I am linking up with another friend, Leigh aka The Applicious Teacher on her weekly Linky Party. This week (although I am a bit late) is on Small Group Instruction. I think I have tried several different options over the years: I have done Smart Centers and have had kids paired up heterogeneously and 5/20 minutes rotations-- these were all when I had 18 little firsties in my room and they stayed with me all day. Then along came walk-to... and everything changed how my small group changed!
Walk to forced my groups to change-- we moved our kids into different groups for HFW, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and enrichment. All kids were grouped by FAIR, DRA, HFW, and teacher observation. So, now enters my small group instruction-- I love challenging my kiddos and I love enrichment so I asked to teach the comprehension/enrichment kids-- which meant that I had one of the bigger classes-- 25 kids while most of the other classes had 12, 16, 8.... so... how could I keep 25 kids moving in a class, engaged, and still have small group all in the confines of my 120 minute block? Oh, and did I mention that my classroom is small??? This one I had to really think about! So, in case you missed it, this is what my room looks like so you can see the challenges I faced when putting together my small groups:
My carpet! Where all instruction took place! Withe 25 kids the carpet was packed and some kids had to sit on the tile on the back!
I projected lessons, our text book online, our lesson hooks, everything!!
So, how did I manage small groups while focusing on enrichment and comprehension? I came up with literacy menus.
Each week my class gets a menu like above that focuses on the story/skill of the week and the kids are responsible for completing most/all of their centers by the end of the week. To me, I feel that kids at this level are entitled to be able to move the room by themselves and should have the freedom to choose the centers at their leisure. Plus it gives them a sense of responsibility and pride. Each center is geared at a higher level thinking skill. Most of my centers are in tubs placed at desks in tubs or around the room in pocket charts.
With a small room and lots of kids, there aren't many places to put them! They are free to start anywhere they wish, in any order they wish, as long as they follow the space limit for that center. For example, no more than 4 in the library or 3 in the listening center. I always have the expectations listed for each center posted in each center:
During this time that they are in centers, I will pull them to me for small group reading time where that is the heart and soul of my block. Since I have the enrichment/comprehension group I work on lots of modeling, non-fiction, reading across texts, think alouds, story mapping, and working on the various sections of Blooms taxonomy wheel:
At the end of the week I check work for understanding and completeness. I do monitor daily for students who are off task and WE all know there are those. For those kids who are just really off task then they do complete unfinished work with their homeroom teacher in my room at recess or at their recess. Well... that is my small group in a nutshell. I like it because it gives me lots of flexibility and it offers kids choices.
How do you do small group?