PD Day: Small Group Instruction

Oct 15, 2014

Professional Development.  It can be tricky.  You hope to gain a lot.  You hope that the day will be a good use of time away from your kiddos.  But you never really know for sure how it is going to go.  There is no guarantee.

When it goes well...it is awesome (but can also be overwhelming when you go to school the next day and try to implement every single little thing that you learned....poor kids!!)

Today I had a PD with Smekens Education on small group reading instruction.  And...well...I came away with messy papers and sticky notes everywhere.  That's a good sign!

So I need to reflect a little and process all my take-aways from the workshop.

First of all...this book!


I bought it.  I know that I am late to the bandwagon because I saw this book all over the blogs this summer.  But time goes quick and I just didn't jump fast enough.  So I am jumping aboard now and I can't wait to dive in to the book and Jan Richardson's website.  WOW!!! It is jam-packed with good stuff.

One thing that sold me on this book...Jan Richardson's lists of the high frequency words that are covered for each book level.  I have been pretty happy with the sequence of my high frequency words, but there are gaps and it could be better.  So what is my new goal...work of my high frequency sequence.

Okay...now I did not leave feeling like I need to completely change everything that I do in my guided reading groups.  THANK GOODNESS!!!  There are just some things I want to tweak or add.  So these may seem like small take-aways, but they are not.  Each little idea helps me to grow and I am so thankful!

1. Reading Salad...Karen and I do use this great idea from Tanny McGregor.  It is all about the thinking that takes places during reading.  During this PD, they talked about "distracting voice."  These are the voices or thoughts that are completely off topic when reading and discussing a book.  Brilliant!! We are totally going to throw some highlighters or baseballs into the bowl just to show that those thoughts do not belong in our reading salad!

2. Fluency...Last year Karen and I taught a visual fluency lesson to illustrate what fluency actually LOOKS like.  It was really successful and we want to do it again.  But we were introduced to a fluency rubric today that is actually created with our students.  YES!! Perfect!!  We will now be adding this to our lesson sequence.

3. Character...This idea comes with a terrible picture.  Sorry but it was the best I could get with my phone.

This picture shows a way to quickly discuss the feelings of a character during the story.  When you lift the flaps it is the same thing but for a different character.  I love this idea!! What a great way to compare and contrast two characters and their feelings.

4. High Frequency Words..I do need to tweak a few things.  More high frequency word writing.  Right now I do not do any.  Yikes! We just read the words in isolation and within text.  I need to do more of the written component for my lower kiddos.  I also need to have more interaction with these words (quick little games or letter manipulation.)

5. Reading Strategies...I really think Karen and I hit these well.  But one strategy I realize that I need to use more of is what Smekens called "analogy charts."  Basically, it is bridging that connection between words like "play" and "stay."  I need to explicitly show them how known words can help them to read unknown words.

6. Punctuation...They gave some great book recommendations to really illustrate the power of punctuation.


 An activity was also explained called Alphabet Soup.  It is just a quick way to have the kids practice punctuation marks with just alphabet letters.  This will be super helpful to my lower students because they can focus their energy on practicing the punctuation marks, instead of solving unknown words.  I found a full explanation of the quick activity on their website.

Now it is time to actually try some of these new ideas out!  I can't wait to share how they actually turn out in action :)


  1. Thanks for processing online (now I've had PD also!!) As I was planning for next week I added more HFW writing and analogy writing--glad to know I was on a great track, even before you mentioned it. Please keep us informed how this goes...

  2. It sounds like a great resource. I think I've pinned it. Anyway, it's nice to go to a PD that challenges but also validates!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. I love Kristina Smekens! I was lucky enough to see her several time when we still had money in our district for PD. She is so much fun isn't she! Your post reminded me of all of the training I had...I am going to go hunt down my books and notes! Thanks so much for sharing! I would love to see what you come up with when you do your word lists as well. I have been looking for something like that for a while now, and who knew it was right under my nose! Thanks again!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!


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