Last June a colleague, Shannon Pope, a 4th grade classroom teacher, and I presented at a county wide conference called The STAT Institute. We worked with the math office to prepare a presentation that addressed the small group model during mathematics. The small group model enables educators to meet the needs of their children. The biggest question we would receive was "What are the other children doing when you are meeting with a small group?" and "How do you have time to plan everything?" During the presentation I discussed what small groups in math looked like, the various types of small group, and why small groups are best practice. Shannon shared her experiences with using the small group with her students and she shared how one could use the resources our county purchased to responsively plan small groups. Shannon shared how she adapted and uses M.A.T.H. rotation model with her students. To learn more about this rotation model, check out her blog: thepopeof4th.blogspot.com
When the school year began we offered a workshop to the teachers about using the small group model during mathematics. We broke into an intermediate session and a primary session. I shared using the Daily 5 model to plan for small group math instruction with the primary teachers: Math by Myself, Math with Something, Math with Technology, Math Writing, and Math with the Teacher. Shannon shared using the M.A.T.H. model with the intermediate teachers. The teachers in our school have been very responsive to using rotation models to plan for small group instruction. If you are interested in learning more check out the resources on the Padlet below.
This past Monday a colleague and I presented a writing professional development workshop for the classroom teachers and the special educators. We began the workshop together; the teachers analyzed the CCR Writing Standards to make sense of them. The teachers matched and glued the Titles for each of the Cluster Standards. Next, the matched the synthesis statement to each of the standards.
Next, we shared a Clarification Document that was created by snipping the Cluster Standards for K-5 from http://rt3nc.org/objects/standards/cclitmap/ela.html
The teachers worked together to reflect on the grade level expectations for their grade as well as the grade level prior and the grade level above them. The teachers found that the intermediate expectations were very rigorous and it was the job of the primary teachers to ensure that our students are prepared as a writers.
Later, we split the intermediate and primary teachers in two rooms. We each discussed why we write, how we teach writing, and when we teach writing. In the primary years, students learn to express their thinking first with pictures and with an oral explanation of the pictures. Generally the teacher models writing their thoughts down. Later in their development, they work on refining their thoughts orally. Once they are able to explain their thinking orally and they have an understanding of print, they are prepared to begin to write their thoughts using words. Students have experienced frequent modeling and feedback in the primary years. In grades 3-5 students should be able to write regularly and improve their clarity and the organization of their writing more independently.
Written expression is a difficult skill to acquire. It is not developed unless is it taught, students read regularly to analyze the craft of various authors, students have time to practice, they are given immediate feedback, and they learn to revise their work.
We then discussed that when we are teaching the writing standards, we should think about where we need our students to go and plan how we will get them there through mini-lessons and informal writing opportunities. The writing process should be scaffolded through modeling and should be consistent. Keep in mind that like adults, children generally do not have the stamina to write for the entire ELA block.
We worked on analyzing our upcoming units to identify the writing standards we need to teacher and we worked in grade levels to plan writing mini-lessons in a logical manner. We discussed the importance of using the clarification documents to create a grade level appropriate exemplar. We reflected on the importance of creating success criteria with our class so that they understand the expectations of the assignment. The teachers worked to long range plan and to leave space for responsive small group writers' workshop.
We also talked about the importance of providing time for students to informally write to practice and refine their writing skills. We came up with a list of ways students could become engaged in writing during a work on writing literacy workshop.
Interested in the resources?
Small group instruction occurs throughout the day because the students in our classroom communities learn in different ways and at rates that may vary. The small group model allows the teacher to provide responsive instruction to his/her students. Before small group occurs where teachers are able to successfully work with small groups of students; the students that are not working with the teacher must understand and have practiced expectations, routines, and procedures. Ensuring that the students are working on meaningful independent work that is engaging when the teacher is working with other students in essential in the learner-center classroom. If the teacher begins to pull small groups before the culture of learning has been established, learning will not take place. Preparing your students to work in small group is systematic in nature.
This is a great small group model to begin with in a classroom. This model allows for explicit teaching of collaboration and gives the students time to practice and refine their listening and speaking skills.
