Guided Math Small Group Beginning

I’m diving in tomorrow. Well, a little bit anyway. πŸ™‚

It will be my 1st official day of math small group instruction. I’m going to keep it simple tomorrow so that we can all get used to this type of environment. So no new skill tomorrow. Just a review of ratios/rates.

But I will be showing them how to problem solve by showing some LOVE. I got this idea from a teacher who blogged about how she taught her students to problem solve this way.

You can read her post here:

Our 3 rotations are going to be:


2. Small group with me

3. Practice sheet on current skill-they will work as a group to complete this. IF they finish, they can play a game.

For my small group instruction I am going to keep it somewhat simple.

First, we are going to work up with some multiplication facts. I just printed an entire set from this website below. Thank you to the angel that created these!! πŸ™‚

Multiplication Flash Cards

After that little warm up, we are going to self correct the math test from last week and discuss. Then, if we have time, we are going to problem solve 1 problem from the math test using our new LOVE strategy. At the end of small group time, they are going to put their name card in the appropriate place on the MATH bulletin board.


This is IF I have time to redo a bulletin board. πŸ™‚

I’ll be reporting back during the week to let you know how it goes! πŸ™‚



War Eagle, The Fox, and TPT

I’m finally home from a conference-been there since Wednesday night. It feels good to be home!!

Let me go ahead and say, “War Eagle!”

2013 SEC Champions!! And what a game!


I normally don’t update my Facebook status with football news. It’s too dangerous. πŸ™‚

But I had to do this one! πŸ™‚


After the hubby went to bed, I got busy on Teachers Pay Teachers. And yes, I paid several teachers!


I bought a couple of math things, but what I really went crazy with was for reading time.

I should have been doing some intervention all along. Because this is what we’re facing. One of my 6th graders couldn’t read the word “rough” the other day. And he has actually placed at a higher reading level than 2 other students.

So while I will be keeping the reading workshop routine, because I’m in love with it, I’m going to start pulling groups with a plan in mind.

I’ve already divided my 16 students into 3 groups. Will I be able to meet with all 3 groups every day? No. But hopefully I can meet with 2 groups per day. I’m going to squeeze some time away from writing (I know-I know!) and history/science.

Before you panic about the writing, just know that I will only be stealing 5-10 minutes. πŸ™‚

Also, I’m going to keep my reading mini-lesson that is while class MINI! If it takes us 2-3 weeks to closely read and analyze a short text, then so be it! I’ve GOT to address these reading deficiencies in my students. Otherwise, the close reads are worthless. Right?

So I’m thinking that with my lowest group I will meet with them everyday.

Sight words, decoding multisyllable words, oral reading fluency, and comprehension. A. Little. Bit. Each. Day.

I really don’t know how long all of that is going to take. It sounds like it would take 30 minutes!!

I still don’t have it all planned out in my head. I’m worried. I’m scared. Not about doing it. But staying on a time schedule. And not knowing what to give up if it’s taking too long!

Most teachers worry about what the other kids will be doing. Not me because I have them reading. Easy Peasy.

Lately I’ve been thinking I need 90 minutes for math and 90 minutes for reading. Did I already write about that in another blog post?!??? πŸ™‚

So here’s to tomorrow and getting some actual planning and organizing done!

Math Routine Notes

I’m at a conference right now and couldn’t go to sleep last night because my mind was spinning with ideas on how I can change our math routine to fit the needs of my 6th graders.

This is the deal. They are all below grade level. It’s my job to fix that. Or work towards fixing it. They have so many gaps in their math skills. The four basic operations haven’t been mastered for many of them.

So we are plugging along learning 6th grade math concepts and still have so many deficiencies.

Time for a change. A big one.

Which leads me to small group/individual instruction. It’s going to have to happen! Otherwise we are just spinning our wheels.

I’m too tired to write much more, but let me say that moby is about to become my new best friend!

My plan is to block off 90 minutes for math and have 3 groups that rotate to 3 stations.

Me, moby, and group practice sheet.

Sounds easy right? Hahahahaha!

THIS is what was inside of my head last night and IT IS NOT THE FIRST DRAFT! πŸ™‚

Yes, I realize I don’t have to have it ALL in place to start, but there’s still A LOT I need to do!! OMG! πŸ™‚

Now hiring. πŸ™‚

Will I be able to pull it off for this Monday?


What do you think??

Finally, small group instruction!

