4 Tips for running Literacy Groups in a Special Ed Classroom

Literacy / Reading Groups in Special EducationLiteracy is one of my favorite times of the school day! I want to share 4 of my favorite tips that help to make  literacy groups fun, engaging and meaningful in my special education classroom.

1) Run literacy in small groups and utilize paraprofessionals!
Literacy / Reading Groups in Special Education
Literacy buckets for each  group with name tags on buckets. All literacy materials are in buckets. 
We teach literacy in small groups (2-3 students per teacher/ para). We have a bucket for each group and have all of the literacy materials in the bucket (book, phonics materials, data sheets, etc.). I also have paras run literacy groups. No, I don't see every group every day... I make sure that I switch what group I work with each day but I trust that my paras can run quality literacy groups. I teach my paras how I want literacy groups to be done and they're AMAZING at it. I can literally watch them teach a literacy group and I rarely have anything I would do differently if I was teaching the lesson. Utilizing paras to run groups gives you more bang for you buck during literacy groups!

If you want to read more about how we run literacy groups and what specific tasks we do, you can check out this post.

2) Use manipulatives & hands-on activities
Literacy / Reading Groups in Special Education

To keep kids engaged during literacy activities, I suggest using a variety of manipualtives and hands-on activities based on students' needs/ abilities . During the book portion of reading, I make sure to have real objects, puppets, picture cards, etc. for students to interact with while we are reading and during phonics I love to use the letter sound tubs from Lakeshore.

3) Take data & make cheat sheets for paraprofessionals
Literacy / Reading Groups in Special Education
A data clipboard and data sheet for a student. The clipboard is kept in the literacy bucket.

Literacy / Reading Groups in Special Education
I like to keep our data clipboard/ data sheets for literacy inside our literacy buckets. I noticed that we often forget to grab data clipboards before we sat down for literacy groups so we sometimes just wouldn't take data. Keeping a literacy data clipboard inside the literacy bucket ensures that the data sheet is ALWAYS there and makes it easy to take data every. single. day during literacy. I also make cheat sheets/ simple lesson plans for my paras that include specifics about what each student should be working on and what supports they need. You can grab this paraprofessional lesson plan here. 

4) Use independent work activities so you can get some 1:1 time in
Reading Groups in Special Education
Simple sorting independent work activity. You can get it for FREE here.
Another great idea is to throw some literacy based independent work activities into your literacy groups. With one of my groups, I have student #1 complete 1-3 activities independently when I am doing sight words and taking data for student #2. Then I switch and have student #2 do a few independent work activities while I do sight words/ beginning letter sounds with student #1. This is super helpful if you have to do literacy in small groups but you still have students who need a little 1:1 instruction during this time.

Please leave any questions or suggestions around literacy groups that you have in the comments!