Reading Groups Traps: Avoid these 5 Things

Running reading groups can feel like juggling a million balls… we’ve been there too.

Even though it can be difficult, reading groups are a crucial part of the school day, so how can you ensure they run efficiently and calmly?


Let’s start with what to avoid.These are common mistakes we see and are mistakes we have made ourselves over the years. The best part is, with a little planning, we can steer clear of these things and have our reading groups running smoothly and efficiently all year long.

5 Things to Avoid to Run Effective Reading Groups

Avoid Over Complicating Activities or Choosing Rowdy Tasks

A common mistake is overcomplicating activities or choosing ones that are too rowdy. Simplicity is often the key to success in the classroom, especially for reading groups. With students engaged in different tasks simultaneously, while you focus on teaching a small group, it’s essential to keep activities simple and engaging.

Solution: Stick to simple, familiar activities that keep students engaged and fairly quiet. Routine is key. Choose activities that students enjoy and are used to, ensuring that the group sitting in front of you receives your full attention.

Word sort reading groups activity


Avoid Choosing Activities That Require Explicit Instruction or Supervision

Avoid selecting activities that require explicit teacher instruction or supervision. Reading groups should promote independent work because your energy needs to go to the small group you are working with. Planning activities that are too difficult can lead to students being off-task, getting distracted or constantly interrupting you to ask for help.

Solution: Choose activities that your students are comfortable with and can complete independently. Keep expectations and activities consistent, allowing students to work productively without needing constant guidance.syllables sort reading groups

Avoid Lack of Preparation for Small Group Lessons

Not being prepared for your small group lessons is a mistake that can undermine the effectiveness of your reading lessons. Grabbing a book last minute and winging the session does not lead to productive learning.

Solution: Preparation is key. Collect two weeks’ worth of readers at a time and store them in your classroom. Always have a familiar reader ready for students to start on while waiting for the class to settle. Keep a basket or toolkit of necessary items ready to go. Make quick notes or teaching points about the book on a sticky note and attach it to the front. This strategy is informal, quick, and keeps your plan handy.Reader-with-planning-post-it-note-RSC

Avoid Planning Activities That Require Lots of Marking

Activities that require extensive marking can add unnecessary workload to your reading groups. You want to focus on real-time feedback and interaction with students in your small group, while everyone else is working on hands-on, interactive literacy activities. Teachers have enough work, you don’t need a whole pile of marking to complete once reading groups are over.

Solution: Design activities that allow for repeated practice and hands-on learning. We know students learn by doing, so games and puzzles are a great solution. Also teach your students to work with each other and provide peer feedback as they are working.contraction blocks reading groups

Avoid Grouping Students by Levelled Readers

Grouping students by levelled readers is a common practice but not always the most effective according to the science of reading research. It’s better to group students by skill development rather than just their reading level. Learn more about the science of reading here.

Solution: Assess students’ specific reading skills and group them accordingly. Focus on phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and comprehension strategies. This approach ensures that each group works on the skills they need to improve, making reading groups more effective.Reading-group-posters

Bonus Reading Groups Tip

Do Establish a Routine

Consistency and predictability are crucial for successful reading groups. Make reading groups a regular part of the school day to avoid chaos and ensure smooth operation.Our-reading-rules-sign


By avoiding these common mistakes and implementing our solutions, you can run effective, engaging, and calm reading groups in your classroom.

If you have trouble getting your reading groups to run like clockwork, you need our framework. Our 5-step process will transform your reading groups – the uncomplicated way!


Learn more here.


What to read next:

Aligning your reading groups with the Science of Reading

Setting up reading groups for success

5 ways to increase student engagement




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