After students have learned to collaborate effectively without the teacher leading the discussion; this may be a good time for the rotation model to be introduced. This model enables the teacher to get to know their students' learning profile because they are available to "spy" on the students. It also leaves the teacher available to provide feedback on how the students are working together. The rotation model helps the students to get used working in a classroom where multiple activities are taking place. This small group model includes productive noise.
After students have learned to work together effectively and to work through productive noise, the teacher to should begin to plan lessons that are customized for their students' learning needs. As the culture of learning develops in the classroom, students will begin to take ownership of their learning style. This is when personalized learning occurs during workshop time.
The teacher can begin to remove themselves from the collaborative small groups because the students have had time to develop the skills to work together without an adult's intervention. The educator can meet with groups of students based on their academic needs. As the students are developing stamina the teacher may want to consider teaching mini-lessons between meeting with small groups. The students that are not meeting with the teacher are working on similar activities as they are developing self-efficacy and meta-cognitive skills.
Once students have taken ownership of their learning, the teacher is able to provide customized lessons for their students and the children have the opportunity to personalize their learning.
Teaching and monitoring each students' progress toward mastery of the College and Career Ready Standards is essential in ensuring that we do not create instructional gaps in our students' learning. The CCR Anchor Standards are designed as a document to provide clarity and consistency across states, counties, districts, and schools. This consistency and clarity helps to ensure that all students attending public schools are receiving an equitable education.
Teachers need to track their students progress in order to plan for instruction that is customized for students. We need to remember that we should not grade the journey but rather the final product. We can do this by tracking where our students are in their progression of mastering each standard. Documenting progress helps us to respond to our students' needs and to provide meaningful feedback to the children in our class.
In the photograph below the teacher is documenting the progress each student is making toward a reading standard. Based on formative assessment in whole group the teacher grouped the students into three groups. While the teacher was meeting with each group the students' progress was documented. After instruction the teacher found that the class should be grouped into four groups for the next day. The colored boxes show how the students will be grouped for day 2 of retelling stories orally. The notes at the bottom of the sheet show what the groups will do the next day. This particular teacher will ask the para-educator to reteach the group that needs additional support. The para-educator will record progress on this data collection sheet. The teacher will keep this standard tracking sheet in a section of a binder that is dedicated to CCR Reading Standard 2. When this standard is revisited the teacher will have an idea of where the students should be grouped.
Lesson Tiles are an online tool that our district uses to allow for customization when teachers are planning lessons for our students.
"Train teachers to call only on students who raise their hands and to build on correct responses to maintain a brisk classroom pace. This would enhance the self-confidence of already proficient students and minimize class participation and engagement among those who enter with lower proficiency." - Kim Marshall -"A How-to Plan for Widening the Gap"
Do you find that some of your students spend their days disengaged or unable to work with others? My colleagues and I got together as a Professional Learning Community to examine practical engagement strategies. We focused on the book "Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner" Each participant received a copy of the book and met in short sessions before school. We spent our meetings identifying, discussing techniques mentioned in the text and reflecting on how the techniques worked with our students. It was a huge success! The teachers came away with great engagement strategies and a stronger sense of collegiality.
Our district even provided an additional resource:
Teach Reflections of Strategies they used:
This year I worked with a group of teachers that were interested in reading the Daily 5 Second Edition by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. We decided to do a book study and to implement the strategies that we learned from The Sisters (Gail and Joan). It was a huge success! I think the biggest take away was setting up the structure in a deliberate way is not negotiable in an elementary classroom. Setting up the routines and procedures will enable students to work on meaningful independent tasks while the teacher works with small groups of children. If the students jump into activities without developing stamina they will not be successful, they will be off task, and very little learning will occur. There are so many amazing resources that support this program out there! Check out Pinterst.com.
The Sisters website:
Learning can only occur in a safe, risk free environment. Morning Meetings are a perfect way to develop relationships within any learning community. Students have a chance to get to know one another and teachers have the chance to get to know their students. Morning meetings create a community of respect within any classroom. The activities in Morning Meetings are driven by the teacher. Some educators use academic based activities on some days and social development activities on others.
Example of a Morning Meeting:
Keeping Ideas Fresh:
Hi! My name is Megan Haberkam. I am a S.T.A.T. teacher with Baltimore County Public Schools. I am passionate about teaching and learning. I am lucky enough to work with students and teachers on our constant journey of improving instructional practices and learning in our classrooms.