Saturday, April 21, 2012

Loving small group instruction

Since I started blogging back in July, I have been trying all kinds of new things. I'm sure I say this weekly on my blog. But it's true. I've been introduced to so many new ideas and been inspired to give things a try. I started the year by really working on my literacy centers. I got Debbie Diller's Literacy Work Station book. I adapted some of her ideas and started making it work for me. I also tried to do Guided Reading. I've been struggling with these concepts since I've started teaching. I've never been able to get either one to work for me. This year was the first year I had really gotten literacy work stations or centers to work for me. But Guided reading just wasn't happening. I was starting to work with my kids some one on one and I enjoy reading with them and working on what they needed. In January, I introduced Daily 5. Well actually I just introduced Read to Self. We built up our stamina. Now I was struggling with doing guided reading, literacy center and daily 5. Oh and by the way I wanted to introduce math work stations. I read a blog post from Mrs. Patton's Patch about how she wasn't doing guided reading anymore but reading conferences. This stuck with me and helped me to finally be able to let go of something. But I still was having trouble getting everything I wanted to do done. Before spring break, I really looked at my schedule and completely reworked it. I decided to do my phonics/word study lesson in groups rather than whole group. While I've only done this one week, I can say I love it. I feel like I'm slowly making things work for me. Here's my new schedule:
7:50-8:20 - Morning work and bathroom break. As I check their work, they start going to read to self.
8:20-8:35 - Read to self - During this time I meet with several of my kids. I also have a list for my assistant to read with too. I worked this into my lesson plans. I made a plan of what kids to meet with on each day. My goal is to have them read to someone every other day.
8:35-8:50 - Morning meeting and calendar
8:50-9:15 - Whole group reading and phonemic awareness. We practice a poem everyday and do some kind of activity with that.
9:15 - Snack and go over letters and sounds.
9:20-9:45 Literacy centers and small group work - During this time I am lucky because I only have 10 kids in my class. My ELL students are in their pull out class. I have 6 out of 16 students out. But next week I'll get to see how this works with a larger group. So my group is split into 2 groups. One is approaching and on level. I work on what is in the reading basal usually with this group for phonics. The other group is  my above level group.
Here's an example of what I did with each group on the day we introduced the letter v. My students for the most part know all their letters and sounds because we go over them all everyday. The first group we read a book about v, worked on a circle map of v and then did the workbook page together. The second group we added to the circle map of v and then they made a little book. On each page they wrote a sentence and used a v word.
On another day, we sorted different words and wrote sentences with them. This was great for differentiation because I used cvc words from on and approaching group and then some harder words for the other group. I was also able to use this time to work with them on writing.
 9:45-10:00 - We work on writing. I would like to meet with kids during this time but it's not happening right now.
10:00-10:15 - Sight word practice
10:15 -10:50 we do math. This is my next small group area to work on. I want to do a whole group lesson and then during their math station time meet with some students on specific skills. But I haven't gotten it together with that.
We're technically a half day kindergarten. So most of my instruction is done by this time. But I only have 3 kids that leave at 12:30. The rest of my class stays in the extended day program. I use the afternoon time to do a lesson with my ELL students. I usually do the phonics lesson I did with the on and approaching group but try to increase the vocabulary part of the instruction.
I am in love with this! I feel like I'm working really hard all day long but it's so rewarding. I am so glad that I'm laying the groundwork for this method for next year when I'm in first grade with these kids. I feel like I'm really meeting my kids where they are at.
I'm also so excited I finally found a way to make this all work for me. I think that's the biggest part of incorporating new ideas. There is no one way to do things. You have to take a little bit here and there and eventually it works for you and your class.
What is something that you've made work for you? How do you do small group instruction in your class?
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  1. Change is slow, but doesn't it feel good when things start to click?

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. You could work in the book clubs with your small groups work :) You sound like me with all the experimenting!

    Fun in Room 4B