Small group is where the magic happens! There are so many moving pieces that getting started doesn’t always seem magical. With valuable tips and an in-depth look at smart small group techniques, we can provide our students with effective personalized instruction. Read on to learn how veteran educators create an ideal setting for successful learning experiences!
1. Phonological Awareness
Time is a precious commodity during the school day, and we must maximize every second! The first minutes of small group are the most important, but sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin! I believe the first minutes of small group should include phonological awareness and letter-sound correspondence, among other things. Read all about the first minutes of small group here.
2. Organization of Small Group Materials
When it comes to getting set up for small group time, the less time it takes, the better. That’s why Leigh, from The Applicious Teacher, suggests using a 3 drawer system to store all your small group materials for the day. Dedicate a drawer to each group and as you pull your materials, place it in each drawer. Now, you’re not losing precious time looking around for materials, and you’ll stay organized all week long! You can read more about how Leigh organizes her small group time here.
3. Literacy Manipulatives
Reading small groups are where Amanda from Mrs. Richardson’s Class likes to say the magic happens! But let’s be honest-it doesn’t happen without intentional planning and prep! One thing Amanda loved to have at her finger tips were literacy manipulatives for students. From personal sound walls to letter tiles to alphabet arcs having everything easily accessible for each student helped save time! Amanda suggests to have a small group set of literacy manipulatives prepped and ready to go. This is as simple as making a laminated copy for each student and placing it in a large ziploc baggie! You will love having things ready to go at your fingertips! Grab a set of FREE literacy manipulatives from Amanda HERE.
4. Small Group Games
When it comes to playing games, Amy says she loves them most when used in a small group format. Consider introducing a phonics or math game during your small group time. Then, students can play those games in partner or whole group settings with more confidence and ease. Playing games with a smaller group of students can allow the students to focus better, while also giving you the opportunity to assist in a fun way! Keep those games that are student-favorites near your small group area so that you can pull them out when needed!
5. ELA Exit Tickets
Trina from Trina Deboree Teaching and Learning says exit tickets are like the hidden gems of quick formative assessments, especially when used in small groups. They give teachers a valuable glimpse into students’ understanding and are short and right to the point. Students can also reflect on their knowledge by using a student rubric. Click here for a free self-reflecting rubric.
ELA exit tickets can be used in small groups, and they can be used to form small groups. For example, after using a quick exit ticket assessing a standard, say the main idea, allow students to turn in each ticket. Then, create two piles. One pile indicates the student has it; the other shows the student needs more help. Next, take the group that needs more support and form your small group. Quick and easy. Hear more about standards-based assessments on One Tired Teacher podcast, episode OTT 67: A Closer Look at Standards-Based Grading.
6. Guided Math Groups
Marcy from Saddle Up for 2nd Grade lives and breathes by her Guided Math Binder when it comes to keep everything organized and in one place for small groups, including group organization. She has a section for her lesson plans for each group, a spot to keep her anecdotal notes, and uses a checklist to mark off standards as they are mastered. You can read more about how Marcy organizes her Guided Math Binder here.
7. Grouping Students for Small Group
Grouping students can be a challenge sometimes. Tammy from The Owl Teacher has 8 different ideas for how you can group your students differently each time so that you don’t have to face that challenge. One of her favorite ways of grouping students is to randomly pull sticks from a can with student numbers on it. This ensures that it’s random and all students are given an equal opportunity to work with different students. You can learn about 7 other ways to group your students by checking out this post.
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