Balancing the needs of all the learners in a classroom is no easy task. It is certainly not something I have mastered. Every year, I try different methods and techniques to try and differentiate the instruction in my classroom. This year, I have found a balance that seems to be working for my classroom so far: small skill groups. Now, this idea of small group instruction is by no means revolutionary. Teachers have placed student in small learning groups for many years now. But what I decided to do is a bit different than what other teachers at my school, at least, are doing.
I still teach my whole-class instruction. Then, based on my students’ benchmark test results (we use NWEA’s MAP), I place students into their small skill groups. I only do small groups twice a week when our schedule allows for it. During small groups, the instruction is solely focused on a specific skill as identified from the benchmark test instead of reinforcing the whole-group lesson that was just taught. I haven’t found the reinforcement of the whole-group lesson to be beneficial to my middle-schoolers. Because my classes are so small to begin with, I can easily reach all my learners during whole-class instruction. Whereas, the reinforcement of a specific skill they need has been beneficial for their overall reading progress.
I am really liking this method I am using in my classroom to catch students up on specific skills they are lacking. What do you do in your classroom to “catch up” your students? Share it here in the comments or tweet me @barry_christine!