I am finally maybe an eighth of the way to figuring out small group instruction in reading for my 6th graders. First of all, let me give you a brief scenario of why it is SO hard to fit this into our day:

1. State mandated curriculum takes A LOT of time to cover

2. Some students work at a slower pace than others, so things in class take time to complete

3. Since we are required to “give” at least 10 grades per subject per 6 weeks, it seems that 1 day each week is essentially devoted to testing

4. Because of the complexity of the 6th grade curriculum, there is a need to add lots of repetition into our schedule to hopefully ensure that ALL students eventually master each thing

5. Our beloved (insert sarcasm here) required reading program is-TIME CONSUMING, DIFFICULT, OFTEN BORING, AND NEVER ENDING Β  which means that A LOT of our time needs to be devoted to covering it. I will leave it at that!

6. We can’t forget about our many daily interruptions-intercom announcements, student check-outs/check-ins, behavior problems, etc. One day my students and I tallied our interruptions and by the end of the day we had 18 total!!

I’m probably not even listing all the reasons why it’s hard to fit in small group instruction, but you see where I’m coming from with the 6 I listed above.

Oh, yeah-I have approximately 2 hours 15 minutes (?) with each of my 2 classes.

Obviously, I can’t implement small group instruction like the earlier grades are able to. So here’s my plan (and I have actually followed it for 3 days this week!).

I will allow a 20-30 minute time slot in our day (each class) for small group help Monday-Thursday. Each day a different area will be covered. Phonics/Vocabulary/Fluency/Comprehension. Of course, the 1st three are the building blocks to comprehension anyway! The students themselves will decide if they want help. If they do, they will sign their name on a clipboard and meet me at the table.

The other students will Read to Self. I’ll report back to you soon and give you the some statistics like number of students requesting help, etc. Today I had 7 in each class that came for help. I really thought I would have had more, but we’ll see how it goes!

In my ideal classroom world, my instruction would probably look something like this:

20%-Whole Class Instruction

20%-Small Group Instruction

60%-Individual Instruction

In reality, it has been looking like this:

90%-Whole Class Instruction

10%-Small Group Instruction (Hit and Miss)

I at least hope to reach this:

70%-Whole Class Instruction

30%-Small Group Instruction

Now that I have rambled enough about all of this, I will let your brain rest. πŸ™‚ Will post more later!

And for you teachers out there that have messaged me about some reading resources I am working on them as quickly as I can!!! Sorry I’ve been so busy! πŸ™‚


Read and Write 180-Day 71

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday all day long! πŸ™‚ Hit the snooze button at 6:00 am and didn’t wake back up until 6:38 am!!!!!! Cold, cold, cold. Rainy. Internet didn’t work when I got to school. Left some books at home so couldn’t make the work packets (I know the kids were sooooooo disappointed!). πŸ™‚

Looked forward to going to the dentist ALL day πŸ™‚ since I didn’t exactly follow the directions they gave me last week when they put a temporary crown on and told me NOT to eat anything chewy on that side of my mouth. Those milk duds made me do it!

Anyway, the school day actually went well! AND I DID SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION! ON A MONDAY! πŸ™‚ I’m patting myself on the back right now. LOL!

So over the holiday break I did a lot of thinking about reorganizing my teaching to put more emphasis on reading and writing and not so much on spelling and english. Not on the isolated part of those 2 subjects anyway. This is what our day looked like today:

English- We still labeled a sentence (we will continue to do this everyday). We labeled the parts of speech, subjects and predicates, and identified the type and kind of sentence it was. (Declarative, Exclamatory, Interrogative, Imperative) (Simple, Compound, Complex, Compound Complex). Then they wrote a paragraph using this sentence. Sort of a short story. With a title. I think they enjoy doing these. Well, as much as 6th graders can enjoy doing anything remotely related to school! πŸ™‚ Our sentence today was:

The gobbling, plump turkey trotted hesitantly through the grassy, open field Thursday.

One title that struck my fancy was “The Hunter and The Hunted”. πŸ™‚ We then discussed one student’s paragraph using the ELMO. We ALWAYS give stars (things we noticed they did well) and wishes (things we would like them to focus on improving). We do this EVERYDAY. I hope it pays off!

Writing- I am introducing persuasive writing this week. We are going to fill out a job application to try to get Santa to hire us to be a reindeer. I got this fantastic idea from pinterest-I think a 1st grade teacher had posted it, and then I found where a 5th grade teacher had modified it to suit her older kids. I read them the picture book “How Santa Got His Job” so that we could discuss things we noticed about Santa Claus during all of his jobs leading up to his Santa job and how they prepared him for that ultimate job. It’s a CUTE read aloud! Then we brainstormed for all 3 sections of the job application in our writing notebook.

