This school year my school & entire county made major changes to our reading block. In the past, we had homogenous classes and taught reading and writing as a whole group for the entire block. But this year, we have heterogeneous classes and are expected to teach a short shared reading lesson and then pull small homogenous groups.
I have fallen in LOVE with teaching in small groups!
I know my students so much better in terms of their individual strengths and weaknesses. Small groups allow me to meet the students’ needs much quicker and more thorough then ever before.
While I pull small groups, my other students do Daily 5 rotations. I do not run Daily 5 exactly how the sisters explain it in their book. I had to make some changes to work for my class and my county’s curriculum.
(A blog post will be coming soon on Daily 5 in my room!)
I have a horseshoe table that my school purchased for me this year. This summer Lyndsey from A Year of Many FIrsts took a trip to Ikea, where we purchased the stools purchased below. We don’t just use them at our small group table but around the room as well!
Pictured below are my small group signs. These are always posted and help the kiddos keep track of which group they are in.
I used the full-page group signs for keeping track of my reading, phonics, and fluency groups. First, I print and laminate the signs. Since groups are flexible, I need to be able to adjust them frequently. I use dry erase markers to write on them! Three signs are for reading groups (in the first picture), one sign for my fluency group (in the second picture), and one sign for my phonics group(in the second picture). I use magnetic clips to keep them up and use clothespins to attach them to each other. I didn’t want to permanently attach them incase the number of groups I use changes.
Just about everyday I pull each of my small groups, typically for about 20-25 minutes. Sometimes the times fluctuate depending on what the group is working on, if any students are absent, or if students are pulled by the speech teacher, special education teacher, occupational therapist, or ESOL teacher. Below are my fluency and phonics groups. These groups change often based on the skills being focused on or observations made.
I meet with these groups in addition to small groups. Not every day but when it fits in. Sometimes these groups are given something specific to work on during a Daily 5 rotation.
When reading groups are not in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like. Pictured are my three reading group baskets, my notes binder, timer, and to the left my Buddy Binders which I frequently get the kiddos started on as they leave small group. (This is an activity they can do during Daily 5.)
I used half-page group signs that I created. I backed them on construction paper, laminated them, punched two holes, and used O-rings to attach to the baskets.
While reading groups are in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like.
I use the reading group baskets to organizing materials I will be using with each group in the next few days. These help keep me sane and organized!
Here’s a peek:
Currently my Turtles are using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack.
They work on the comprehension questions & extension activities in this pack while applying skills & strategies.
Currently my Frogs are also using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack.
They primarily work on the comprehension questions in this pack while applying skills & strategies.
Currently my Dragonflies are using my Print & Teach Pack.
This pack includes passages at three different levels- approaching, on-grade, and beyond. My Dragonflies are currently working in the approaching level text. This pack has been a huge help in my room since it includes all of the of the common core standards for informational text. My Frogs and Turtles haven’t began to use this yet, but when they finish Donavan this is what we are moving into!
The picture below shows the shelf underneath the ledge behind my horseshoe table. This is where I store some of my go-to materials I use on a daily basis.
The light blue bin is pictured below. I use the markers and scissors when we build vocabulary on the sentence strips in the picture above. The index cards I keep on hand incase I need to add any word cards to student’s rings of words to practice. The red pens and erasable pens are for “special” days in small group. They are a big deal for my kiddos so we use them sparingly as a motivator! The dry erase markers and erasers are used occasionally on laminated passages and frequently on white boards.
Below are the student supply bins on the shelf behind the horseshoe table. Students know that these are their bins to go in whenever they need supplies in small group if I don’t put them out for them.
During small group I take frequent notes on the students’ strengths and weaknesses in fluency, applying strategies, word attack skills, writing, and following directions.
I use quarter-page group signs for organizing independent work for my three reading groups. By having the groups turn in their work in separate bins, grading is much easier! I can grab a stack from a basket and have all of the same activity together. This makes it so convenient!
In small groups this year I have found myself using some packs I have previously created and also felt the need to create more to work on specific skills. Pictured below are the resources I have used or have ready to use this year.
To download my reading group signs and for more information on how I use these in my room and resources I use in small groups,