Small group instruction can be for a single lesson or objective or we can plan a course of study over a period of time. Regardless of the time commitment, it’s important to remember that small group work isn’t just for striving writers… it’s for ALL writers.
Even in the best of teaching times, a student’s work is rarely completely one level since there are so many elements that constitute effective writing, and it’s also rare for the same sequence of lessons to meet the learning opportunities of all students. With such variation and discrepancies, small group instruction is more critical than ever in order to address and nurture the range of learners in classrooms. We hope that this blog series inspires you to lean into small group instruction with intention and confidence!
Jennifer Serravallo’s newest book, which focuses on small-group instruction, is a text that explains the fundamentals of small-group work and then provides teachers with support for implementing a variety of small groups that will help students grow as writers.
Small groups are possible through breakout rooms, and just as in the classrooms, they offer targeted lessons for what students need right as they need it. It’s so worth figuring how to keep this important type of instruction happening, no matter where!
Time is a precious commodity in elementary schools. Making the time for a daily writing workshop often means that something else has to get short shrift. However, sometimes, the time for writing workshop gets cut by five or ten minutes. Here are several suggestions for what you can do if writing time gets cut.
There’s no question it is challenging to get to know writers deeply via Zoom. And yet. . . something is working, because all of my remote kindergartners are writing. They are all making books. And while I might not have an hour each day to be side by side with them in the classroom, there is no question I am finding ways to get to know what kind of writers they are and what they need.
I have learned from Meghan Hargrave, “Hold tight to what we know works and let go of concerns that we can’t control.”
Is it possible to duplicate the live, in-person experiences? Of course not, but maybe some of you could feel the authenticity of a high-five or hug I’m sending your way.
So let’s think about some ways to bring virtual classrooms to life, maybe thinking of it as duplicating some of the processes of your classroom in a virtual world.
With the volume of students most middle school writing teachers serve, how is one to plan for differentiation? Using a basketball analogy, here is one play you can run…
I am so grateful to have this resource available to me as an educator at no cost. Maybe someday, I’ll get to thank whoever is behind the Google Curtain in person. In the meantime, I’ll share what’s been working and I’ll look forward to hearing about how some of you end up doing it even better!
Coaches of young athletes often offer tips, reminders, and suggestions from the sidelines in hopes of eliciting the best possible performance from the team. As teachers of writing, we can borrow this structure in our small group settings.
Want to keep (better) conferring records, but don’t know where to begin? This post will help you discover analog and digital record-keeping systems.
Read all the way through since there will are lots of downloadable templates to help you get started.
Recent longitudinal studies have shown that students who in early years perform as strong writers do not remain strong writers into middle school. Rather, they slip to the middle of the pack- or worse, they become unmotivated to write. Why is that? And what can we do about it?
Small group instruction allows for efficiency and strategy sessions with more than one student. Allowing students to lead these groups and sessions gives purpose and opportunity to not only further the understandings of the leader but impacts your community of writers as they grow.
For many middle school teachers, planning and teaching small groups in writing workshop feels a little like the Rubik’s Cube; like this famous puzzle, there is a sense that small groups are doable (somehow, maybe?), yet the orchestration of all the many parts can make them feel overwhelming and perhaps even insurmountable. If you feel this way, know that you are not alone.
The fact is, just like athletes that show up to the first day of practice, writers bring different skill sets. Some arrive to middle school not knowing where to put a period, while others already know how paint vivid pictures with words that knock our socks off. How do we plan for such a wide variety of writers?
Our blog series on writing workshop fundamentals continues through the weekend. Take a look at how you can benefit from incorporating small groups into your daily writing workshop routine.
Over the years, my chartbook has evolved. Here are some of the latest pages.
Whenever I pull a small group for a lesson, there are some important guidelines I try to remember and follow.
Small group instruction is a powerful way to reach and teach more students in your classroom!