Whole class vs small groups?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 773 Miles Away, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009

    So I was coached this year in a different style of teaching math (different than what I have done when I was student teaching I should say). Essentially it is 100% small group instruction.

    Each day I meet with 3 seperate groups - levelled. If you're not with me (group consist of 5 or 6 kids) then you're either working on independent work or you're doing a math center... and we rotate every 20 minutes or so

    What I find frustrating, however is that it forces me to teach smaller chunks of a lesson even when I would rather spend more time on it, especially if its complex... and i'm weighing the pros and cons.

    I see the value of teaching whole class because that gives a huge block of time to teach a concept. If I am doing small group rotations, then naturally I have to reduce my lesson to no more than 20 minutes.. because I have to do it 3 times during my math block.

    Do you teach whole class or in small groups? How do you feel about the issues I have mentioned.
     
  2.  
  3. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,729
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 8, 2009

    The human brain cannot take more than about 15-20 minutes of instruction, lecturing, learning, etc. After 15-20 minutes, the brain gets exhausted and will naturally tune out. That's why 15-20 minutes of small group time is perfect.
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    164

    Jan 8, 2009

    cite?
     
  5. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,729
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 8, 2009

    Well, I've learned this from psychology classes I've taken throughout college, but here's one website if you would like to read more about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_span Of course it varies by individual, but 15-20 minutes if the general rule of thumb for how much an individual can take of instruction, lecturing, etc. before their mind begins to wander.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    164

    Jan 8, 2009

    Yes, but there's evidence that attention span used to be considerably longer. I suspect it's worthwhile to push it up slightly, at least enough to be sure you're not creating an effect rather than responding to one. Just a thought.
     
  7. LATechTeacher

    LATechTeacher Companion

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009

    I do my reading rotations that same way, but I teach a whole group lesson first. I teach the whole group lesson and give them a base, and then I break them into small groups and elaborate on what I taught. I really like small groups! I would like to teach my math this way too, but I don't have enough time! Do you think you would like it better if you taught a whole group lesson first to introduce it, and then break into the small group instruction time?
     
  8. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009


    Honestly I'm not really sure. On the plus side I definitely notice the behavior effects of smaller group instruction... I hardly have any complaints regarding students paying attention - so the lesson does go more smoothly.

    The gripe I have is that I am constantly working against time... teaching essentially the same lesson 3 times (though altered based on their level) is quite trying... and I'm always looking at the clock to make sure we finish in time. (we switch next door after math 3 days a week so I can't really extend the lesson if need be). Plus I feel the pressure of how much curriculum I have to cover before testing begins (MCAS :eek:) and I feel I need to hustle more and cover more faster...

    Adding in an initial whole group lesson, then breaking into small groups, would also add to my time crunch.
     
  9. Deeena

    Deeena Cohort

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009

    I teach a whole group lesson for about 15 minutes, then move into small group instruction. I am also pressed for time during math since my class switches for other subjects. I have found that rather than doing "rotations" or "centers" I give my students a menu with various math "tasks" that they must complete within the week. I give each group a menu of activities that must get completed during the week (sometimes independently, other times with a partner). The menu of activities is leveled to meet each group's need. For example, my advanced students have an extension project to complete as well as some challenging word problems. During this time I pull groups. I try to meet with the lowest students every day and the higher students I try to meet with a couple times a week. I have found this to be helpful because the students can work at their own pace and they can choose the order in which they want to complete their tasks. I hope this helps!
     
  10. ute.girl

    ute.girl Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 8, 2009

    I like teaching math in small groups.

    I actually teach for about 10 minutes to the whole class.
    Then the kids are broken into the 3 groups. I feel like I can respond to each individually this way. This is in a 28+ child class. I might feel differently if I was in smaller classes.
     
  11. firstgradeteach

    firstgradeteach Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2009

    I teach math using a combination of whole group and small group.

    During our morning work the students complete a calendar, write a daily number sentence, complete a daily pattern, daily clock problem, and daily money problem. Then we go over it on the overhead and I model how to solve the problem, then we complete a graph and add tallies for birthdays and teeth lost.
    This covers a lot of daily practice with many skills.

