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.)
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!
When I first started teaching, I didn’t know what to call each reading group. Although students are grouped by reading level, you can’t name them with numbers or letters (or anything that indicates one’s higher or lower than another, even though students will figure it out eventually). So I chose animals our school had die-cuts for. But I wish I had heard of this idea before I named the groups!
One Arizona teacher names her groups after the various desert cactus plants in her region. She teaches the kids how to pronounce them and has a picture on the wall next to the name, so the kids will become more educated about their region! So smart!! Here are her posters of the cactus reading group pictures. This is a great way to sneak a little extra learning into your classroom.