Small Group Gatherings

Every year as teachers we are asked to come up with a PD plan for ourselves.  This year we are required to upload ours in a format through NEE.  I decided my biggest need in my classroom was utilizing my small group time to the fullest.  I struggle with this because I never know if what I am doing is “the best”.  I decided to make this my plan and attend Dr. Mary Howard’s conference on small groups and RTI.  This woman is amazing.  I left with wonderful ideas and most important learned that it’s not all about how good something looks.  It really is SIMPLE…the meat and potatoes as she puts it. 
Since her conference I have started adapting one thing (usually small) each week.  Here is a look into what we have been doing during our small group time.  Instead of having a set schedule like I have had in the past I use each time I meet with kids like a pie graph.  I have 15 minutes to meet with each group and the 15 minutes looks something like this.
8 minutes- should be spent reading (a book, nursery rhyme, fluency strips, or any type of text) working on a strategy.
3-4 minutes – Word Work (phonics, decoding words, sight words, etc)
3-4 minutes–Writing or sharing with partners.
(This could be post-it note work, pair/share, etc)

The first pictures are from our fluency strips.  I call this speed read for fluency.  The kids spot vowels with clear stone pebbles and then read the sentence. They read it as many times as they can in a minute and then they switch with a partner.  I put a timer on for 4 minutes.  When it is up it’s up and we move on. Simple Right?

The next one will seem cheesy but it is a quick and easy “spot the vowel” and read it activity.  I usually do this as a 3 minute word warm up. The kids come sit at a spot, use a crayon to color the vowels, say the sound, and read the word. I just use masking tape. 

The next one is a favorite of mine right now because I see how much the kids are using them in their own reading.  I started a strategy bookmark for each kid.  After listening to each child read I realized that having a individualized strategy bookmark for each child was a must.  Sure, the bookmarks with the cute little animals with Stretchy the Snake are nice, but not all those strategies work for each child and giving them a cute bookmark really doesn’t mean anything to them. Having the child write their strategy down and practice with it at every small group meeting does make a difference.  The kids got a blank bookmark and I taught the strategy that I noticed worked best for each student to them.  They made a picture and words to go with it and they love them because they made them.  I plan to add maybe 2 more to the bookmark, but not until I have noticed they have mastered the first one.  I have added my template below if you would like to use it in your own room.


This is nothing fancy, but it is simple and it words. Hey…it’s the meat and potatoes ; )


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