Tips for Small Group Organization: Bright Ideas Link Up!
Hello friends! I’m so excited to be a part of this month’s Bright Ideas Link Up!
Today I’m sharing some organizational tips for your small group reading area.
I don’t know about you, but small group instruction is SUPER important to me! My small group table is the area in my room that I spend the most time at during the day. I strongly believe that small group instruction is the secret to success when it comes to student learning. With that statement, comes a huge responsibility to make sure I am maximizing the time I have with my small groups. To do that, organization is KEY. My goal for small group organization is to eliminate any and all wasted time. There are a few vital parts of my small group area that help me do this.
#1. Set the stage.
You want your students to LOVE coming back to the small group table, so it’s important to make it a cheerful and inviting place to learn! A lamp can set a very comfy and inviting tone to your small group area.
#2 If possible, place your small group table next to a whiteboard in order to display student thoughts and ideas, word work lists, and student thinking. You can also use my magnetic shower rod idea to display anchor charts you create or refer to with your small groups.
#3 Color code your guided reading groups. Keep folders, book bins, and baskets for your guided reading books in the same color as each group to make organization easy and quick!
#4 Use two baskets for each group. In the first basket, keep new guided reading books or the books you plan on introducing for the week. After the group is finished with the books during small group time, place them in the second basket, or the Fluency Basket. I train my students to grab the fluency basket for their group as soon as they get to the reading table. They immediately grab a book from the Fluency Basket and start reading. These are all books we’ve already read together. They are familiar books my students can read to “warm up” while I do a running record on a child.
#5 Have a designated place for students to return reading material you give them to practice. I will often give my students copies of articles, magazines, or special books to put in their book bins to practice. These are often not a part of the library that my students book shop from during the week, so a designated return basket makes it easy to collect these special materials.
#6 Keep a filing bin with a folder for each small group you meet with. Put unfinished or “in progress” work from your group time in the folder instead of telling kids to “bring it back to the table tomorrow.” This eliminates the risk of your students losing their copy or wasting time finding it the following day. Keep a file folder of generic reading graphic organizers in your filing bin. You never know when you may need them during a “teachable moment.”
#7 Keep sharpened pencils and dry erase markers/erasers on hand. If students bring their own back to the table and spend 1 minute each day retrieving their supplies for small group, that is 5 minutes of wasted time each week. Over the course of a month, each group has wasted about 20 minutes of instructional time! Keeping materials at your fingertips for students maximizes the time we get to use to teach. 🙂
#8 Keep crayons, scissors, and glue sticks on hand for interactive notebooks and close reads. Keep Post It note pads in a nearby bin to record student thinking. Set the stage for comprehension by asking a question before you start reading the book. Students will jot their answer down on their Post It Note while they are reading. Use binder clips to organize your sight word cards.
#9 Take extra time to strategically set up your small group space in order to SAVE time during instruction. 🙂