One of my favorite parts about teaching 5th grade was the fact that I could finally read some of my favorite novels with my guided reading groups! However, I found that a lot of the resources and information out there for guided reading centers were geared towards the lower elementary grades. I had to do a lot of my own trial-and-error to figure out what worked for my students, and to really perfect guided reading centers in 5th grade. Below are some of the things that worked best for my upper elementary students during the guided reading block:
I broke my guided reading hour into three 20-minute centers.
While most ‘models’ suggest seeing four groups per day, I would see three out of my four groups each day. This is what worked best for me and my students. The two groups with more struggling readers would see me every day, and the two groups with more independent readers would alternate days. Obviously, I didn’t let them know those distinctions! When groups were not with me, they were doing one of the following centers:
-Library time (once per week)
-Reading pages of their book that I had assigned at their last meeting with me (they always had pages to read before next meeting)
-Reading from their own choice book
-Working on a literacy activity that aligned with our social studies or science unit (more on this later!)
I Stuck with Chapter Books…for ALL Groups.
We used to have a whole closet full of those little readers that were labeled for a 5th grade level, but the kids HATED them. If they hate what they’re reading, their engagement will be zero. Choose chapter books. You can get through them quicker than you think – most of my guided reading groups read 5-6 during the school year. They read and discuss with you, and then one of their centers was reading pages that I had assigned at the end of their meeting with me.
Bring social studies and science into your guided reading block
My students and I absolutely loved bringing science and social studies into our guided reading block! I would do this in a few ways:
-Students would fill out a vocabulary journal, writing the vocabulary words and definitions that we covered in science or social studies that day
-Pre-reading the next science or social studies lesson
Guided Reading time does not have to be complicated, and it doesn’t need to be filled with endless worksheets. Students should spend time with you, time reading on their own, and time working on an independent activity. Keep it simple, and keep it CONSISTENT! You don’t want to do something different each week, because that will lead to confusion and a lack of focus during that time! Below are some of the social studies reading comprehension activities that I like to use with my students.