Small group vs whole group

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Feb 19, 2018

    Whilst perusing various educational articles, I have seen allusions to some studies (though I haven't found the studies themselves) that has a particular criticism of small group learning: while in many ways small group instruction is really the best, it is unfortunately nearly cancelled out by the fact that in most classrooms centers/free choice/what have you are occurring while the teacher meets with one group. Apparently the ideal is to have multiple teachers/aides teaching small groups all at once. It's not that the centers/free choice/etc. are bad, but they do mean students are also losing out on that critical instruction time.

    Thoughts on that? Has anyone seen the studies themselves?

    On a side note that just popped into my head, my administrator wants me to observe the small reading groups of a couple other teachers on my team. Now, these are awesome veteran teachers, but... they've confessed they haven't been doing very much in the way of small reading groups this year (due to another program in their rooms plus this just being one of those years.) I'm not judging them in the least, but it does put me in an awkward position and I don't know if it's my place to mention these great reading groups aren't actually happening with strong frequency.
     
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  3. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I love teaching reading whole group. I can keep my eye on everyone and know for sure that everyone is on task. I've had excellent results based on my observations and test scores. Last state test, every student, but two speds, exceeded.

    Another advantage is all the writing instruction can be based on the classroom literature. Everyone is familiar with the terms and goals of the writing lessons. I can explain that Beverly Cleary maintains suspense using technique A, and C.S. Lewis uses technique B. Let's try to write something using technique B. It's wonderful.

    Followup assignments need to take in the various ability levels to remediate the low and challenge the high. Sometimes I will pull a group on-the-fly for various reasons: remediation/acceleration.
     
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  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Feb 20, 2018

    Same.

    I use data to pull small groups while others are working quietly, but I'm not a big fan of centers. I find it leads to behavior issues, or learning time not being used effectively.
     
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  5. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    Feb 23, 2018

    I do small group during centers. My students have learned what the expectations are and the centers allow for further investigation. It's been working well so far. PLUS my principal is a huge advocate of centers so you would have to do them anyway.
     
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  6. Teacher234

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    Due to the different grade levels and curriculum outlines, I have to teach using small groups for all academic areas. Occasionally, for gap-filling activities or where the lesson is universal, I teach whole group.
    For circle time and class activity, I teach using whole group instruction.
    Centers is something that I can no longer incorporate as of right now.
     
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  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    If you're not doing centers, what is the rest of the class doing while you teach a small group?
     
  8. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Attending their grade-level small groups (within my classroom, of course)
     
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  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Feb 24, 2018

    Are they self-led or are there teachers? (I'm not sure what grade-level small groups within your classroom means).
     
  10. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Feb 24, 2018

    When I taught grade 1, I ran math centers so I could meet with small groups, but the center time was only 15-20 minutes of our 60 minute math block. The rest of the time was focused on a whole group lesson followed up with practice time.

    In ELA I met with a guided reading group or individual students while the rest of the class did silent reading. I've seen too much off-task behaviour in classes that run primarily on centers. Unless there are adults circulating to keep kids on task and troubleshoot problems, there seems to be a lot of wasted time. Plus the prep of always switching out centers. It never worked for me.
     
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  11. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Hi. Grade-level groups means each grade in my classroom is in a different group with a completely different curriculum. I try my best to make my class a little more universal, but for science and social studies.......I simply can not.
    Since I have a teacher aide in my classroom, I have the teacher aide run 1 group. All three groups have a teacher......I just end up running two groups at the same time. So, occasionally...the students work independently (but most of them can not work independently).
     
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  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    At my school, students are expected to engage in independent reading while the teacher meets with the small group. I'm not sure we'd even be allowed to do centers if we wanted to. It's so much less work on my end than when I worked at a school where Daily 5 was big.
     
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  13. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Feb 25, 2018

    I think this works better if it's a school wide policy. It can be very difficult to get kids to read quietly while a teacher is talking with a small group. I feel like many of my kids have never silently read much before. Just getting them to the point where they're reading quietly, with their eyes on their books, can take a while. Having talking in the room? Forget about it. With a lot of modeling, it could be possible.
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 25, 2018

    That's probably true. This starts midway through the school year in kindergarten at my district. So, by the time students get to me in third grade, most are able to sustain reading for at least 45-60 minutes. Although, with that said, we gradually build up to that length of time at the beginning of each school year. We don't expect them to read independently for an hour during the first week of school. Throughout the year, we use RAZ Kids or other programs and supports for students who have difficulty sustaining attention to reading for that length of time. The majority are either reading a book of their choice, reading an assigned book for their book club, writing about a book they are reading, writing a reflection about themselves as a reader, or meeting with me and/or their book club. It works out really well and allows teachers to focus planning on the actual instruction rather than spending a lot of time on creating and providing upkeep for centers or stations. It's also much quieter in the classroom, as the only talking permitted is for those meeting with their book club (which generally means those meeting at my table with me).

    It doesn't work perfectly, and I still don't feel like I am well-prepared for my book clubs most of the time (I simply just don't have enough planning time). Logistically, there are still a lot of flaws. However, it's so much more realistic and practical than trying to implement centers or Daily 5, like I did in previous schools where I worked. This is truly the first year that I've felt like I'm getting the hang of running a reader's workshop and teaching small reading groups. It's my second year at this school, so last year I was just trying to figure out how my personal preferences and teaching style fit in with the district expectations. It's all starting to come together this year.
     
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  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Feb 25, 2018

    Love this! All of it!

    Time in text :heavycheck:
    Choice of text :heavycheck:
    Shared text to create a community of readers :heavycheck:
    Engaging in authentic conversation about text :heavycheck:
    Writing about reading :heavycheck:
    Targeted small group work :heavycheck:
     
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  16. Kat.

    Kat. Companion

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    Feb 25, 2018

    I just wanted to say I LOVE you calling them book clubs!
     
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  17. BC teacher1977

    BC teacher1977 New Member

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    Mar 3, 2018

     
  18. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Good point. I think silent reading of student selected literature is critical to reading progress. It surprises me that some teachers have low expectations for the number of words read during this period.

    I have a student teacher taking over my class now, so my principal is having me sub while she meets with teachers. It's amazing to me that some teachers allow kids to talk, play quiet games and draw during "silent reading".

    My goal is for my fifth graders to read 10,000 words a day during reading instruction, silent reading and at-home reading. This doesn't happen by accident.
     
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  19. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Mar 6, 2018

    I run both whole group and small groups effectively in my classroom.
    The Daily 5 model works well for my students. It's all about building the stamina and giving independence. It will flop if there is too much teacher control.
     
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