The Costs and Benefits of Reading Groups in the Classroom

As a substitute teacher, there have been classes where I had to put students into individual reading groups. From personal experience, there are definitely benefits but there are costs as well. If the reading groups are structured the right way, you probably will reduce the costs that are associated with the smaller reading groups. We’ll go with the benefits of the reading groups in the classroom.

There are advanced readers, average readers, and below-average readers. The advanced readers aren’t ones you have to worry about. It’s fifty-fifty with the average readers. The below-average readers tend to need the most reaching out to in order to improve their reading ability. Below-average readers tend to be the special-education children. Of course they have strengths in certain subjects, but not all subjects. That’s how reading groups are usually split up as.

With reading groups, not only do you get to have more face time with the students that need it, students could possibly help one another out with reading, which works out both ways. We should encourage students to help each other out with reading and what not. There is so much teachers and parents can do to help out students. Other students helping out should fill in the gap. That’s one major benefit of reading groups right there.

However, benefits do not come without their costs. The costs of reading groups depends on how they are structured. If you put all the below-average readers together, you’ll be spending more time with them. It’s going to take away from the other reading groups as well. Meaning the other reading groups will probably goof off and start disrupting the class. And that’s going to take time you need to help the current reading group because you’ll be busy trying to keep order in the classroom.

That’s one big cost of reading groups. The other big cost can be avoided by carefully structuring the reading groups. When structuring reading groups, the teacher should know the students. Basically if you have two or three students in a group that’s just going to gossip, it’s going to cause problems. Little to nothing will be accomplished if that’s the case. There have been numerous cases where students had to move to different desks in the class or different spots out on the blacktop during PE.

Knowing who not to pair one student with helps. But the benefits do tend to outweigh the costs if the groups are structured the right way. As a teacher, be prepared to constantly restructure reading groups to keep the class in order.