Small Group Writing Guidance
When I am the teacher-artist, I consider the personalities and work ethic of students. If there are chatty students or students who are going to end up in a conflict, I cannot put them in the same group because of the nature of not being able to facilitate all of the students at once. In this instance, it is more important to create groupings that promote a harmonious learning environment. There are times when I form groups based on pre assessment or skill deficits. When the instructional focus is writing or the writing process, I found that grouping students with the same instructional need for that particular set of writing prompts has produced the most gains. These homogeneous groups allow students to practice a skill with their peers and for the small group instruction to be more targeted and specific to the needs of the learners. There may be a group of students who are struggling with the thesis statement for a particular prompt or may have difficultly connecting the content to writing process. These students would be placed in the same group.
I use the School of One online dashboard on my computer to monitor real-time student progress on digital content. When I notice patterns of errors and/or clear misconceptions, I approach specific students for one-on-one Targeted Interventions. This strategy allows me to correct misconceptions in real time.
I implement a station rotation model in my classroom. On a typical day, following brief whole-class direct instruction, my students will rotate through three blended learning stations: small group instruction, collaborative learning, and independent work. At each station, students work either with a teacher, a group of their peers, or individually towards content mastery. The key levers of my model are student self-pacing and small-group instruction. Through a mix of student choice and teacher facilitation, I have been able to activate my students’ learning and accelerate them towards higher academic achievement.
Number of Students: ~25 students
Number of Adults: one teacher; one paraprofessional
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 45 minutes
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: Kahoot!; Plickers; PBWorks; Blackboard; Newsela; Edmodo; BrainPop & BrainPop Jr; Discovery Education Techbook; Padlet; Vimeo; Today’s Meet
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: 25 ASUS T100 laplets with charging cart (1:1); Promethean Board
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
To take a quick pulse of the class I may do a fist to five (students hold up a fist if they had difficulties or were unable to get in synch with the rest of class to a five which means they felt successful and are ready to transition to the next station). This Likert scale type voting gives me the opportunity to be responsive to specific student needs and quickly ascertain which students need my immediate attention or which student’s work/submissions I should review. There are also times when I feel it is appropriate to hear from students and give them the opportunity to exercise their student voice. During this exercise I take both volunteers and non-volunteers to give me their “thrills and chills/roses and thorns/high and lows of the day”. I think it is important for students to see me receive critical feedback or praise and be able to appropriately respond. It is extremely powerful for students to make a suggestion on how our class should operate and see it implemented almost immediately.