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Small Group Instruction

Does small group instruction stress you out? Does it seem like extra work? I get it. But did you know that small group instruction is highly effective, and years of studies and research show that learning engagement increases by 50%? The same studies show that disruptive behaviors decrease by 50%.

What is small group instruction?

small group instruction ideas and resources

Small group instruction occurs when the teacher works with 3-5 students. The groups target the skills those students need to focus on and meet the needs of those students. This is all based on data and observation.

small group instrcution

How do you group students for small group work?

Group students together in groups by what skills they need to practice. These small groups are NOT the same as center groups. I focus on strategies and skills the kids need and make groups based on that. These groups change frequently based on the skills we teach and how students respond to that material. Again, these groups are formed based on data and observation. I use ESGI for our data and form groups based on anecdotal notes and observations. Just make sure your groups are fluid so students aren’t trapped in the same groups all year! Unfortunately, I can’t meet with every group every day. I do meet with every group every two days. And I see my students who need more support more often.

small group teaching

I also look at our benchmark data and look for the kids who in yellow tier and make sure to meet with them more frequently as well. Why? Because they’re making good, steady progress so I want to make sure I’m giving them support to keep that steady momentum going.

What do I teach in small groups?

We teach the skills the kids need! In our groups, we follow the gradual release model. I do, we do, you do. I model the skill (which has already been taught to the whole group as well), and then we practice together. Finally, the kids work on the skill on their own. While they’re working, I’m monitoring and supporting them. If they struggle, we go back to the “we do” step and practice together.

teaching small groups in kindergarten

Our small groups always start with a quick review. This is usually sounds but can also be letters, oral blending, or segmenting. And then we move to the skill. Finally, we end with decodable text or dictation.

Reading Groups

Here’s what we might work in our reading groups:

  • sounds and letter recognition
  • letter formation
  • decoding words
  • word mapping
  • dictating words
  • word chaining
  • decodable text
  • sentence dictation
  • word building

Math Groups

Our math small groups typically focus on the current skill we’re working on but I also pull math small groups to work on foundational skills such as counting.

number recognition

  • counting
  • one-to-one correspondence
  • addition and subtraction
  • comparing numbers
  • number formation

Small Group Instruction: Materials and Organization

Small group materials are the same things we use for whole group.

  • dry erase markers
  • whiteboards
  • magnetic letters
  • letter cards
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • felt tip markers
small group area in the classroom

To keep myself organized, I use my teacher binder, small group lesson plan template and, note pads from Berteau and Co.

small group instruction organization

Small Group Resources

For more ideas and resources, check out these posts:

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