Teaching Word Work In Small Groups {Grades 3-5}

Today, a Work on Words topic that I am extremely passionate about... Small Groups!
The question I have been asked the most over the years by other teachers is, "How do you find the time to differentiate Word Work for your students and still teach everything else?"  Short answer - I use the time I am already meeting with them in Guided Reading groups.
Do your students in grades 3-5 need to work on words? Definitely! Click through to this blog post about how I teach and manage word work in my reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

(For a post about my Guided Reading guide and a freebie, check here, then come back!)

Here's a peek at the way I structure my Guided Reading time with struggling readers (30 minutes, at least 4 times per week):
5 minutes - Fluency and/or Book Conferences
10 minutes - Word Work
15 minutes - Guided Reading (Before/During/After strategies included)

Note: This is how I structure my time with Struggling Readers.  In my classroom, fair doesn't mean equal, and I am going to work with students on what they need.

Here's the structure for Guided Reading with on-level or above-level readers (20 minutes, 2 times per week):
3 minutes - Book Conferences
7 minutes - Word Work
10 minutes - Guided Reading (B/D/A strategies, with short sections of the selected text - assignments given for next time we meet)

During that designated Word Work time, work with the group on whatever they need.  (For help identifying the needs in your students, you may want to read my blog series about Supporting Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5.)

Let the needs of your students dictate the material you cover during this short, focused Word Work lesson.  Some suggestions for struggling readers:

Do your students in grades 3-5 need to work on words? Definitely! Click through to this blog post about how I teach and manage word work in my reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!
Download a Word Work cheat sheet for free from TPT!

If you are looking for sample lesson plans to teach specific concepts, check out my Grades 3-5 Phonics Intervention Packs.

On a personal note: I know that this year (2013) is a rough year for teachers throughout the United States.  Teacher pay is down, morale is low, and you are consistently being told how to best do your job by people who haven't set foot in a classroom in at least 5 years.  High-stakes testing is taking over the schools, and the impact is being felt even in Kindergarten and First grade classrooms.  Please know that I understand, and I hope you are able to keep your classroom environment positive for both you and your students.  Seek out help if you need it, and continue to seek help if the first "solution" didn't work.  Your profession is truly important, one that every person called to teach should feel proud of.  As a teacher, a Literacy specialist, a parent, and a taxpayer, I appreciate the work you do every day.  Thank you!!

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