- Until VERY recently… I hated small group time. (As in just a few years ago…)
- I’ve spent 6 years trying to find the “perfect” small group time routine and I am still working on it (and I am pretty sure I will continue working on it for the next 20 years because there is just always something new and your kiddos are NEVER the same!)
- The state I teach in (Florida) requires I have 60 minutes of small group time (for reading) a day.
- What I am about to share with you is what works for me in my classroom at the moment. It is not the be all end all. I am not the authority of small group time. It took me a lot of trial and errors to get to this point.
Small Group in 2nd Grade
How is Center Time Organized?
A Simple Three Center Set Up
Like I said earlier, I like to keep things super simple in my room! That means three groups and three centers.
My three stations are:
- Independent work
- Group work
How Many Kids in Each Group?
Here’s an example of how I used flexible grouping in my classroom this year. Read here about how I comb through my data.
After completing my beginning of the year DRA assessments, I placed my students into three groups:
- on-level (DRA 16-20)
- below-level (DRA 14 and below)
- above level (DRA 20+)
From there, we worked on general guided reading lessons for second grade-mostly focusing in on reading fluency and reading comprehension. After a few weeks (and some more data) I reworked my below and on-level group. I noticed that a few of my students who had higher DRA scores leaving 1st grade were still struggling with phonics. My phonics instruction routine more intense in my lower group (with daily practice instead of just a few times a week).
I also noticed one of my higher students struggled with vocabulary, so any time I worked on vocabulary lessons with my on-level group, I pulled that student to double dip. This meant that student sat for their own lesson, then came again when I was meeting with the on-level group. This type of flexibility allowed me to give my students what they needed right then and there, not when I finally decided to rearrange groups.
How Do You Differentiate Your Centers?
- Having students fill out specific information on different level books. If we’re studying central topic this week, each group will have a different level of book to read and ID the topic and supporting details. For my lower kids, I’ll often have part of the activity started to keep them on track.
- Using the same center activity in different ways- like I spoke about here.
- Using the same activity, but providing different extensions for the activity for each group. I’ve done this with older centers I have that are not necessarily rigorous. For example, after completing a syllabic word activity, I might have my lower group create sentences using the words. My on-level group might do a story with the words and my highest group would write a story, then come up with their own multi-syllabic words for the next group to use.
- Pulling different leveled worksheets on the same concept and put them into separate folders (Like I talk about here).
- Using different leveled material that covers the same concept. I do this often with sight word games. I might have only review units (or even 1st grade words) for my lower kids (aligned with where they are currently in their sight word acquisition) Whereas my on level kiddos would do the same game using words we are currently working on, and my highers would be using future words/3rd grade words.
How Do You Keep Your Kids Quiet?
- What are students expected to do while you are teaching your small group lesson? Make sure it is clearly explained.
- What should students do if they complete their centers before time is up? Downtime is where most kiddos find themselves getting into trouble. Prevent this! Have routines in place so students know exactly what to do if they finish early. Mine? Read a book or work on unfinished work!
- How do students get help? I like the three before me rule. This year, I’ve also instituted a class genius who is in charge of answering questions during small group time (highly coveted position!) After asking three people in their group AND the genius, then they can come ask me.
Where Do You Get Your Activities?
I also found that having a few center games prepped and ready to go made life waaayyy easier. Instead of worrying about what activities my students were going to complete, I could just walk right over to my centers filing cabinet, grab out a station activity and BAM! Center was ready to go.
So, I started using my summers as a time to make, print, and prep a few activities. After 2 summers, I was fully stocked on stations that were standards-aligned, differentiated, and easy to pull and go!
How Do You Manage All the Recording Pages?
Do you, boo!
So all this is to say this is what is currently working in my classroom with my schedule and my students. I always keep an open mind about how things are going in my room and have no issue changing things up if they just aren’t working. (Like that one time I had to add another group because I had too many low kids and we just weren’t getting along well in the groups!) The moral is: do you, boo! See what works and what doesn’t. As long as your students are your guide, you can’t go wrong!
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