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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for 13 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Make Small Groups Meaningful

Make Small Groups Meaningful

Center time has just started in Miss Shipley’s Kindergarten classroom. The environment is bright, engaging and buzzing with curiosity and “play”. Children are choosing what dress up clothes to put on, building towers as high as they can and listening to stories that build on the curriculum they are learning that week. Miss Shipley and a volunteer/teacher’s aid are getting a round table and horseshoe table ready for small group time.  Miss Shipley’s table works on academic skills while the other table works on creative hands on, science, art and cooking activities.  The activities always go along with what the learning outcomes are for that week and are differentiated for all students.

What is small group time

Small group or conferencing is a time built into the daily schedule for the teacher to work with students, one on one or in a small group.  The groups can be built differently, depending on what the teacher is trying to accomplish.  This is a time where teacher’s can plan focused learning for each child. You can build the groups by ability so that specific and certain skills can be focused on.  Law, mentions that small groups are used for:

• Small group of 5 or fewer children

• Grouped by ability

• Lesson diversified for needs of group

• Targeted learning of specific needed skills (2012).

Why small group time is important

Daily small group time is important so that the teacher can teach, differentiate, reteach, reinforce, assess and get to know his/her students better.   These are things to focus on when you implement small groups:

* Use assessment to guide instruction

* Engage all children

* Vary the instructional strategies

* Select appropriate content (Law, 2012)

Daily schedule

The daily schedule is important for small group time. The teacher must set the day up so that children are always moving and engaging in their learning. There must be a large chunk of time for the small groups to be beneficial.  Here is a half day and full day schedule that includes daily small group time.  This time can be broken up into different large chucks of time.

Kindergarten Half-Day Schedule

8:00 am

Arrival/Table activities/welcome

8:20 am

Table lesson (teach new concept/re-teach/review/reinforce)
Transition to carpet time

8:40 am

Carpet time/Group meeting
Transition to Centers

9:10 am

Center time/small group
Each child chooses a center/these can be rotating centers, academic/play etc.
During the center time each child is pulled to the two small groups for the daily lesson.
If needed one-on-one time

10:10 am

Transition to carpet time wrap for the morning

10:30 am

Restroom break

10:45 am

Snacks

11:00 am

Recess

11:30 am

Wrap up for the day at table time
Transition to clean up and go home

 

Kindergarten Full-Day Schedule

8:00 am

Arrival/Table activities/welcome

8:20 am

Table lesson (teach new concept/re-teach/review/reinforce)
Transition to carpet time

8:40 am

Carpet time/Group meeting
Transition to Centers

9:10 am

Center time/small group
Each child chooses a center/these can be rotating centers, academic/play etc.
During the center time each child is pulled to the two small groups for the daily lesson.
If needed one-on-one time

10:10 am

Transition to carpet for restroom

10:30 am

Restroom break

10:45 am

Reading Activities

11:15 am

Recess

11:30 am

Lunch

12:00 pm

Quiet time/Differentiate if no nap is needed for a certain child

12:30 pm

Small groups as children are waking up from rest time.

1:00 pm

Literacy/Spelling

1:30 pm

Math

2:00 pm

Writers Workshop

2:30 pm

Academic Catch up/centers/build on information

2:50 pm

Clean up and get ready to go home.

 

What can you do during small group time:

* Teach new concepts

* Build on to existing knowledge

* Differentiate  for all students

* Assess

* Re-teach

* Have one on one meetings

* Get to know your students better (developmental stages, likes/dislikes, knowledge etc).

*Hands on learning (science, cooking, art projects)

Why Center time is  Important to small groups

When you take the time to make engaging and meaningful centers children enjoy and look forward to the time they get to work on projects you have provided. Children enjoy seeing new materials and areas  you have provided for them and are eager to work with their peers and occasionally alone.  Children will also look forward to rotating through the one-on-one/small group time with you and the volunteer/teachers aid. This is a time they also get to know you better, are able to communicate about themselves and show you what they know and are learning.

Small group time can change a classrooms dynamic drastically. It allows the teacher to get to know each student better, it is a time each day that the teacher is communicating with each student and  the teacher can really hone in on each child’s developmental level and what they know and need help with.  Time, preparation and organization are three things that go into building true and meaningful small group learning. 

 

References

Law, K. (2012). Small Group Instruction: Lessons from the Field. Retrieved from

http://southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Dimensions_Vol40_3_Wils

 

Dr. Tisha Shipley teaching as an online Associate Professor and is the Chair of an ECE Program. She enjoys writing, working with families and reaching ECE professionals through her social media outlets.  Visit Dr. Shipley's website at www.busyclassroom.weebly.com and her social media at: http://busyclassroom.weebly.com/dr-shipleys-early-childhood-social-media...