instruction. :)

#10 Have fun organizing!

If you enjoyed this Bright Idea post, please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more great ideas!

Over 100 awesome bloggers have linked up this month to bring you more Bright Ideas! Please browse through the link up below and choose a topic and/or grade level that interests you! :)


  1. Christina, love the two storage bin per group tip! Thanks for sharing.

    Mrs, Rios Teaches Second Grade

  2. I always love getting new tips on how to be organized!! I definitely need to get on it with my guided reading organization area :) Thank you!! Also-I have the same borders around my white board ;)

    Teaching in Paradise

  3. I love those colorful stools!!! You did a great job making your room inviting!

    Jennifer from Simply Kinder

  4. These are some fantastic tips! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  5. Those are some great tips! I love the idea of a fluency basket....I will be stealing that idea.

    Terri Izatt

  6. Thanks for the tip on the two baskets - I really like the idea of having a fluency basket!!

  7. This is great! I wish you could come and help me get organized!!

  8. Love this post! I love the fluency bin you have for your reading groups. So simple to keep fresh when it's right there. Great ideas my friend!!!

    First Grade Smiles

  9. Such a great post! I try to make the most of my small group time and this will definitely help!

  10. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I absolutely love this!! I have all of my materials, and I can get to them, but I need to organize them better, maximizing instruction!! I love it!!

    The Daily Alphabet

  12. What size baskets do you use for your fluency baskets? I LOVE that idea!

  13. This is a fabulous help! It is not overwhelming and each idea is easy to replicate and to understand the use. Thank you.

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  16. where did you get these stools, I love the colors