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.
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.