Managing small groups can be tricky. In younger grades, students may need more assistance or have more questions about what they need to complete. In the upper elementary and middle grades, minimizing distraction is key. Three really good teachers shared their expertise and ideas for managing small groups instead of letting them manage your classroom.
Classroom Small Group Management Tips
Cooperative Learning Small Group Management
Renee Sinclair from Austin, TX suggested using cooperative learning techniques to manage small groups. “Try incorporating cooperative learning techniques into your classroom. This approach, which encourages positive learning interactions between and among students, can be a great help-especially in a multi-age classroom,” she explained. “Arrange students in pairs or small groups, and offer them activities to work on together. Experiment with the groupings to get the right mix. Practice together how you want children to proceed before expecting them to function independently. A great little resource to help you get started is Cooperative Learning: Getting Started by Susan S. Ellis and Susan F. Whalen (Scholastic, 1990).”
Let Them Listen Small Group Management
Listening is key in Jason Liebowitz’ Warren, NJ classroom. “I have found that setting up a listening center is very helpful management tool,” he explained. “My classroom listening center is not elaborate-it consists of a simple cassette recorder (played with the volume set LOW) plus some books on tape with companion books. I schedule children to meet there and listen to books as they read along in print. As a variation, I sometimes record simple directions for a game or activity and let children listen to the tape so they know what to do without my assistance. I then provide all the supplies they need to complete the task I described on tape. I also show children how to rewind the tape so they can set it up for the next group.”
Rotate Groups for Small Group Management
Minimizing boredom is what Darleen Marie Jones finds works for her students in Holbrook, NY. “I generally divide my class into four large groups. I meet with one group, one group works on “folder work” which consists of cross-curricular activity pages, one group rotates through learning centers and the last group meets at the class library corner for recreational reading or content area reading assignments,” she explained. “After a predetermined amount of time (not too short, not too long-you have to experiment to see what is best for your class) we rotate the groups so everyone gets a chance to complete every activity. This keeps interest high and boredom low and allows me to teach children using a multitude of modalities.”
How do you manage small groups in your classroom? Share your ideas with us below!