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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are lots of books available on The Big Picture of guided reading, the language arts block, and reading workshops. Very few of them are helpful when it comes giving detailed advice about what to say and do with kids during your actual guided reading lessons. Jennifer Serravallo's new book is the kind of book I have been looking for since I started teaching because I always felt like my guided reading instruction could be better. I have a strong feeling that this book will be sitting in the little pile that I always keep by my side throughout the year.

"Teaching Reading in Small Groups" is about how to form guided reading groups, how to pinpoint your instruction to match your readers' needs, and basically, how to help your kids be better readers. The author spends a good deal of time showing you how to coach kids during guided reading lessons. She is of the mind that your lessons should be brief and to the point, and you should get your kids practicing what you taught them immediately. She is a big believer in teaching kids how to be strategic readers (so am I). Snapshots of her dialogue are presented as exemplars throughout the book. I found these examples to be just right in terms of their depth and relevance. In addition to learning Serravallo's approach to leading comprehension strategy lessons, you also get a great chapter on teaching engagement with reading, tips for improving book clubs at all grade levels, and some useful methods for teaching fluency in small groups. I know that all of this stuff sounds familiar, but no other book that I'm aware of presents this information in such an exemplary way. Serravallo just shines when it comes to showing you HOW to do expert guided reading lessons with small groups and individual readers. (I would also like to mention that the author stays on topic, sounds convincing and knowledgeable without being supercilious, and is quite down-to-earth overall, which is much more than what I have come to expect from Heinemann books.)

Please note that this book is not a primer on reading comprehension strategies or an introduction to reading workshops. Teachers who have some experience with guided reading and teaching reading comprehension and are looking for ways to improve will benefit the most from this book. If you are a new teacher you could learn a lot from this book too, but I would encourage you to come back to it after you have gone through a general text on guided reading (something by Fountas & Pinnell) as well as a good book on comprehension strategies like "Comprehension Process Instruction" or "Explaining Reading".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In the book Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Jennifer Serravallo "provides you with a rich repertoire of ways to lead small groups, and with suggestions for how to teach each well." (pg ix) Confessing that in her third year of teaching she began to ask herself, "Is what I'm doing a benefit to the student, to myself (teacher), or to us both?" (p3) She decided she was really not teaching reading as much as checking up on how her students were doing. What she was teaching, she decided, was books, not readers. So she began to examine and change. Her goals for reading instruction are:
-match the individual
-move to independence
-teach explicit strategies
-value time, volume, and variety in reading
-have predictable structures and routines

In the following chapter Serravallo shows various ways to assess engagement, strategies, comprehension and conversation, and how to use the results to group students for instruction. This is the first book I've seen that covers realistic ways to assess engagement and conversation, and they were helpful. This is followed by chapters on teaching each of these points. These chapters are filled with specific examples of student work, charts, and other helpful graphics. The author is never content with merely saying "This is what I do," but always works to help the teacher make the best choices for herself and her students.

Teaching Reading in Small Groups ends with the author's take on small groups and Reading Workshop structure. She recommends Lucy Calkins book, and her ideas follow Calkins' closely. If you've read Calkins but want something shorter and more specific, or if you want an easier introduction to the Reading Workshop, I recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is not one of those professional books that will sit on a shelf collecting dust. This has become my new "go to" book because it offers something to everyone. I knew from the beginning that this would be a book I would use often when I saw the "Recommendations for Reading this Book" pages - for example... "My students seem to understand what I'm teaching them in a minilesson, but I don't see the transfer of that knowledge to their own books" go to Chapter 4. She lists scenarios/questions and directs the reader to the chapter that best addresses these issues. This is the book that every teacher should read and discuss with others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Practical, insightful and reality-based. Great tips for moving kids forward and tapping into their individual needs and strengths.
A must buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Serravallo shares a wealth of information that would benefit any teacher's instructional practice. This is a book I will return back to time & time again. If you want to see some notes visit my blog - [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book on small group reading instruction is a must read for any teacher looking for clear, strategic ways of grouping children effectively and efficiently. Jennifer Serravallo not only lays out the reading foundations upon which to build, but offers lots of concrete ways to talk about reading with students that helps both teachers and students feel more confident about what they are doing. In addition to my original paper copy of the book, I was so excited to be able to also put it on my Kindle so that I have the book with me always and can refer to it whenever I need some wise reading advice.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great resource to add to one's library on teaching reading. It is very focused and detailed on how to use on-going assessments for all areas of reading instruction and how to balance strategy lessons, fluency work, partnerships, book clubs, guided reading, conferences and more. I have been teaching reading (3rd -5th grade) for ten years, and I couldn't put this book down. Even though I have many teacher resources in my toolbox (The Art of Teaching Reading, Strategies that Work, Guiding Readers and Writers etc.), this one is very specific and will help you get your mind wrapped around all the possibilities with small group reading instruction. This book really gives you a good picture on how to do it all. If you are a new teacher this book can seem overwhelming even though it's short. Read and try small chunks before trying to do it all. Serravallo is an intentional and thoughtful practitioner that is very focused on student achievement. This is a must-have for any teacher that wants to be intentional and thoughtful about their work with their readers.
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book shares ways to teach the whole reader, not just teach the text and text strategies.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The book came with its cover ripped off how can I add that to my professional library when it looks like I can't even handle my books
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