How many? How often? How to assess? What's the teacher's role? We share flexible and creating strategies for leading groups, and teaching students how to partner and work well with classmates independently. Resources include everything from planning and assessment forms to scores of video examples of groups in action at many grade levels.
Brian Sepe shares one of his favorite activities for small groups of young learners: making books together.
Tammy Mulligan listens to students and adapts her small-group instruction as they share how they learn.
Gretchen Schroeder’s students are almost all white and live in a rural community. She finds book clubs are a wonderful tool for expanding cultural awareness.
Leigh Anne Eck lists critical questions teachers might ask themselves as they build online writing communities where everyone is comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
Balancing small groups and conferences is essential for transferring learning from lessons and units, and it’s one of the trickiest tasks for teachers. Dana Murphy explains how she works toward balance in her classroom, weighing everything from the timeline of the unit to the intensity of the minilesson.
Fifth graders use a visual tool to help them build on each other’s ideas in book clubs. They are applying a strategy demonstrated in an earlier minilesson taught by Dana Murphy.
Dana Murphy leads a minilesson on book club conversations, using a fishbowl strategy and building blocks to support more sophisticated conversations.
Dana Murphy finds it is best to teach conventions in small, targeted groups in her fifth-grade classroom. She explains how she designs and leads these groups.
Heather Fisher explains how viewing excerpts from the same video multiple times can help students in book clubs hone their conversation and reflection skills.
Tammy Mulligan shares the importance of giving students choice and agency with book club tools to improve engagement and the quality of the conversations.
Shari Frost is surprised to see guided reading used for proficient fifth-grade readers. She considers some strategic alternatives.
So many needs for groups, and so little time. Dana Murphy finds that a strategy notebook is invaluable as a teaching aid in her fifth-grade small groups.
Mark Levine releases responsibility for teaching and assessment to students late in the school year, and hears echoes of learning from previous units.
Dana Murphy explains how her small-group planner is an essential tool for organizing groups in her fourth-grade classroom.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they help teachers move from guided reading to strategy groups in the upper elementary grades.
Franki Sibberson pulls together a group of fifth graders to explore writing mentors together.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills are discouraged by the random and idiosyncratic responses to reading they are seeing among first graders. They implement a series of lessons to help students move to evidence-based reading responses.
Gigi McAllister leads a group of boys who are just starting the novel in verse The Crossover in her fourth-grade classroom.
Christy Ruth-Levine leads a small group of eighth graders as they explore how to include textual evidence in their literary analysis essays.
Mark Levine finds Russell Freedman book clubs are a great way for his middle school students to deepen their understanding of history and empathize with young people who have lived through previous eras.
Shari Frost helps a teacher who has guided reading groups that have run amok, and discovers that the real culprit is a lack of time for reading and writing in the literacy block.
Bitsy Parks helps a small group of first graders engage with the library early in the year by introducing a series with companion stuffed animals.
Christy Rush-Levine shows a group of three students how they can use a storyboard to help track thinking while reading.
Katherine Sokolowski helps her fifth-grade students expand their territory for their animal research projects by sharing information sources and peer connections.
Setting small-group goals can be tricky, and the complexity is compounded when you are working with English language learners. Kate Mills explains her goal-setting process with K-3 ELLs, and gives examples of how it works.
Katherine Sokolowski demonstrates how she helps a group of girls in her fifth-grade classroom learn to help each other select books based on previous experiences and tastes.
Gigi McAllister tries student-led discussion groups in her fourth-grade classroom, with disastrous results. She regroups the following year with multiple lessons, anchor charts, and preparation to ensure success.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills develop a process of pre-assessment, careful planning, and systematic recordkeeping to up the value of their small groups.
Gigl McAllister explains why she hosts optional lunchtime author studies, with practical tips on getting started.
Katherine Sokolowski leads a small group of fifth graders who have chosen similar topics for their projects in an environmental unit.
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