You will find our complete small group toolkit collection here: Small Group Toolkit
Planning your small group literacy instruction can be overwhelming when you begin teaching. Here we have put together a step-by-step guide to help you get started If you’re new at this, one book we reccomend is Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All by Debbie Diller. (Click on the blue title to purchase through Amazon – Amazon has it available at a price significantly below the cover price.)
We also suggest keeping all of your data in one spot. For this reason we have created a reading management binder. It includes pages to record scores, reading level conversion charts and more! This binder will make keeping all of the data you are gathering below in one spot easier! Here is the link: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/08/11/reading-management-binder/.
Before you begin instructing, you have to determine how you will organize your students into groups. In our classrooms we group by reading level. An important aspect of grouping by ability is making sure your groups are FLEXIBLE! This means that you assess and reassess frequently. No child is “stuck” in a group simply because he or she tested as a struggling reader at the beginning of the year. We determine where kids will be by completing running records at least once a month. Need tips on completing your running records, we have a post for you! Check it out here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/07/20/running-records/. If you need more information than we have provided, Marie Clay has a useful book on running records, it is titled Running Records for Classroom Teachers. Once you have completed your running records, you will need to determine the best way to group your students. Because these groups are flexible, you will want an easy way to move your kids around. Here’s what we have created:
The excel sheet is designed for you to enter your student names in each box. Just highlight the names we have and type your own. The two organizing pages can be printed in color and glued inside a file folder. Next, you will laminate your list of names and cut. Attach a piece of velcro to the names and the other side of the velcro on the organizing pages. Using velcro for this center will make it easy for you to move your groups around as frequently as needed. We use the circles like these Velcro Sticky-Back Hook and Loop Dot Fasteners with Dispenser, 0.625 Inches Diameter, Black, 75 Sets per Pack (90089) from Amazon. (Again, click on the blue title to purchase from Amazon.) Would you still like a paper copy? We have created one here… http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/06/21/rotation-planning-sheet/. (We use the file and the paper copy – we first group using the file as our tool and then record the information on the paper copy. This paper copy goes in our reading management binder so we have a record of how kids have progressed over the year.
Still unsure about how to group your kids? Here are some tips! You want to make sure that the book your students are reading during their small group instruction time is at their instructional level. This means that they should be able to score a 90 to 95% accuracy rate on a cold read of the book. Too much harder and your students will experience frustration which is not what you want. If you have a wide range of students in your classroom it might be necessary to put students into a guided reading group that is close and not exact. Or, you might to choose to have one group that is working on two similar books. For example, you might have 2 students who need to be at a D level and 2 students who need to be at an E level. You may not feel that the D students are ready to attempt the E and you know that the D is too easy for your E students. In a case like this you could find two books on the same topic. Maybe both groups will work on a frog book. This will give you some common vocabulary to work on but allow each student to be on their level. Obviously having two different levels in your groups is not ideal but some times it is necessary to give the kids what they need.
Complete your running records and set up your organization file…our next post will be on what to do the first day you meet with your students in small groups!