It can feel a little scary to move from something we know well and do proficiently to something that is new. However, if we are truly interested in meeting the individual reading needs of our students, moving to instruction that is centered on those diverse needs is a change worth making.
One thing that really helped us make the shift was to abandon groups altogether for a month or so and spend all of our literacy block conferring with children one-on-one. As we listened to and met with individuals, we learned about their strengths and interests, and especially their needs. We zeroed in on a goal and assigned strategies based on these assessments. Then we focused on those strategies each time we reconnected.
After four to six weeks, we were confident and proficient enough to pull students into groups based on the strategies they needed, regardless of their reading level. Students received instruction and support, and practiced in their own good-fit books. Once a strategy was mastered, students were moved into another group, keeping the groups truly flexible.
So extend grace to yourself. Take some time to really get to know your readers. We are certain that like us, you'll discover the joy and power behind focused and intentional instruction based on their needs.