Teaching Tip – Small Group Instruction

In a previous Teaching Tip Tuesday post we looked at how you can divide students up according to their reading abilities. Today we will look at how this same strategy can be effective across the curriculum.

Try dividing students up according to learning styles.

I have a group of students in my class who are very independent and don’t need a lot of instruction. I have a few students who constantly ask for help and need a lot of direction in their learning. Those were the first two learning groups I formed. I then divided the rest of the class into two additional groups.

If you have 20 students, you can easily make 4 groups of 5 students each. If you have 25 students, I would suggest putting the students into 5 groups.

I use the reading groups for reading instruction only and the learning groups for other tasks such as grammar, writing, mathematics, and any other activity that would benefit from a small group as opposed to whole class instruction.

Why use small groups?

1) It Tailors the Instruction

Some students need more help than others. Some students can do more difficult or involved tasks than those you may tend to assign to the whole class. By using small groups, you can fit the needs of these two groups of students easily.

2) It Gives Your Precise Data

It is extremely hard to give each student in your class one-on-one attention on a regular basis. Small group instruction is the next best thing and has many of the same benefits.

Sitting down at a conference table and having your students do their work right in front of you, helps you respond to their needs a lot easier than circulating around the classroom.

You can see the thinking process of the students, how they do their work, and not just the finished project. Make sure you take notes of the learning styles and examples of how each student responds to their learning. This gives you great data for writing report cards.

3) It Builds Positive Relationships

It also has the added benefit of seeing where your students are having difficulty because some students simply won’t ask for help from the teacher.

These students often feel lost and are either afraid to ask for help. With the regular use of small group instruction, these children no longer need to feel embarrassed asking for help.

You are now providing one-on-one instruction to all the students in the class on  regular basis. As such, the students will see you as more approachable and won’t be as afraid to ask you for help when they really need it.

The students respond really well to this kind of instruction becomes it feels more personal. They can see that you want to help them with their work.

Come back next week for Teaching Tip Tuesday to see how I use these learning groups in my morning routine. 

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