When and How To Incorporate Small Group Reading Instruction In Classrooms

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Teachers often struggle with incorporating teaching in small groups in classrooms. They have a limited time, usually 90 minutes, for reading instruction. In these 90 minutes, they have to teach phonics, writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc., while also making sure that students divide into groups for small group instruction and learning. This could be hectic. 

Read what literacy experts have to say about when and how to incorporate small groups reading instruction in classrooms.

Type of Depends On What The Teacher Wants To Accomplish

Small group teaching is a tool, which the teacher should use strategically. 

Ask yourself if you should teach in small groups or the whole class? What will be a more efficient way to meet the teaching objective? Decide based on the answers to these questions. 

Instances Where Small Group Instruction Would Be Helpful

One example where small group instruction would be helpful is when you have already taught a lesson to the whole class, but some students did not do well. Gather those students and teach them the lesson again. 

Another instance where small group instruction is helpful is when you want the students to become more independent learners. 

In such a case, you can divide the class into four or more groups and assign roles and responsibilities to each student. For example, one child would be responsible for getting everyone to make a prediction, while the other would be responsible for everyone to make possible questions, and so on. 

This helps the kids guide and help each other more. However, make sure that you are around the kids if they want help. 

Even A Pair Is A Group!

When we think of small groups, we usually think of three or more students. However, even a pair is a group and can be most useful in some cases. 

A paired reading is best for fluency practice. Ask all the students to sit in pairs and give them the text to read. Then, ask them to divide the text into two halves as each student reads one half. While one student reads aloud, the other reads silently or listens and helps the other if they get stuck on some word. 

The teacher circulates from pair to pair to see if everyone is doing alright, and everyone gets a substantial oral reading experience.

Concluding Thoughts

Reading instruction depends on what the teacher’s desired outcomes are. Experts suggest that teachers should decide whether they want to instruct in small groups or the whole class, based on what they want to achieve from the lesson that day. Use small group teaching as a tool, not a medicine that you must have every day.

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