Yesterday I was able to read with almost every student in my class.  After I posted this on my Facebook page, someone asked if I would share about my reading program – of course!

When I moved from second grade to kindergarten four years ago, I started out pulling reading groups, just as I had in second grade.  What I found was, unlike my second graders, kindergarteners were so easily distracted by, well life, that my reading groups weren’t very productive.  I slowly started dwindling down the number of sprouts in a group until, eventually, I was just pulling one at a time.

For me, this has proven the most effective way to deliver reading instruction in kindergarten – one on one.

First, let me be clear, I do not even start pulling kids to really read until January.  The first few months of school we’re busy learning routines and building phonemic awareness so we’re able to read.  In December, I slowly start pulling kids with simple one word or rhyming word books.  Finally, in January, I give everyone a DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) to find out what level they’re reading at and we begin.

Each child has a book box for their books.  After admiring my teaching neighbor’s boxes, she pointed me in the direction to buy them here.  They are simple cardboard, but they are inexpensive and I let the kids decorate theirs with stickers.  We work on about one book a week.  Some kids move a little faster and others a little slower, but the average is about a book per week.

I know what you’re thinking – how in the world does he read with every child one on one everyday?  Well first, let me be clear, I don’t.  My lowest readers almost always read with me (or someone – maybe a volunteer or older student) daily.  My highest readers may only meet with me two to three times a week.  As for the ‘when’ – there are basically three times during the day I pull kids one on one to read.

1. During and after breakfast – We have about twenty minutes in the morning when all children eat breakfast.  Some kids eat at home and others just eat quickly.  When they’re done, they read independently and I call kids to read with me.  It’s a wonderful motivator to get them to eat and clean up too!

2. During Literacy Centers – As kids work independently or with other adults at centers, I do not have a center, but instead pull kids one on one during this time.

3. During Center Time – Each afternoon the kids get to play, socialize, and build important social and motor skills.  This lasts usually around a half an hour (but some days closer to forty-five minutes) and by January kids are able to manage pretty independently so I can pull them to read.

Now ‘what’ do I do?  When I call a child over, they grab their book box and we usually warm up with a book they know.  After that, I introduce a new book or we work on their ‘new’ book for the week.  The work I do mirrors what happens in a reading group – we talk about decoding strategies and what good readers do.  We talk about comprehension and practice retelling.

Here’s the key for me: by giving each child my undivided attention, I am never wasting time managing behaviors in a small group.  I spend less time with each child than I would with a group (usually about five to seven minutes), but that time is so much more effective and the student with me is on task and learning the entire time.

This might not work for everyone, but it has proven very successful for my sprouts over the years.

How do you deliver reading instruction?  As always, please feel free to comment or ask questions in the comments.