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small groups vs. large groups
Old 11-26-2019, 11:02 AM
 
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Just read a couple of articles on teaching whole group vs. small group that made me think. What are your thoughts?


https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2...P72UIO3fUhjy3U


https://www.shanahanonliteracy.com/b...8GO55t03qkZbrw


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Interesting reading
Old 11-26-2019, 12:47 PM
 
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But I can't help but reflect that the power to decide whole group vs. small group does not lie with me, but with the district that has required 3 small groups (reading) per day for almost two decades.
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Time on task
Old 11-26-2019, 02:25 PM
 
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For me, running a program with small reading groups means that more of the students are not receiving instruction.

I tend to whole group teach, then circulate and provide individual attention. I have formed small groups for very specific purposes, but it's not my usual thing. Since my students make more grwoth in both ELA and math on state tests than others, I haven't been put under a microscope...yet.
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Small group
Old 11-26-2019, 04:41 PM
 
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I think small group teaching is of a higher quality but also means less explicit instruction over all. For my kinders, less is often more, so small group teaching is a big part of what I do. And essential (imo) for teaching reading. Plus, at that age, they need lots of time to play. I put a lot of play-based activities- along with independent skill practice- into my small group time for kids when they are not working with me.

When I taught 3/4 however, I felt that small group wasted a lot of time. Most of my kids thrived during differentiated whole group instruction. Choral reading was awesome for that age group. My higher kids helped lift the ability of my lower ones. They all improved. At that age, they are ready to spend a large part of the day on academic tasks. It's so different to k/1.
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Interesting
Old 11-28-2019, 07:25 AM
 
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My admin has been telling me that whole group is antiquated and should be done away with. Personalized learning is the big deal. Everyone moving at their own rate through the curriculum is the ideal.

I have been struggling with that idea to the point where I'm wondering how I can continue teaching. I teach a whole group lesson and then have the students working on various tasks related to the content that are differentiated.

Since I've been trying to do more personalized things, I feel fragmented and that I'm much less effective. Maybe I'm not as antiquated as I'm being made out to be.


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Old 11-28-2019, 07:42 AM
 
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Interesting!

My school follows Jan Richardson and I've yet to be on board 100% with pulling three 20 min. groups per day. I just can't do it, no matter how hard I try. I maybe get 1 in, sometimes 2 groups per day.

Upon reading the articles, I'm not going to feel guilty.

My students make great growth in reading and writing because of the many and varied reading/writing activities I do with them each day. I am very purposeful with my instruction and with the assignments I give.
They are reading/writing across the curriculum day in and day out, and they don't even realize it because I often throw it in here and there in fun and engaging ways (in addition to the "regular" reading/writing instruction, if that makes sense). I'm sure my P assumes it is because I'm following Jan Richardson...he doesn't know I rarely, if ever fit in 3 groups per day.

Thanks for posting these. I'm so tempted to share them with my P, colleagues, and reading coaches, but don't think I'll do so...

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Old 11-28-2019, 07:44 AM
 
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Quote:
My admin has been telling me that whole group is antiquated and should be done away with. Personalized learning is the big deal. Everyone moving at their own rate through the curriculum is the ideal.
Oh my word! That may be "ideal" in a perfect world, but it's just not possible with 25+ students!

Last edited by TeacherPK6; 11-28-2019 at 09:13 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-28-2019, 07:59 AM
 
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I prefer to teach whole group with individual practice time, but I keep trying small group model because the PD I have attended says it's better.

That has never been my experience and all along I've thought it was some deficiency in my ability to lead small groups.

I'm going to take these articles & their cited research plus my personal experience as permission to stop trying small group teaching.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:19 PM
 
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This is a question of whether or not one is led by test results or individual needs. Admin unfortunately dictates to many that good test results are the end goal and the results better be stellar . I was lucky for most of my career because the admin said to me "just get it done." I tried various grades and whole group teaching allowed me to "get through the curriculum." That worked for some years and other years it literally took after school small groups to get it done.

Another problem for many teachers is how to manage the small group activities while you are teaching. It took me many years of figuring it out on my own before I found a solution. Not one of the many expensive pd sessions ever gave me the answer to that huge problem. Good luck to all of you .
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Old 11-28-2019, 04:12 PM
 
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I don’t know if it’s just a demographic thing, but every year I’ve tried small group I’ve hated it. I’ve had such a wide range of ability levels that I typically had 5-6 groups. I could see maximum 3 a day. The “experts” tell you that it’s okay. Meet with your low group daily. Rotate the others. Don’t worry if you only see the high group once a week. I’m sorry, but no. Just because they’re “high” doesn’t mean they don’t have deficits.

Ideally? I teach whole group a la I do..., We do..., You do...

During You do..., I circulate the room and identify which students are struggling with the skill. Then I pull those students for small group reteach. It doesn’t matter if they’re “high” or “low,” the students who need my attention receive it.


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Old 11-28-2019, 06:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Ideally? I teach whole group a la I do..., We do..., You do...

During You do..., I circulate the room and identify which students are struggling with the skill. Then I pull those students for small group reteach. It doesn’t matter if they’re “high” or “low,” the students who need my attention receive it.
Yes, this is the ideal, imo, and how I prefer to teach.
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Old 11-28-2019, 07:02 PM
 
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You can vary the approach
Try you do first,then we do, and finally I do. It's a student centered approach and offers a challenge.Students will feel compelled to collaborate at times. Whole group teaching can look differently at times.
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Old 11-30-2019, 01:15 PM
 
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Interesting to read everyone's experiences. I've always struggled with seeing multiple groups per day, so I think that both articles resonated with me. I do one small group rotation each day (either guided reading or writing), and then usually do whole group for most of our phonics/phonemic awareness instruction. My strugglers see our teacher tutor daily to work on the pieces they are struggling with. I usually get most of my kids at grade level or above (there's always one or two, as we all know!), so it's working, but I'm always looking at ways to improve.
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Old 11-30-2019, 02:00 PM
 
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I read this not too long ago. I was so glad to see it because my students have always had major growth with mostly whole group teaching. I do pull a group to worn that struggles during independent time or self selected reading time.

Our new GREAT curriculum is almost all centers and small group and this is 5th grade. All I see is A LOT of off task time and playing. I already abandoned it 12 weeks in. Hopefully I don't get in trouble.
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:21 PM
 
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Claire, that’s another great point. A lot of years you don’t have the behavior and or dynamic to do small groups. Part of it is expectations and practice, but if you have a group that lacks motivation it just doesn’t work.

The two years I was partially successful, I had amazing kids. They really wanted to do well, and even like that it took over six weeks to get the procedures in place and small groups up and running. It took the entire first semester to have it down pat, but even like that I felt my “high” kids suffered.
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