Making The Most Of Small Groups: Chapter 2

pumpkin letters

Today we are talking all about small group organization and chapter 2 of Making The Most Of Small Groups!   So, show of hands….who struggles with being organized?!  If you could see me, both of my hands are in the air!!!  So this is a necessary chapter for me!

Takeaway 1:   Don’t stack things on your guided reading or small group table!  

Clearly, I fail epically at this!  Yes, that’s a Sonic drink and yes, that’s peanut butter on the shelf.  For those times, when you know, I get hungry and need some peanut butter!   Don’t judge.  There are also Hershey Kisses back there to dip in the peanut butter.

small group organization

Here is my small group area when it’s fairly clean and organized:

small group in struction

The yellow caddy keeps pencils, crayons, dry erase markers and erasers ready for small group use.  The drawers behind the table keep other supplies and daily work organized (allegedly!)!

My small group area is set up so I can see all areas of the classroom so I can keep an eye on my students and make sure they’re on task and doing what is expected!  I love my table but it’s a little wide so I usually end up laying on the table to work with students!  I wish I had a skinnier table!  BUT recently I saw a teacher doing her small group instruction on the floor!!  So I’m very curious about that!

Takeaway 2:  the key to small group organization is find an area for materials and keep it organized!

That is something I’ve been working on this year and definitely feel like I’m on the right track! My small group organization mission started with this purchase:

small group instruction

I purchased this unit at Michaels for $65 when it was half off!   I like the colored drawers and I like how sturdy this thing is!   The top drawer is used for guided reading supplies like letter cards, cvc blending cards, magnetic letters, etc.  The second drawer is for math supplies like dice, counters, ten frame cards, etc.  The third drawer is for supplies such as crayons and markers and scissors, etc.

small group organization

The next four drawers are for my guided reading groups.  Each group is color coded.  Each group member has a folder that matches their group color.  The folders and books for that group are stored in the drawers!   This keeps them from being stacked on the table!

small group organization drawers

Here are some examples of what’s included in my drawers:

mini anchor chart stand

CVC Blending cards!  (Click the link to see these on TPT!)

These are our word building trays.  Cookie sheets from the Dollar Tree.  Spray painted and magnetic letters from the Target Dollar Spot.  (Note:  these letters are uppercase because that’s what I had on hand.  I will be switching them to lowercase this year!)  We use these for word work and word building activities during guided reading instruction!

Sitting on our table is also our mini anchor chart stand made from PVC pipe!  On this I have laminated cardstock that matches the colors of the groups.  This is where we write tricky words, sight words and vocabulary words from our books!

Click the image for directions on making this mini anchor chart stand!

Takeaway 3:  Don’t bother me!

Ya’ll, I’ve tried everything to get my students not to interrupt me during small group instruction.  I wore a hat…a tie…used a tap light on the table.  Nothing worked.  They just kept coming.  It reminds me of the show, The Walking Dead, where the zombies keep coming. Then it hit me.  Kids are so visual that they need a strong visual signal.   And since all kids know red means STOP, why not a stoplight?

small group stoplight

When this light is on my kids know to stop.  Ask friends for help.  Unless:  you’re hurt, you’re in danger or you’re dead.  If you’re sick you must go to the bathroom because if you get sick on Mr. Greg, he gets sick on you and we have a horrible situation!

For more on the stoplight, check out this post:

Takeaway 4:  A Binder

I love the binder setup described in this chapter!  Currently I  have one binder for lesson plans. I put my weekly plans and small group plans in this binder.  For anecdotal notes I write on Post It Notes that match the colors of the groups.  Attach the notes to the back of my small group plans!  After reading this chapter, I’m going to switch to a binder described in this chapter!   And finally, I  love that we have permission to dispose of lesson plans after a while!

Finally,  here are some questions for discussion:  (Leave your answers and pictures in the comments section on this post and you can also join the conversation on our Facebook page!)

  1.  Show us your small group instruction area!  

  2. Do you have a signal for students to know they can’t interrupt your small groups?

  3. What is an area of small group organization you want to improve?


small group instruction


Also make sure to visit Kindergarten Chaos for her post and thoughts on Chapter 2!

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