The past few weeks I have been doing A TON of small group teaching. I have always done guided reading (against my own will- because I hate it!). And I have made it my goal every year to get better at math small group teaching…and every year I fail.
But this year I invited our district math coordinator to come in and model a lesson for me on fractions because fractions are hard to teach. She did this amazing lesson in a small group format and I was convinced I needed to change my math routine immediately.
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Small Group Teaching Organization
As with everything I say, write, blog about, speak about- I firmly believe that you have to have organization routines in place BEFORE effective teaching can happen. So I want to share with you a few organization tips for small group teaching.
You need a home for everything
Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
The black bin is where I store all of my math station games and the clear tubs are where all the current activities in use are stored for kids to access.
If you look at the white shelves behind the u-table, that is where I store all of my small group materials. The white trays on top are where I put my reading and math small group plans. And the big piece of fabric below hides my plastic drawers with my manipulatives.
This free list shares my Top 10 Recommended Organization Tools for Classroom Teachers. Many of the things I use in small group teaching can be found on this list.
Create a binder to hold all of your small group teaching plans and notes
Establish a routine for rotating stations
This is the management board I use for literacy stations.
And this is how I rotate Math stations… Although now I combined “At Your Seat” and “Hands On” to be one station so they only go through 3 rotations a day and I can meet with each group.
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Small Group Activities
The best way to teach in a small group setting (especially in math) is to take what you had planned for your whole class and bump it up AND bump it down.
What I mean by that is, whatever you would normally teach whole group- set that as what you are going to teach your middle groups. Then scale back for your lower group- spend two days on one topic instead of just one.
With your higher group, do a quick intro and then more independent practice at your u-table so you can monitor and reteach.
Small group teaching is different than intervention. I think small group teaching can be scary because you feel like you have to work on the groups level- and you do.
But you also have to keep moving, even if they don’t get it. The kids who aren’t getting what you are teaching because they don’t have the foundation…those kids get pulled during morning work or some other time you can find to intervene with them.
Here are my final thoughts of encouragement to you:
1. Start Small: Figure out a routine for managing your students and implement it. But instead of meeting with every group every day, meet with one group. And then spend the rest of your time monitoring students until they have the expectations down.
2. Create an Implementation Plan: You don’t have to start right away. Look at your unit planning documents, when do you start a new unit? Put that date on the calendar and then work backward. Create a plan of what you will work on to roll out your small group teaching and then put it into action.
The Classroom Organization Guidebook offers numerous more examples of how to organize small group materials, student materials, and station activities.
Download your copy now and get to organizing your classroom!
Until next time,