Guided Reading: The Stoplight

Our centers are rolling along.  We’re pulling small groups for small group instruction and guided reading.   We’re in the groove of a great lesson on using picture clues to help us figure out a word and it happens:  Someone storms the guided reading area and informs us that “I touched a dog.”    And when I say stormed…I mean it…it’s like an Army battalion storming the enemy when they come busting up to the table!   Since this small group time is so valuable I wanted a way to let the students know that we we’re busy and could not be interrupted.  So, the stoplight was born.

Guided Reading Stoplight

Since we all know that our students are incredibly visual, I figured why not use a red light to let them know to STOP.  It makes complete sense.  They know red means stop.  The red light is a powerful visual that they can clearly see and they clearly know it means to stop and not interrupt our group time!

I had this lamp in the classroom library.  It was missing the shade because the shade met an untimely death in the Great Classroom Move of 2013.  Did you know those thing crack and crumble?!  True story!
With our many trips to Lowe’s I always see these colored light bulbs for around $5.  I snagged one of these red bulbs,  screwed it in the lamp and plugged it in!  BAM!  Instant stoplight!
guided reading stoplight
 The lamp sits on my table.  When the red light is on, Mr. Greg cannot be interrupted .
Now, with visual supports, we also know our students need some training and some guidelines.  So, I wanted them to know that there are some situations when they can interrupt me.  That’s where our interruptions poster comes into play!

The Nick Jonas Poster

You have probably seen these posters all over the internet and social media.  So the red light means you can’t interrupt…unless….Nick Jonas is coming in the door.  Ya’ll, if NJ shows up in my classroom EVERYBODY better interrupt me.   Aliens landing?  Yep, I need to know.  Are you on fire?  Better tell me.  And if the classroom is flooding, then interrupt me.
Now, is this meant to be funny?  TOTALLY!   Do the kids get it?  Of course they do…AFTER we discuss it.  You see, we can’t just turn on a light and hang up a silly poster and be done.  Our job is teach the expectations.  So we discussed the red light.  And we discussed the poster.  We giggled a lot.  Some of us admitted that they didn’t know who Nick Jonas was (Mr. Greg corrected that devastating error!).  We also discussed how important it was to seek help from friends.  I mean if you can’t interrupt Mr. Greg to know what a letter is, who can you ask?  YOUR FRIENDS!   This teaches the students self control, responsibility and problem solving.
guided reading
Now, my students also know (because this is a standard operating procedure in our classroom) that if you are hurt (like for real hurt…), in danger or dead, you can also interrupt me.  Notice I did not say SICK.  Nope.  If you’re sick or feel like you might be sick, GO. TO. THE. BATHROOM.  Because if you throw up on me, well…I can’t be responsible for how my body responds and nobody wants that mess.
And now our guided reading time is seeing WAY FEWER interruptions.  Everyone knows who Nick Jonas is and we’re supporting each other more and more!
Students need visual reminders and this was the perfect and cheap and easy reminder to solve one of our classroom problems!  YAY FOR SUCCESS!
guided reading lessons

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