1 Planner for Organizing Small Groups
30 minute small group instruction is important in primary years. We target the specific needs through this individualized instruction. However, many of us feel overwhelmed by small groups in person let alone tackling the organization and timing over the web. I am here to tell you it does not have to be hard or feel daunting. You can do what you do in class, just over the web. Let me teach you how in a 6 minute read.
Before You Get Started...
Like with all planning, you will need to make some choices about the following:
1. How many groups you can manage a day with out BURNOUT! (I did 4-5 groups a day and tutored ....I was TOAST! (I do not advise this at all!
2. Bucket you students based on skills (you know how to do this already). When we have groups of students who are not in the same skill set, it is hard to implement focused and strategic instruction and you will not be able to meet all the needs of the varying learners!
3. Build a schedule where your highest need students have the most touch points with you! While we all want to spread our time evenly across our classrooms with all of our kids, time and maybe I should say face to face time is so much. more valuable in virtual learning environments. Your highest priority is to see your students who are struggling the most or who are behind more often than those who are pushing on to higher level skills. Remember those students who can do the 50meter butterfly are in a very different place than students who are still trying to master treading water!
Depending on your time constraints, your highest students may see you once a week, maybe every other week or not at all outside of whole group instruction. As I write those words, my teacher guilt hits me square in the chest, but during time of e learning, it is so important that we bring students up to speed for their current grade level and hope that our small group, tier 2 instruction leaves students ready for the coming school year!
Making An Actual Plan
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The planning part is very easy to do using these tools (tools you already have):
1. Scope and Sequence for skills (remember, I base all my work in the Science of Reading, so I am doing small groups based on known and unknown phonemes.
2. Current student data! Remember groups should have similar needs and similar skills! Groups that are too different will not be focused or effective!
3. Use your IA (instructional assistant) or intervention teacher! Reach out and utilize your additional teaching staff to do small groups alongside you at a designated time or during a time that is convenient for them! The idea is that all hands are on deck to support the students. The more opportunities for small group instruction the more opportunities to improve outcomes.
When planning remember that a plan DOES NOT contain several skills, but DOES include the following:
1. Review of prior day's skills
2. A phonics focus of a phoneme or a spelling pattern
3. Introduction of a new 'red word' or sight word (a word that is not decodable)
4. Application of introduced skills by writing sentences
5. Reading to contextualize newly learned skills and concepts through the use of decodables, sight word phrases or any text that highlights the day's work! I use BOBs books and write my own content!
Some User Friendly Definitions:
DECODABLE WORDS/RED WORDS:
A decodable word is a word that students can solve using the sounds and spelling patterns that they know. That is to say if a student knows the sounds c,o,a,d,t, they will be able to decode cat, or tad, or cod or doc, but maybe they would not be able to work through words with sounds outside of those five or any red words.
Red words are words that break sound rules like the word one or once, in both these words, the o, e break sound rules the 'e' is not magical and the 'o' does not make a long or short sound it says /w/. I refer to red words/sight words as rule breakers, they simply break the rules of their phoneme or do not fit into a sound spelling pattern that is explicitly taught. When I frist began working with OG or a SoR(Science of Reading) approach and pedagogy, I was absolutely mind blown to learn that there are ONLY 20 true sight words in Kindergarten. 🤯
Phonics as defined by Google, is the method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters in the alphabetic writing system. So the thought is that if we explicitly teach children the phonemes (sounds that each letter makes) or the sounds that groups of letters make (for example digraphs), students will, in time become stronger and more fluent readers.
Blending is fluently reading through groups of sounds in a cvc pattern. A blending board is a tool. It shows beginning, middle, and end sounds on cards. Using the cards a teachers can change sounds in each position, practice blending with a particular sound, or using all sounds to help students blend and read sounds fluently. A board can show real words and non-sense words.