Small Group Instruction Prepared by Andrea Hnatiuk
Research Says Small Group Instruction… gives each student a chance to receive the reading instruction he/she deserves. positively affects self-concept and academic achievement. shows student growth in self- esteem. allows children to learn more rapidly under conditions of greater instructional intensity than they learn in a typical classroom setting.
Research Says Small Group Instruction… allows children to scaffold information and the teacher to scaffold instruction that finely tunes the interactions between the teacher and the child that support the child in accomplishing a task that he/she could not do without the teacher’s help. allows teachers to accommodate the diverse needs of their students. enables the teacher to adapt the instruction and strategies necessary to support the reader at any given stage.
Small-group instruction offers an environment for teachers to provide students extensive opportunities to express what they know and receive feedback from other students and the teacher. Instructional conversations are easier to conduct and support with a small group of students (Goldenberg, 1993). Not sporadic instruction. - it is systematic and intentional
Small-group instruction has many different purposes. A teacher can form a small heterogeneous group based on student interests through a book club or literature study. Students may work collaboratively on a specific task or project by participating in literacy stations or partner activities. Or a teacher can form a small, flexible homogeneous groups based on students’ skill and strategy needs or reading abilities.
Characteristics of Small Group Instruction Students grouped according to reading and word study level Uses appropriate text based on students abilities Focuses on decoding, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary Variety of ways to read text: oral, silent, partner, choral, echo, buddy Systematic word study May include conferences –reading and writing Not necessarily at the instructional level of the students, could be multi-level based on needs
Gathering Student Data To make informed instructional decisions, student data must be collected. This occurs by using a variety of assessments to determine student progress. A teacher uses diagnostic assessments to discover what students know and are able to do. The results provide information to enable the teacher to create instructional groups that best serve student needs. In addition to diagnostic assessments, formative assessments are used continually, allowing the teacher to modify and change each instructional group as needed. Student data is gathered in several ways. Reading Benchmarks Informal Reading Inventory Reading Observations
Flexible Groups Flexible grouping has also been suggested as a procedure for implementing small-group instruction that addresses the specific needs of students without restricting their engagement to the same group all the time (Radencich & McKay, 1995). Flexible grouping is considered an effective practice for enhancing the knowledge and skills of students without the negative social consequences associated with more permanent reading groups (Flood, Lapp, Flood, & Nagel, 1992). This way teachers can use a variety of grouping formats at different times, determined by such criteria as students' skills, prior knowledge, or interest.
Forming Initial Reading Groups While whole-group instruction is designed to create an experience that is shared by all students, small-group instruction is intended to address diverse learning behaviours. After gathering data and determining the different needs that exist in the classroom, the next step is to form reading groups for students with similar reading behaviours. Teachers decide what to teach each group based on collected data and the instructional needs of each group. Grouping for Strategy and Skill Instruction Deciding What to Teach The Reading Process
Lesson Components A small-group lesson looks much like a whole-group lesson. There is an objective that is taught by the teacher, time for students to practice, and an evaluation of how well the students applied the objective. This structure will vary based on time, content, and the needs of the students. The following components are part of a small-group lesson. Strategy Instruction – reading and writing Silent Reading Response Activities Discussion and Sharing Assessment/Evaluation
Scheduling and Rotating Groups While there is no formula for the number of days or length of time for small-group instruction, it is necessary to have a plan for meeting with students who need assistance. Teachers often have a limited amount of time to work with students, so it is easy to overlook or omit working with small groups in favour of teaching in whole-group settings. By determining a schedule for meeting with groups and remembering that small groups are flexible and may change at any time, a system for working with groups can be created that facilitates the learning of all students. Frequency and Duration Working with Multiple Groups Putting It All Together