Welcome to Around The Kidney Table, a blog where I discuss and explore my experiences teaching literacy, both reading and writing, through small groups.  I teach third grade and have 24 students with a range of both ability and interest levels when it comes to reading and writing.  During my small groups I teach new skills, remediate when needed, and provide enrichment.  My small groups do it all, and it is my favorite way of teaching!

Below I will write a brief description of how I run my reading and writing blocks to give some background of how our mornings go, assuming there is no testing or assemblies.

Currently I have six different reading groups that are ability based, that meet anywhere from twice a week, to four times a week.  We have started our first literature circles of the year and are reading books with a strong focus on characters.  Some of the books we are reading are: Frindle, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon, The Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen and The Chalk Box Kid.  My students love these books, and I enjoy reading them again and again.

I have set up my reading block to have a phonics mini lesson to start our morning, followed by our first round of centers where I pull my first small group. Next we have our reading lesson, followed by two more center rotations where I pull two more small groups.  I meet with three small groups a day and students complete three centers (we use the Daily 5 centers: read to self, buddy read, work on writing, listen to reading, and word work) a day, all in addition to our reading lesson.

Following our reading block, we have writing every day.  I begin our writing workshop with a mini lesson based on the genre of writing or a skill that the class as a whole needs. There mini lessons generally lasts around ten minutes. We follow that up with about twenty minutes of uninterrupted writing time.  During this time I hold conferences with students and review the piece of writing they are working on or we review a skill together that they may be struggling with.

This quarter we are writing narratives, both personal and imaginary.  We work our way through the writing process and now that I have modeled each step, each student works at their own pace. Students get really individualized instruction this way.

By writing this blog, I hope to not only reflect on my practice, but to network and gather other teacher tested and student approved methods for engaging and inspiring students to not only read and write, but to do so passionately.  I hope to process and explore my opinions on important and current educational issues and to share resources that I have found and used, or hoped to use.   Let’s do this together!  Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope we all learn about reading, writing, and ourselves.



    1. So far I have really enjoyed ability-based reading groups. It allows me to progress monitor them easily with our MClass assessments. Students are grouped in mixed ability desk groups, so they get to work with students on several different levels throughout the day, but with our reading groups, having students on the same level works for us… for now!


  1. I am excited to read more about your literature circles! I am looking to incorporate these a couple of times this year in the middle school classroom. We use stations for different types of reader responses, but I like the idea of having stations for different “during reading” strategies!


  2. Jaymie, I would love to collaborate with you on book idea for your small groups. In the past, I have done many ability groups for reading, but struggle with finding texts that I love to teach year after year and get better with. I like to use a lot of non-fiction in reading groups…do you have any resources that you use for that or lessons that incorporate more of that genre? Also, how is Daily 5 going for you this year? I started it last year but we ended up moving to a model where we didn’t have as much centers time as our kids went to three separate reading groups a day (with only a few higher-leveled kids in independent activities or reading circles). I am excited to hear more about your efforts with this!


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