assessment · data · ELA · guided reading ·

Shuffling Those Small Groups

Y’all.  Can I just first say that I get abnormally impressed with myself when I blog twice in one day?  Like it’s probably a little ridiculous.

From my excellent IG and Twitter creeping, I can tell that many teachers are preparing for their first round of Parent/Teacher Conferences (PTCs), or just recently made it through.  If you just made it through, way to go!  Self-five!  You did it!  Conferences can be hard, but you nailed it!  If you’re still preparing, you’ve totally got this and you’re going to do a great job!

I know that when I was in the classroom, PTCs generally occurred around the same time as a data cycle, which means that generally when we were prepping for conferences we were also assessing like mad(wo)men.  And generally, when we have new data we use it to make sure that we’re still grouping students appropriately and meeting the needs of all our kids.  I’m here today to briefly talk to you about how you go about creating your small groups.

Now, when I first started teaching I felt really strongly that students needed to be ability grouped and that the groups students used for work stations (LWS) had to be the same groups they used to come to my table.  If that’s how you feel comfortable, great.  However, I want to tell you about how I group kids now that has totally changed the way I manage LWS.  The short version is this:  I put students into rotation groups but those rotation groups DO NOT match the groups of students who come to my table.  When I started as a teacher, I thought this was stupid because I was doubling the work of group making.  However, as an older and wiser (ha) teacher I am 100% in favor of having rotation groups and teacher table groups not match.  Let me tell you why.  First, when you ability group your rotations you’re essentially putting your highs, lows, and mediums in the same group, so all the lows are together, all the highs are together, etc.  What I LOVE about having unique rotation groups is that you can mix up the levels of students within the groups, which is great because you can split any potential talkers/misbehavers, and you can also make sure to have some kids that others can ask if they forget what the activity is.  Second, having different rotation groups means that there’s never a work station that’s totally empty.  It also makes it more likely that students are getting to every work station in a week.  Lastly, the thing that’s great about having rotation groups and teacher table groups is that you can call an audible and flex group students if the need arises.  So if you notice that there are 4 students who need work on answering two-part questions, but who might not be on the same level, you can call them to your teacher table without really disrupting the flow of your rotation groups.

When I ran work stations with different rotation groups and teacher table groups, I used pocket charts to indicate rotations.  I had cards with group names and members on it, as well as cards that showed the work station.  Here’s an example of what the rotation group cards looked like.

And underneath the group card would be the 3 cards showing their work stations for that day.  So, for example, underneath pumpkins it might show word work, read to others, work on writing.  Here’s an example of the work station cards.

I planned for this to be more concise than this actually was, but I just really feel strongly about having different rotation and teacher table groups.  :/  If you try it let me know if you love it, too.  And if you don’t maybe I can help you regroup your students so you do love it.

Happy Novvember!


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