Small group instruction the why the when and the how
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Small Group Instruction The Why, the When, and the How. Brandi Hendrix Language Arts Teacher MMS [email protected] Purpose of this training. To give an overview of the laws that are changing schools nationwide To explain when small group instruction should occur in a regular ed classroom

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Small Group InstructionThe Why, the When, and the How

Brandi Hendrix

Language Arts Teacher


[email protected]

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Purpose of this training

  • To give an overview of the laws that are changing schools nationwide

  • To explain when small group instruction should occur in a regular ed classroom

  • To outline the structure that is needed in a classroom to do small group instruction

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Jim Walsh’s 4 Quadrant Analysis

SDI=Specially Designed Instruction

WBFWR=Way behind for whatever reason

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Components of RtI

  • Universal Screening (Academics and Behavior)

  • Tier System

  • Research based interventions

  • Progress Monitoring

  • Student Support Team (Pass Team)

  • Fidelity Monitoring

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Positives of RtI

  • No discrepancy between IQ and performance is required to receive interventions

  • Teachers are given research based interventions to improve student learning

  • Schools really can be a place where ALL students learn!

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What does this mean for me?????

  • Students come to us with gaps (for whatever reason) and we must be prepared to handle those gaps within our classrooms

  • Whole group instruction does not always fit the needs of our high achievers or our low achievers

  • Differentiated instruction needs to occur in all classrooms

  • AYP, or adequate yearly progress, applies to all but 2% of our school population (this is basically our Life Skills students)

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What does this mean for me?????

  • Clear connections need to be made between what we are teaching and what we are assessing

  • We need to have a plan in place to reteach skills not mastered

  • We are going to have to be master record keepers

  • By the year 2013, all students are to be reading on grade level

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Things to think about…

  • Only 8-12% of the population are auditory learners; however 90% of teaching is auditory

  • It takes 14-20 practice times before the brain learns a new skill

  • 90% of Kindergartners think they can read, write, and draw; by second grade it drops to 18%

  • In order to reach more of our learners, we need to

    • Verbally - tell them what they need to know

    • Visually – show them with pictures or examples

    • Kinesthetic – provide hands on activities

      (Randi Whitney, The Writing Academy)

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You should pull a small group when…

  • Students are not successful in the whole group setting OR when students are bored with what the rest of the students are doing

  • Students have basic skill deficits that negatively impact their new learning

  • English Language Learners lack vocabulary needed to be successful

  • Students need extra help before they become successful independently

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When to pull small groups

  • Following a mini lesson

  • During independent practice

  • Silent reading time

  • Basically any time that you are not teaching to the whole class

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Things to remember when planning for small group instruction

  • There needs to be a clear learning goal for small group instruction

  • Small groups need to be flexible and change based on students’ needs

  • Small groups work best with 3 to 4 students

  • Small group time must be sacred in your class

  • Allow for 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time

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Procedures are the most important component of small group instruction

  • Procedures need to be posted in the room

  • Procedures need to be practiced and perfected before you pull your first real group

  • Students need to know what to do if they have a question

  • Students need to know what to do if they finish early

  • Transition routines are crucial

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What to do if you have a question instruction

  • Try to figure it out on your own

  • Quietly ask a classmate

  • Write your name on the board

  • Skip what you do not understand and continue working

  • Read your AR book until your question is answered

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What to do if you finish early instruction

  • Make sure that you have done your best work by checking your answers

  • Read your AR book

  • Respond in topic journals

  • Complete a grammar brick

  • Work on homework

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Class Expectations instruction

  • Everyone must work

  • Do not disturb others

  • Always do your best

  • Don’t interrupt the small group

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Organization instruction

  • Always have your daily schedule posted, noting when you are going to pull your group

  • Students should know who is going to the group and what they need for group work before you call the group

  • Small groups should be recorded in lesson plan so that you have documentation of tier 1 interventions

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Obstacles instruction

  • Grades

  • Time for planning

  • Time for instruction

  • Behavior

  • Management

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Grades instruction

  • Grades should drive our instruction not punish students

  • Diversity does have a negative effect on grades

  • There is no set expectation for the number of grades that you have to take

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Grades instruction

  • Esembler lets you exempt students from assignments so that you can grade different assignments for different students

  • You have the option of taking several grades on an assignment to show failure and mastery grades

  • Have students grade themselves—they are usually harder on themselves than we are

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Time for planning instruction

  • Collaboration is key to successful planning

  • Find at least 1 person that you can plan with

  • Use data in your planning

  • Break it up---have one person plan the lesson for whole group and the other plan for small group

  • Be flexible; there is not a one size fits all plan for small groups

  • Have a Six Week Plan

  • Lesson plan template

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Time for instruction instruction

  • Mini Lessons really help with finding time

  • Remember the “I do, we do, you do” format; it is during the “you do” step that it is easiest to pull a small group

  • Try to have set days that you do things, like do reading skills on MTW and writing on THF or something like that

  • Make sure activities measure what has been taught

  • Use cooperative Learning groups *(grouping technique)

  • Start small; only pull one group per day in the beginning

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Behavior instruction

  • Students usually misbehave for 2 reasons

    • They do not understand how to do something

    • They want attention

      Small group instruction solves both of these because students receive instruction and attention without having to disrupt the whole class

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Behavior instruction

  • Remind class of expectations before you pull your group

  • When working with group, jot down students who are not meeting expectations

  • Meet with those students independently after group is over and address behavior

  • Use positive peer pressure to keep students on task (give reward to whole class if everyone stays on task)

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Management instruction

  • Warm up at the beginning (5-10 min max)

  • Timer needs to be your best friend

  • Students need to know what to do with work that they finish

  • Always allow time at the end of group to sum up what skill they worked on (this is helpful at the end of class as well)

  • Spreadsheet of skills to be mastered so you know what to cover in small groups

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What I have learned instruction

  • Even though you are not standing in front of your class ALL of your students are still learning

  • Your class is not always going to be quiet

  • Students will try to get away with stuff while you are working with your group

  • You will feel out of control in the beginning

  • You will have less time at your desk

  • Students will want to be in your small group

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What I have learned instruction

  • Your low students will gain more confidence

  • You will have less failures

  • Attitudes will be better

  • My timer is my best friend

  • Planning is harder, but teaching is so much easier

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Groundhog Day instruction

  • The groundhog is the only critter with his own holiday, a day based on the tale that he can forecast the start of spring. When he wakes from his long winter sleep, the groundhog crawls out from his warm burrow. It is said that if the sun is out, he will see his shadow, startle, and scurry back down his hole. This means winter will last six more weeks. But if clouds cover the sky, and he sees no shadow, he will trot off to search for food. This means that winter is at an end, and a warm spring will soon begin.

  • A groundhog named Punxsutawny Phil is the most famous furry forecaster. On February 2nd of each year, crowds gather early in the morning on a wooded hill in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania. Men of the Groundhog Club, dressed in tuxedos and top hats, stand next to a tree stump with a small door in it----Phil’s man-made home. One of the men knocks on Phil’s door with a cane to wake him, opens it up, and pulls him out. The man holds Phil up to his ear. Phil’s nose quivers as he “tells” the man if he saw his shadow or not, and the man shouts the news for all to hear.