Starting the 2018/2019 school year, everyone on campus actively participated in building relationships school-wide by using the Sanford Harmony Buddy Up strategy. Teachers created intentional pairings for their students, tracked the buddy pairings, referred to norms for buddy up and accountable talk, provided clear topics and tasks and facilitated and monitored students.
Now that our students have made deep connections with each other and we have built successful relationships and a positive learning community, our lead teachers, admin and coaches have planed our next professional learning cycle, which will build upon the relationships we have built and help support our learners academically as well as socially and emotionally.
For quarter two of the 2018/2019 school year, our professional learning cycle will focus on small group instruction. This will help us better support our learners in all grade levels by providing a more individualized learning experience based on student needs. During the small group instruction, teachers will be implementing strategies that are most effective for their groups. Small group sessions in kinder through sixth grades will look a bit different from small groups in our seventh and eighth grades because our middles schoolers will be taking on even more of the cognitive load as they facilitate their own learning and hold each other accountable for increasing their knowledge in certain content areas.
When conducting small groups in kinder through sixth grades will:
- Teacher sets clear purpose or focus
- Teacher takes anecdotal notes
- Teacher follows the lead of the student (flexible based on student needs)
- Teacher uses scaffolding techniques (cueing, prompting, facilitating, questioning)
- Teacher pushes students to carry the cognitive load
When participating in small groups will:
- Students understand the purpose of the lesson
- Students apply focus skill in a new situation
- Students participate in discussions or conversations with teacher and peers
- Students carry the cognitive load (they do the thinking)
- Students respond to and follow teacher prompts
- Students explain their thinking
In order to run effective small groups, the lead discussed that the room environment should reflect the following:
- Table or area of small group gathering
- 4-6 students per group
- Procedures in place/posted
- Evidence of small group expectations (including independent workers role)
- Help charts accessible (as necessary)
- Teacher and student materials (whiteboard, sentence frames, posters, graphic organizers, manipulatives, etc)
- Schedule for groups (not every student everyday, student names do not have to be posted)
With our kinder through sixth grade classrooms focusing on effective small group instruction and our seventh and eighth grade classrooms focusing on cognitive study groups, we are putting more of the responsibility on our students to master concepts and work as a cohesive team. Together, we will spend this quarter working together to better understand the composition of effective small groups in k-6 and effective collaborative study groups in our middle school.
For more information, check out the video link that was shared during one of our professional development sessions: Meeting Students’ Needs with Number Talks and Small Groups