We get lots of questions about our classroom design. Specifically, the how and why of each area of the classroom. Today we’re doing to show you our small group instruction area and give you some specifics on why we set up our small group instruction area the way we do and how it works.
Our small group area is where we do our guided reading groups, small group phonics, and small group math lessons. This is also where we do one on one work, one on one assessment with ESGI, and this year it became the hangout spot for my kids as they arrived in the morning.
Classroom Design: Small-Group Area
The placement of our small group area is vital because of the design of our classroom. Our classroom is a square shape which is nice. However, we do have this hallway that leads to our classroom door. This limits where we can put our small group table because I need to be able to see that hallway and the door. This year I decided to reduce the footprint of my small group area and move it to this location. This freed up a lot of space that could be returned to the students. It’s their classroom so I want my stuff to take up the least amount of space as possible!
Small-Group Area: How And Why
So let’s discuss our whole group area specifics!
We use a kidney table for our small group area. The only thing about this particular table that I’m not fond of is that it’s wide so it is awkward/uncomfortable to lean over to help the kids.
Let’s start with organization. This year one of my goals for small group instruction was organization. I needed to be more organized for small groups because I was spending too much time looking for materials/resources that it was taking away from instruction. The rainbow drawers behind the table have help tremendously. We have 2 sets of drawers: one is for small group materials and the other is for my teacher stuff.
You can see that the drawers are labeled. There are drawers for guided reading materials (leveled books, etc), math materials (counters, etc), writing supplies, and dry erase supplies. Now when we’re doing small groups I can just grab the drawer I need and keep going. No more looking all over for stuff.
On the cubbies behind the small group area you see some small rainbow drawers. These are for supplies such as golf pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
Also on the cubbies are our small group toolkits. These are individual boxes for the kids to use during small groups. Again, this is to keep things moving efficiently. Everything a student might need for a lesson can be found in the box. No more digging or running to get supplies. It’s all right there!
In the cubbies you see a place for planning materials. This is where I keep my lesson plan binder. This binder has my whole group lesson plans, small group lesson plans, anecdotal notes, data and groupings. I keep it all in one place so it’s ready to go for meetings and for my own personal planning. Again, efficiency. Everything I would need to plan groups or make groups is in that binder! You also notice a place for anchor texts and read alouds. This is where I put our read alouds for the week. No more searching for lost books!
On the floor behind my table are 2 sets of these drawers. Each drawer is labeled for a day of the week. This is where I keep any copies I need for each day. You might fight writing pages from Read It Up, research journals from our research projects, or sound sorts from our Beginning Sound Sorts. Again, it’s about efficiency. When it comes time for them to do their independent work, I can just open the drawer and find what I need.
The file holder is used for sorting student work. It includes file folders labeled with numbers. This makes sorting their work fast and easy and it’s always accessible for meetings and to send home!
Small-Group Area Seating
Let’s talk about our seating at the small group table. In the pictures, you see some small red chairs. We used those for years, until this year when we replaced them with these drafting stools.
Now, the height was a bit much for the table, so we simply used bed risers to rise our small group table up. This worked beautifully because now the table is at a better height for me and the kids. The stools twist so the kids can even get some wiggles out if needed! (CLICK THE IMAGE TO GET THEM ON AMAZON!)
As for teacher seating, I ditched the traditional office chair for a doctor stool! After seeing a doctor use one in the emergency room I realized it would be a great teacher stool. And it really forces me to work on my posture! Plus, I can zoom all over the classroom on that thing if I need to (which came in handy after my knee surgery!)
Finally, there are two management tools in our small group area: the stoplight and our interruptions poster! The stoplight is a lamp without a shade and a red light bulb. When the red light is on it means STOP and you can’t interrupt Mr. Greg. The interruptions poster helps them remember the rules!
For details on how we run small groups, make sure to watch our small group webinar. When you watch this webinar you will receive an EXCLUSIVE offer for an EXCLUSIVE SMALL GROUP TOOLKIT that is only available with the webinar! CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE OUR WEBINAR REPLAYS!
For more information on our classroom, check out these posts:
For resources mentioned in this post, check out these creations:
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