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Classroom Management During Reading Groups

Janelle Cox

One of the biggest challenges elementary teachers face is keeping students occupied while they are trying to teach reading groups. While students are bring pulled for reading groups, the other students should stay busy with a list of things to do. While this may take a little bit of extra prep time from you, it is essential if you want to get through your reading groups without any interruptions.

Here are a ten classroom management techniques to keep students busy while you’re teaching reading groups.

1. Classroom Management: Independent Reading

This is by far the easiest, and it’s the “go-to” task that teachers choose first. Students need to get in at least 30 minutes of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time each day. Make it fun by allowing students to get comfy with a pillow, or go somewhere other than their desk to relax and read. Make sure that during this time the books are at their reading level.

2. Independent Writing

This can be something fun, like responding to a writing prompt, writing a letter to a character in a book that they have read, or creating a story of their own. Using classroom management techniques to allow time for some extra creative writing can never hurt.

3. Literacy Games

Classroom games are a wonderful way to review information learned. Students can practice skills such as spelling words, vocabulary, comprehension skills, and so on. File folder games are perfect for younger students. This is when you laminate a file folder and place the directions to the game on one side, along with the pieces to the game in a pocket. Then, when you open it up there is a game board. Older students, can play games such as Scrabble or Boggle where they have to use critical thinking skills.

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4. Task Cards

Students can choose a task card to complete during guided reading groups. Task cards are cards that give students a topic and an activity to compete. You can make your own, or print out one that you find online. Task cards can be something simple like put words in ABC order, or more challenging like having students read a brief statement and answer a question. Task cards are great because students can pick enough cards to complete to keep them busy through the duration of the reading time.

5. Manipulatives

Hands-on activities are always a great way to keep students busy. Children can always use extra practice with phonics, site words, rhyming, etc. Give students tiles, Scrabble letters, or any other kind of manipulative to use to practice whatever they need to work on.

6. Handwriting Skills

All elementary students, no matter what grade they are in, can always use practice in their handwriting skills. If you don’t have handwriting books, then try and make it fun and allow students to use a dry erase board, or mini chalk board to practice.

7. Buddy Reading

 Have students choose a partner to buddy read with. Paired reading is a research-based strategy that helps students who lack reading fluency. Allow students to pick a quiet place in the classroom to take turns reading aloud to one another.

8. Technology Time

If you’re lucky enough to have a computer or tablet in your classroom, then this is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to technology. Students can play a computer program that correlates with what they are reading, or type up their writing assignment. Students can use the tablet to create an iMovie, play an app that relates to what they are learning (Spelling City is great), or even watch a clip on the author of their book.

9. Reading Response

Once students have competed a book they can take this time to respond to what they have read with a reading response. Some ideas are:

  • Who are your favorite characters and why?
  • If you could change the title of the story, what would it be?
  • What did you like and what did not like about the book?

10. Spelling Work

Try a spelling relay worksheet. Students must compete all the laps before they can turn the assignment in. During lap one, students must write their spelling words, then rewrite them in alphabetical order, divide the words into syllables, write them in a sentence, then the final lap is to take a spelling test.

It’s important to have enough things on a list that students will never run out of things to do. Try writing a list of ten things on the front board. The students must complete all ten tasks during reading group time. If for some reason they complete all ten (which they most likely will never do), then they must read independently. The goal is to keep them busy, busy, busy, so you will not ever be interrupted.

How do you manage students during reading groups? Do you have any tricks or tips that work for your classroom? Share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators

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