Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Apple a Day Linky: Small Group Instruction

 Happy Sunday! I'm linking up again with Leigh from The Applicious Teacher for her "An Apple a Day" Linky party! This week we're focusing upon Small Group Instruction. Head on over and link up!

As you may know, I have only taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grades. Despite this, my small group time actually looks pretty similar between the little guys and the big guys. Since we have to tear down our entire room every summer and aren't allowed in our buildings over the summer anyway (due to cleaning and such), I will share some pictures of rooms past to show you my small group instruction.
I like to do small groups for both literacy and for math. I especially am becoming an advocate for a guided math format since it really allows me to differentiate and help my students no matter where they come to me mathematically. 

 In 2010-2011, I had 5th graders. This was one of my individual work areas for the kids while I was working in small groups. Just underneath that small easel are whiteboards and supplies for the kids to use as they work in their group. This area was mainly used for math. The blue drawers held manipulatives and other hands-on tools that the kids were allowed to get without asking. I used the blue pocket charts to post tasks and/or essential questions the farther we got into our units. 

 This was my small group reading area that same year with 5th graders. I had the word wall words posted here so the kids could use them as they were working in group with me. The red pocket chart on the right held our conference schedule. This was very useful for both me and the kids because they had the chance to sign up for other conference times if they needed more support. 

 Sill 2010-2011, 5th grade. I moved the small group area up front. The blue pocket charts held our guided math groups. I had 34 kids at that time so my groups were huge! Those colored bins under the easel held clipboards and supplies the kids used while working with me. 

 We hired a teacher in December that year so my small group area changed AGAIN. (I'm infamous for rearranging my entire classroom mid-year if things aren't working for me!) I added two small circle tables to my room, one of which is here. Kids met together here to work on activities related to literacy or math. The crates/tubs under that bulletin board held partner activities the kids worked on when they weren't with me. At that time we were using Literacy Stations so each kiddo had a partner and the partners were assigned a specific station each round for that day. 

 2010-2011, 5th Grade. This is the 2nd round table I added to my room. The materials in those tubs were more station activities that the kiddos did while I was working in groups. By this point because my room had been changed so many times to accommodate a huge 34 kid class that went down to 21 when we hired a teacher, I wasn't meeting with my kids at any particular spot. We either picked an empty table or met somewhere on the floor together. (They were the best class ever because they were soooo flexible!)

 2007-2008, 2nd grade. I had a HUGE room that year but no round circle table to start with so we added this rug and I met with my small groups on the floor! They thought it was cool because they got to share those pillows! Notice how the word wall was right back there also so the kids could refer to them when we were working together.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. This is messy because it was the beginning of the year and I was still sorting.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. Here's the same space in use. You can see my group materials are all lined up along the counter area. Each group had their own basket and I'd literally just reach behind me and grab that group's bucket for the day. Very easy. Usually the kids had an extension of our work together to do after they finished with me and then worked on literacy stations that went with our Reading Street curriculum.

 2011-2012, 2nd Grade. Those colored cards showed the kiddos their high and low areas in reading. This allowed them to know what to work on if they finished their station work early and needed something to do. Yo can't see the bins here but there were colored bins with activities the kids could do on their own if they finished early. For example if your color was orange, you knew to go to the orange label and select and activity. It worked great and the kids really enjoyed it when they found a partner with the same color and could work together if they were both done at the same time.

 2012-2013 4th/5th Grade. (Yes this is the same room from 2010-2011!) I put my crate seats I made the year before here along our whole group meeting area and inside the crates are materials for the kids to use during independent work time. They held mostly math materials. Above you can see my writing board that the kids used if they got done early and wanted to do some extra writing.

Since I had a split last year, I had two small group areas while my student teacher was with us. She often used this back area to work with her group and I worked with  my group in the front. This allowed us both to engage in small group teaching but be far enough apart that we didn't bother each other with our instruction.
The Caffeinated Teacher


  1. I love all the details in your post. So much information here! Thanks for sharing.
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Hi Brandee! Thank you! I LOVE small group instruction. It can be so hard to coordinate and manage! In that respect, having a different grade every year is almost a really good thing because it constantly forces me to reevaluate how I do things like small group based on the age level of my class.