One aspect of in-person learning that is a little challenging to recreate while distance learning is small groups. For guided reading, this is critical. If your district won’t let you use Zoom, there is a way to create breakout rooms on Google Meet.
You might be wondering, “Why do I need breakout rooms for small groups?” Well, if you are reading with a few students in guided reading, you need to be able to listen to one student read at a time and block students from hearing each other read to minimize distractions. The solution is to host your guided reading group in one meeting. Then, create a new meeting for each student in a “breakout room” by themselves.
Let’s jump into how to use breakout rooms on Google Meet so you can successfully launch virtual guided reading groups.
Setting Up Breakout Rooms on Google Meet
- First, you’ll want to create a document to save the links to your meetings you’ll create. You’ll need one document for each guided reading group. This could be a simple Google Doc, Slide, or an interactive PDF. It just needs to have the group name (Group 1, Red Group, etc.) and all of your students’ names or photos with LINKS. I created the one below.
You need to create one PDF (or Doc or Slide) for the whole class. For kindergarten and first grade, I would insert photos of your students or their names. I’ll explain how to use these in just a bit!
2. Sign in to your Google account. Then, click on the menu and go to Meet. You can also go to the Google Meet website directly.
3. Click on “New Meeting” and then “Get a meeting link to share”.
4. Copy the meeting link and paste it in the group’s document at the top. No need to create a new link for each of your guided reading groups because you won’t ever meet with two groups at once.
5. Next, create a new link for each student in your class. You’ll want to save this link by creating a hyperlink for each student’s name or their photo.
These steps set up all of the links you’ll need for guided reading. You can reuse your meeting links, so students can keep their own link all year. Your group meeting link can stay the same all year, too.
Implementing Breakout Rooms on Google Meet
After you have assessed students and created guided reading groups, you’ll be ready to start!
1. Send or post the document with links so that each student can easily access it.
2. When it’s time to launch the group, each student coming to the meeting will click on the group’s link. Start your lesson.
3. When you get to the independent reading time of your guided reading lesson you’ll want to send students to their breakout rooms to read. Mute everyone in the group meeting. Then, ask each student to click on their name or picture to launch the new breakout room for each student. You’ll want to mute each student in their own room too so you can focus on one student.
4. Choose who you will listen to while reading and click on their name/picture to join their room. Unmute that student and complete your running record.
5. When time is up or you see that students are done reading, ask them to close their breakout room meeting tab. Unmute everyone and finish up the lesson as a small group.
Tips for Using Breakout Rooms
Here are just a few extra tips or things to consider when using breakout rooms on Google Meet for guided reading:
- If you don’t want to worry about muting students while they are in their own breakout room, you can add the Chrome extension “Mute Tab” (free HERE). This allows you to mute individual tabs so students can’t hear each other reading from your computer.
- Experiment with breakout rooms before you officially start a guided reading group. This could be in a get to know you activity done in a small group. You can also grab your family members and give it a test drive! 😉
- Keep the guided reading group tab visible while you are in a breakout room with an individual student so you can monitor the group easily.
- Teach students a hand signal to use if they get stuck and can’t move forward. This will make it easy to see who needs immediate attention if you are listening to another student read. You can pop over to that student, help get them going again, and then go back to the original student.
- I like to open each tab in a new window, then size them so that they all fit on a screen. This allowed me to see everyone at the same time.
Looking for more help with virtual guided reading?
We are in unchartered territories, my friend! Launching guided reading during distance learning on top of everything else you’re trying to learn is hard. To help make this easier, I created a professional development resource called A Step-by-Step Guide to Guided Reading for Distance Learning.
This guide has everything you’ll need to learn how to launch virtual guided reading successfully, including:
- Tech Tips for Teachers and Students
- Parent email/note to send explaining what to expect
- Student first meeting slides and game, postcards, and cue sticks
- Video example of a first meeting
- Virtual Guided Reading Lesson Ideas
- Lesson Element Ideas
- Example Lesson Videos
- Without Breakout Rooms
- With Breakout Rooms
- Taking a Running Record Virtually
- Student Tools
- Guided Reading Response Journal
- Reading Response Forms
- Printable Version
- Google Slides™ Version
Our students may have fallen more behind than usual this year, so don’t waste any time. Get your guided reading groups up and running so you can reach every reader and move them forward.
Pick up your Guide to Guided Reading for Distance Learning today to get started.