Reading Groups Named After Pets

I’ve heard all kinds of debate about whether to name leveled groups using colors, animals, etc. One year, my guided reading groups were all animals, which I didn’t think would be a problem. But I had a fellow teacher criticize my naming of groups because “6th graders are too old for animal groups.”
A friend showed me this idea that I really like. The reading groups were named after pets that the teacher had owned over the years. One of the pets was a dog named coco. The group wasn’t called “the Cocos”, but were called “Coco’s Team”  or “Team Coco” so that the students were team members rather than animals.  (Since the theme was pets, the teacher also chose a weekly “Top Dog Reader” to spotlight good work or improvement.)
Reading Group Names
I thought this would be a clever way to help your students get to know you while helping with the group naming situation. I’m definitely trying this in the future.
Have a great idea? Send it to me (squareheadteachers at gmail dot com) and I’ll post it so other teachers can benefit. Thanks!

Fluency in a Flash! (Easy Literacy Center)

Here’s a great way to get more use out of those leveled reader books you use for a week and then have to put back in the box until next year… and make an easy center for your students! After you’ve gone through the books with your guided reading groups and are moving on to the next set of books, place the ones you’ve already used in a box or plastic shoe box. Also include a bunch of timers for kids to use while they do a 1 minute timing. If your kids are on various levels, make a list of which kids use which books (for example, list kids who use the books with the red tab, green tab, etc.). Include copies of some basic story graphic organizers. Here’s what kids do for the center:

1. Whisper read the entire book. They should have seen it last week, so it won’t be killer. If you have those plastic PVC pipe phones, use them for this step too.

2. Fill out a graphic organizer about the book.

3.  Turn to the first page of the book and start the timer counting down from 1 minute. When the timer stops, have them use a paper clip to mark where they finished. Have them do it a second time to see if they can get farther the second time.

So here’s the overall supplies list for the center:

  • leveled readers from last week (and current list of kids’ levels)
  • box/plastic shoe box
  • copies of a basic graphic organizer
  • paper clips
  • timers
  • whisper reading PVC pipe phones (optional)

fluency in a flash