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Small Group Instruction Pt 3: Thoughtful and Intentional Small Group Planning

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Intentional Small Group Planning

  1. You've set up routines and procedures for Independent Work.

  2. You've mapped out a plan for meeting with groups and individual students through the week.

  3. Now, what do you do with the group when they are sitting at your table?

Framing a word in guided reading
Guided Reading Student Work


Intentionally plan to meet readers’ needs during

workshop and small group instruction

Picture this…

You’ve made your plan for meeting students to ensure that you have face to face time with each student in the classroom this week.

You’ve pulled your students to the small group table. They are looking at you and you are looking back at them.

Now what? How do I make the most of this time with my students?

Thoughtful and intentional planning! Planning for Small Group Instruction can go two ways:

  • Traditional Guided Reading group

  • Strategy group instruction

In order to make a thoughtful and intentional plan to get the most from your students, you must...

  • examine their reader’s notebooks,

  • look over your anecdotal notes,

  • review their latest running records,

  • replay the conversations they have had with you.

This will enable you to make note of their strengths and needs based on the reading profile you have built for each of the students. This information will inform your small group instruction to make a thoughtful and intentional plan to meet your readers immediate needs.


Planning for Small Group Instruction

Planning for Guided Reading:

  1. Note the strengths and needs of each student in the group

  2. Choose a book that will build on their strengths and nurture their needs.

  3. Plan how students will engage in the book. Choose an engagement tool.

  4. Plan how students will respond to the reading.

Choosing a book means finding a short text that will build on the readers’ strengths but will also nurture a need.

Now, choosing a book to use with your group requires you to know the text. Think about what supports the text will offer the group and what features will challenge the group.

Decide how you will support the challenges of the text while students are reading.

Decide on an engagement tool. This is a tool that will keep students engaged in the text, guide them through the new learning and aid in their building comprehension.

It's not just busy work; it's reading thinking work!

Planning for Strategy Instruction:

  1. Note strengths and needs of each student in the group

  2. Choose a strategy with which students have demonstrated a need.

  3. Plan how students will engage in the use of the strategy. (Engagement tool)

Strategy groups are more fluid than traditional guided reading groups. Strategy groups are students put together who have a similar reading need that can be addressed within their self-selected text but during a small group session.

When you reflect on your conferring notes and the work you have observed in your readers' notebooks, you will find students who may read on different levels but have a similar reading need.

👉These students can be gathered in a group to reteach a strategy or skill that is proving to be a challenge which requires further nudging and guidance.

👉These students can be gathered in a group to teach a strategy or skill that has not been taught in whole group but the small group is ready to move on.

Decide how you will reteach or teach the strategy for students to try out within their self-selected texts.


Successful small group instruction is so much more than just a group of 3-5 students gathering together for a lesson.

It's all about preparing the classroom structures while providing the tools that support small group instruction (and conferring).

Until next time...

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