Small Group Sessions

Small group sessions support students to practice the content in a smaller setting to support mastery
236 teachers like this strategy
Small Group Sessions in Action

About This Strategy

Small group sessions are opportunities for students to work in smaller groups or one-on-one to practice content that they have not yet mastered or content that would extend their learning. During small group sessions, teachers strategically group students to provide specific interventions or extensions that enable students to practice content in order to move towards mastery. Frequently assessing students' understanding is the key to successful small group sessions.

Implementation Steps

30-60 minutes
  1. Frequently assess students to determine their levels of understanding.

  2. Determine which strategic groups to work with.

    • Will you work with all students during the period or with certain groups?

    • Will you work with students who have not yet mastered the content?

    • Will you use the small group sessions for extensions?

  3. Based on the proficiency levels you plan on working with, curate a lesson that aligns to the purpose.

    • If you are remediating work, consider a mini-lesson for reteaching with additional time to practice.

    • If you are extending students' understanding, consider what is the next step in the progression to support students to continue learning.

  4. Complete a mini-lesson or provide additional practice within the small group session.

  5. Re-assess student understanding to determine if the session was effective.

Small Group Interventions

As students work, use in-the-moment data collection to respond to student groups in real time. When formative assessment is ingrained as part of the learning process, students become more accustomed to feedback and get better at revising work to produce higher-quality finished products.

Implementation Steps:

  1. While students work in groups, monitor their progress. This can be done by circulating and monitoring or by using technology to monitor their progress via whatever tech tool students are using. 
  2. When you see that a group needs feedback, check in with the group to give students the targeted support they need, exactly when they need it. 
  3. Consider providing a direct communication avenue between students - either via a signal or digital tool - to enable students who feel unsure about their work to direct questions to their teacher geared at clearing up misconceptions.

Small Group Instruction in an Open Up Math Classroom

Krystal Bankston
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

While small group and small group instruction is not explicitly detailed throughout the lessons, there are opportunities for small group activities and instruction. Whether it be through allotted flex time or RTI time provided by the school schedule or the extra days allotted within the unit, the teacher can create the opportunity to meet with students in a small group and have students work collaboratively in a small group. This strategy can be used for grades 6th - 8th Math teachers using the Open-Up Math curriculum.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Small group instruction and small group work can occur within the lesson through the activities as well as with the student practice problems. Both of these areas in the Math curriculum could be turned into small group work, while the teacher works with small groups to remediate or support student needs.

  2. Small group instruction and work can also take place during scheduled flex time or RTI time, determined by the school schedule. Students can work on activities or practice problems within the curriculum or can use this time to practice specific areas they are struggling with. Teachers can scaffold student work based on data that has been gathered throughout the unit.

  3. Small group instruction and group work can also take place during the added days within the scope and sequence of each unit. Each unit has approximately 18-19 lessons, but allots 20-21 days to complete the unit. This provides the teacher with a few days of flexibility to use small group instruction or have students work in small groups to move towards mastery of the content.

Special Education Modifications

Small group sessions can provide students with learning disabilities with additional, scaffolded support. Using small group sessions can help some students feel more comfortable asking questions and provide them with additional scaffolding and practice to support mastery.

Questions to Consider

  1. What expectations and norm do you need to set to ensure that everyone is on task during small group sessions?

  2. How can you create a classroom culture that fosters small group sessions? How can you ensure students do not feel targeted when needing to attend small group sessions?

Tech Tools


  • Plickers is a tech tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices. Students are handed cards with a different symbol on each side. Each side represents one out of 4 possible answers. The teachers scans the group with a smartphone or a tablet and instantly get data on a specific question.

  • Plickers supports this strategy by providing a simple tech free to check for understanding and analyze the impact of a small group intervention