I have witnessed how powerful a solid guided reading program can be in helping students develop their skills as readers. I am never done learning about this topic. I have read all the gurus and still hunger for more. A stand out in this group for me has been Jan Richardson and The Next Step in Guided Reading. I love her no nonsense approach to the teaching of reading. She has come out with a set of dvd's that show her working with guided reading groups. Watching her in action is inspiring!
I have tried setting up our guided reading area many different ways and then decided a table plus two student desks at the ends gives our group enough room and the two desks gives me some storage for books, the magnet, board etc.
I also have played around with the management piece but stuck with the wheel system all of last year and loved the result. My kids were trained on it and it ran like clockwork!