Small groups are a must in my classroom as I have found they have so many benefits like helping students build confidence to speak up in a smaller, less intimidating atmosphere, and they allow me to have more 1-on-1 time with my students. However, I’ll admit, they weren’t always seamless and second nature. I’ve had to work and be creative to make them successful in my classroom, so I want to share with you my 5 best tips so you don’t have to go through the trial and error like I did!
#1: Quality Over Quantity
If you feel rushed and overwhelmed, so will your students, and then your small group time will not be as effective. Meeting with every student every day is unrealistic, and does not create quality small group time.
#2: Quick Transition Activities
Have quick transition activities for students to begin at the small group table before you join them. This way you can be checking on your other students to make sure they are situated and answer any questions that they may have between small groups. A few examples: (1) have a word study game that reviews the skill you did with that group the previous meeting, or (2) comprehension questions to recap what you learned in a previous group or to predict what you will read about that day.
#3: Must Do, May Do Structure
“I have these 5, what about the other 25?” Follow a must-do, may-do structure! Students independently MUST complete an activity aligned to a skill you are working on, and then have options they may work on if they finish! The expectations are clear and easy to follow.
#4: A Go-To 5
Whether it’s five tools that are your go-to and can be used different ways with every group (i.e. dice, highlighter tape, cups, etc.) OR five go-to activities (i.e. graphic organizers, reading passages, books) Having these already prepped or ready to grab makes planning so much easier and less intimidating! These Reading Response Sheets are one of my go-to favorites! They cover a variety of topics like read and respond sheets for fiction and nonfiction books, character traits, setting, making inferences, and the pack just keeps growing as I think of more reading needs!
#5: Schedule Alignment
Align your schedules with other resources in your school (if available!) If you have an intervention specialist or a title tutor who pulls kids, align your schedule with theirs! This will allow students who receive their services not to be pulled during instructional time, and allow you to mix schedules so kiddos receive small group instruction from each of you!
Looking for a go-to supply list for small groups? Check out my other blog post, Must Haves for ELA Small Groups, where I list my 8 must have supplies to make planning and executing small groups easier!