In my room, when it comes to small groups, I have students rotate through 3 different places. A sample rotation schedule may look like this:
|Rotation #||Workstations||Current Event||Team Meeting|
|1||Lions (bubble)||Giraffes (high)||elephants (developing)|
|2||Giraffes (high)||Elephants(developing)||Lions (bubble)|
|3||Elephants (developing)||Lions (bubble)||Giraffes (high)|
Sometimes I will switch the developing and bubble groups just to keep things different. I always meet with my high group last however, and my bubble (average) and developing (low) first so that when they go onto other activities they understand what to do. The extra reinforcement really helps them be successful when they are in independent learning situations (which is the workstations and current event rotations).
How do I organize my groups?
I love that Laney mentioned a ton of different ways to organize groups. In my room I stick to 3 groups which mean 3 rotations. I do weekly quizzes that help me to see how students are doing with the concepts being taught. If students are improving quickly or struggling with a concept, I can bump them to a different group that will better meet their needs. Obviously student work and math talk also drives this as well. Next year I'd like to do an anticipation guide for each unit at the beginning.
Every single student in my classroom is given a math partner as well. That is the person they sit with during mini lessons, and work with throughout math workshop. I change the partners as I feel the need, but will do a big change every unit. That helps keep it fresh! I partner students within the group they are in. In my class I use animal names, so if giraffes are a group, I partner my giraffes together. I try to partner a high giraffe with a lower giraffe. Same would be true for my other 2 groups. I have found that this helps me stay organized and easily be able to rotate groups without kids all over the place.
I call my small group time: Team Meeting. We meet on the carpet in my room while everyone else is out in the rest of the classroom. I've found that meeting at a table is way too hard, and I love spreading out.
When students come to this station, I always have something waiting for them to work on. Sometimes it may be a word problem on the board, or fact flash cards. Anything they can do without me. During this time I am checking in around the room with students to make sure they have their materials, and any last minute questions. Once I am in Team Meeting, I am not allowed to be disturbed.
My bubble and developing small groups usually have a similar small group lesson. In my high group, we will grade whatever work was supposed to have been done for the day, and if all students completed it successfully, we will extend the lesson. I work in 2nd grade, so I might begin to introduce 3rd grade work to them. If they didn't understand the work they were supposed to have done, we will review it and do extra practice on it.
I sometimes introduce games to students in small group. These games eventually get put out into my math workstations rotation which I'll go into later in the week. I give students practice to do it as a group, and then work with their math partner. I can also differentiate the game between all 3 of my groups, even more hitting the skills that they need.
Here are some things that I make sure to do in my small group:
- It connects to the mini lesson and goal for the day. I have students revisit what we did in our mini lesson.
- At the beginning of the lesson, I will scaffold how to accomplish a task, frequently asking "What should I do now?" I allow them to walk me through how to do something.
- Students sit with their math partners, and will work with them towards the end of the lesson. A lot of times they will work on the activity they will be doing independently. Once I see that they can be successful with it, I will send them out into the room to get started without me.
- Give feedback! Tell what they are doing well, and what you liked about their thinking. Target in on exactly what might be confusing a student, and tell them what you see.
I use a planner to help organize all of my workshop. I have found it useful, and am posting in hopes you will find it useful too! Keeping track of 3 small groups a day can be a challenge, so on my planning page I have included the objective and what I see students doing. I always left a place for what to address next.
Click HERE to download the 2 page file.
If you need a more visual please check out the videos on Ms. Whiteley's blog at Toad-ally Exceptional Learners.
I hope this was helpful.. small group meetings is such a hard concept to fit into one blog post!