Small-group reading is an assisted literacy experience. Teachers can support and guide students with texts on their instructional level before, during, and after reading. Each small group consists of two to six students.

This flexible setting allows a teacher to match students' reading abilities to appropriate materials. Then he or she can observe reading behaviors, and model and prompt for specific strategies that will improve students’ word solving, comprehension, and fluency.

The 3 Phases of Small-Group Reading

1. Before Reading

The small-group reading sequence begins by activating prior knowledge about the concepts, people, places, and objects that appear in the text that students will read. This is generally done before making direct references to the books so that students approach the text already having connections to it.

The next crucial step is orienting students to the leveled text. Each member of the group is given his or her own copy. The students then locate the title and author, study the front cover illustration, and collaborate with the teacher in an introductory conversation about the book.

The teacher provides a brief overview of the text and then prompts students to discuss the pictures and the author's intended message. Structure is incorporated by exposing the students to recurring language patterns and by introducing visual or graphophonic cues. In this exercise, students locate a known high-frequency word or predict the letter that they would expect to find at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

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