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How do I manage guided reading groups with live video?

september 8, 2020

As elementary educators look for ways to teach reading remotely, platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are becoming popular tools for leading both large and small-group instruction.

When the technology is in place to utilize these live video platforms, small-group guided reading can operate much like it does in the traditional, in-person classroom.

But one reoccurring issue that teachers are grappling with is how to manage a live video session with procedures that allow for some students to read to themselves while others are reading out loud as the teacher listens in.

The potential for mass chaos is certainly present unless you have appropriate procedures in place. Here are some simple tricks to make your small-group reading time productive and purposeful.

Set your screen to gallery view

First, when leading a guided reading group, make sure all your students have their cameras on. Then set your screen so that you can see all of their faces. This will allow you to quickly monitor if students are reading the text that has been assigned.

Use the mute and volume features

When you are ready to confer with just one student and you want to listen to just that student read aloud, put everyone else on mute. This will allow you to zero-in and listen carefully to the one reader.

While you are working one-on-one with a single student, have the rest of the group turn the volume down on their speakers. This will allow them to continue reading their own text without being distracted by the collaboration that is occurring between you and the one student who is reading aloud.

Use prompting cards

When you are finished working with one student and it’s time to move on to another, this transition can occur by holding up an index card with the name of the next student written on it. Remember, you can’t call out the name of the next student because everyone has the volume turned down!

In order for the prompting card to work, students need to be taught to glance up at their screens at the end of each page or at a specific point in the passage.

When a student sees you holding a card with his name on it, he turns up the volume as you unmute his microphone.

Use the chat feature

If you don’t want to use the prompting cards, you could follow the same basic procedure, but instead of students looking to you for a name on a card, they look in the chat area. When you are ready to listen to the next student read, you could simply type into the chat, “Jerome, I’m ready to listen to you read.”

As we share in our professional development for teachers, the best-practice strategies we use in the brick-and-mortar classroom are almost always adaptable to a virtual format. The challenge comes in determining the best way to pull it off.

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