How To Fit Small Group Instruction Into Your Routine

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

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And now for today’s tip,

How to Fit Small Group Instruction into Your Routine.

1) Remove Timelines

Instead of having a specific time and duration for tasks, allow your students to have some autonomy over when and how they need to complete those activities.

For example. I used to expect my students to write a journal every morning by 9:30. Promptly at that time, I would instruct my students to clear off their desks and get ready for a spelling lesson. I would then deliver my lesson to the entire class, and expect my students to complete the worksheet or activity by 10:00.

I don’t do this anymore and believe it or not, this tiny change has worked miracles.

2) Clearly Define the Goals

Each morning I put a list of tasks on the board that I expect to be completed. The students know they have the freedom to work on these tasks in any order they want.

Besides a journal, I also have my students complete a DLR. This Daily Language Review is a 5 question activity that takes most students only five or ten minutes to complete. It helps reinforce grammar, phonics, sentence structure, onset and rime, analytical skills, punctuation, spelling, and more.

I will give you more details about this bellwork activity in an upcoming teaching tip.

3) Add more tasks

I also give the students a math worksheet each morning.

Sometimes, it will be strictly computational. I truly believe students should be doing math drills each and every day to improve their speed and accuracy.

Once again, this activity takes students anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete.

4) Target Teach

Here’s is where the small group instruction comes in.

I don’t teach a spelling lesson to the whole class anymore. Instead, I teach the lesson to one small group of students. I group these students by learning style and target the instruction accordingly.

I have the students assemble around a conference table that I sit at as well. This table is close to the board so I can turn around and use the board without having to get up.

We focus on the spelling pattern of the week and I have the students spelling out words according to the sounds. I can see how each student is using the letter pattern

5) Repeat

Once the students go back to their desks, I call the next group over to the table and repeat this entire lesson. I have found that a whole class lesson that takes 30 minutes can be done with a group of five students in about 10.

Sure, I end up teaching the same lesson, more or less, five times in a row. This takes 50 minutes of my time but the students get targeted instruction that truly enhances their learning.

6) Do it Daily

On Mondays, I use this routine to teach each small group a spelling lesson. On Tuesdays, I do a mini-lesson on writing. Wednesdays, we do Grammar. Thursdays, it’s word study. And Friday, I have the students use this time to catch up on any work they have fallen behind on. If they are all finished, they get some extra free time.

7) Free Time

Many students get free time every morning now because the get their work done. Even with the extra writing and math task I have thrown into the mix, the work gets done.

The students are happy because they get to choose which task to do first, second, third, and fourth, and they are motivated to do them knowing that free time awaits them after completion.

More Teaching Tips

I hope you have found this 3 Part Series on Small Group Instruction useful. If you use this or a similar strategy, I would love to hear from you. Perhaps, you have a tip you’d like to share. Please leave a comment below, send me and email, or you could even write a guest post for next week’s tip.

Here are some past Teaching Tip Tuesday posts you might find useful.

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