    During math I typically teach a short mini- lesson and the kids complete a short activity. (About 15 minutes or less)

    Then the students complete seatwork. (usually a fact sheet)
    They move to math centers. (I teach small groups based on skill need)
    They peer tutor with math flashcards. (I quiz the students that pass the cards with their partner and give them their new set of flashcards.)

    I would love to teach three mini- lessons that are leveled each day but I don't have enough time and that would take a long time to plan.

    I give a pre-test every two weeks. I place students in groups that they need to work on a specific skill. This way, some students might be in multiple groups. The students that do very well on the pre-test are taught enrichment items. These groups are very short and only 5-10 minutes long. I typically meet with 2-3 groups a day.
     
  12. firstgradeteach

    firstgradeteach Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2009

     
  13. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2009

    I do something similar to keep the kids who are not in my group at the moment busy. I give every kid a packet of independent work to do for the week... they can tackle as many pages as they want each day but it must be finished by the end of the week (or else its homework). My groups for each day vary though based on a preassessment...

    What kind of extension projects do you give your students? I have about 5 students who are quite bright and need to be challenged more because they are always finishing their work early... I teach 4th grade though, but perhaps I'll get inspired by some projects you have created
     
  14. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 9, 2009

    p.s. does anybody teach with Everyday Math? That's what I use... and I feel like each day is such a bulky lesson... simply packed with stuff (especially now since we're working on decimals!) Hence why I always feel pressured to keep moving because there is always so many huge concepts to cover before the end of the year!
     
  15. kacieann

    kacieann Companion

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    247
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2009

    I teach math in whole group and small group. I normally teach whole group on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to be able to introduce and build on concepts. I teach small group on Tuesday and Thursday. I feel as though my small group on Tuesday and Thursday allows me to have a deeper understanding of which children I need to reteach.
     
  16. Deeena

    Deeena Cohort

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2009

    One of the math projects my students will complete when they get back is a "Room Make-over Project." The students will go home and measure their bedrooms and I will teach them how to draw it to scale. Then they will have a make believe budget that they will use to make-over their room with. They will have to buy furniture, paint, decorations, etc. and stay within the budget. They will also make a graph of their spending, keep a spreadsheet of their purchases, and then make a poster displaying what they have purchased and their graph. They will use the Internet and some various catalogues I have collected to help them with this.
     
  17. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    7,075
    Likes Received:
    15

    Jan 11, 2009

    Last year, I did a combination. I taught for about 20 minutes to the class, then we'd rotate through centers.
    However, this year I only do whole group instruction. My class will not work on their own. They fight and argue. Therefore, we can't do that. I teach for 10-40 minutes depending on the lesson. This includes practice and partner activities. Then, they have independent time. If time allows, the last 15 minutes of my math block, they will work on a center (I try to do 5 centers a week and they do one each day, however, with some chapters, we do not have time). During this time, I do not work with a group, but walk around monitoring.
    I DO work with 2 or 3 kids who struggle while the rest of the class is working individually.
     
  18. TeachCheri2008

    TeachCheri2008 Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2008
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 11, 2009

    Small group vs Whole group

    I am a pre service teacher and I will student teach this Fall. I was wondering if you could help explain to me what your centers are, how often you change them up, and how you set them up?

    I was also wondering what grade you teach?
     
  19. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Messages:
    1,481
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 11, 2009

    We use Everyday Math, too, and you're right, the lessons ARE very bulky! There's about a million and a half things to do each day. I want to do math centers but I struggle because it is a very full schedule. I thought about doing the lesson as a whole-group mini-lesson, then the practice page and math boxes as independent work, and then finally a related game (from the series) as the center.

    Does anyone else who does math centers use EDM?
     
  20. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    7,075
    Likes Received:
    15

    Jan 11, 2009


    5th grade.
    A center can vary greatly. I pull things from everywhere. Lots of games- Fraction war, memory type things, etc...

    I put the directions and materials in either a file folder or a big envelope. Then, each group has a container with basic materials- counters, dice, etc...

    I usually keep the same centers for 2 or 3 weeks, since they only do each center once a week.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Mrs. K.,
  2. sevenplus
Total: 383 (members: 4, guests: 365, robots: 14)
test