1. Talents and skills

2. Why I want to be a reindeer

3. What makes me a good reindeer

Tomorrow we will take these notes we jotted down and put them into paragraph form as a rough draft. This will probably take a couple of days.

Reading- Mondays will be devoted to building background knowledge for the upcoming story exposure to the reading strategy and skill for the week. So here’s an outline for today. Our story this week is an auto-biography “Learning to Swim”.

Read Aloud-I chose NOT to use the 1 page story in the textbook and to instead use a picture book “The Ant Bully“. Since our strategy for the week is predicting that is what I wanted to focus on with the read aloud. BUT-it is HARD to predict when the majority of the kids have seen the movie!!!!!!!!!!!! So really we just enjoyed a good read aloud today!!! Gotta remember that for next time! πŸ™‚

Strategy- We created an anchor chart for our predictions for the story. They talked with their partner about their predictions, wrote them on a sticky note, and placed on the chart (forgot to take a picture!). I discussed the difference between simple and complex predictions and the importance to KEEP predicting as they read a text!

Question of the Day-Discussed this. The question was “Why is it important to stay calm during a crisis”.

Skill-We read the skill story (short 1 page) in the textbook and practiced the strategy and skill for the week. Then we did a sequencing worksheet together using the ELMO.

Small groups-We had about 35-40 minutes left in class to do small group instruction. I only pulled 2 groups of 4 students each in each class. Not everyone will be pulled in a small group each week-it just depends on their needs. I used the below level leveled reader which has the same vocabulary that is in our weekly story. It’s also to build background knowledge. The title was “Rip Current Rescue”. I read it aloud to them while they followed along. We only got to page 8 out of about 20!!! Why do them make such a loooooong leveled reader if we only are supposed to use them on Mondays and Fridays??? I won’t be using them on Fridays, just Mondays. Anyway-we made predictions, inferred, discussed vocabulary. Then they had to go and partner read the rest of the book (the 2nd group will partner read tomorrow). It went VERY WELL!!!!!!!!!!! I even had one of my reluctant readers ask if he could take it home and finish it because he liked it!!!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!! He ended up finishing it at snack this afternoon!!! πŸ™‚


Check back tomorrow to see if it goes just as well! πŸ™‚

Read and Write 180-Day 38

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I’m really trying to concentrate on writing this post at 11:45 pm, but it sure is hard with Jimmy Fallon on television-he just makes me laugh because he gets so tickled!!! πŸ™‚

ok-I’m REALLY trying! πŸ™‚ I want whatever happy pills he must be taking!

Commercial…here it goes.

English-labeled sentence-Jack and Jill ran up the hill. How easy was that? They are getting pretty good! πŸ™‚ Then they had to make up a sentence with an action verb (I asked for strong verbs)-here’s what I got.

ran(that was soooooo strong being able to copy it off the board!!!!)



can’t remember the rest

Read a whole chapter from 6th Grade Can Really Kill You (We’re near the end). They HATE it when I close that book each day! πŸ™‚ I love having the POWER! I actually think they are becoming great little predictors (and getting into it). Now I hope they can just start doing a lot of predicting WHILE they read on their own. It makes reading so interesting.

We finished our reading passage today-“Field Day Champion”. We continued the reciprocal teaching like yesterday-whole class. The wonderful thing about reading short passages (1 or 2 pages) instead of 12-14 page reading stories from the textbook is that we have time to break it down, clarify things by looking back in the passage for evidence, discussing our thinking, etc. I love working with passages instead of looooong stories right now. I know that I still need to pull some long stories this year, but they will be few and far between. Their longer text they get is from their choice books they check out. πŸ™‚

I showed them some more of the format of how to structure the reading response letters. I know they are bored with it (I am, too), but hey-it’s gotta be done!

Another great day of small group instruction!!

CAFE mini-lesson#1-Visualizing-I had a pre-made anchor chart with thinking stems on it. I want them to know to use all 5 of their sense when they visualize and write about it. I did a short lesson based on Tanny McGregor’s book Comprehension Connections (LOVE this reading strategy book) by using a seashell-a very big one! I held it up and had them focus in on it-we made pretend binoculars around our eyes to be able to focus on looking at it. Then I had them think about the “setting” of where this shell would probably be (ocean/beach). They had to think about what they might see, hear, taste, feel, smell. After that I shared my visualization with them-it was hard to bring myself back from that beach let me tell you! πŸ™‚

Round#1-Group#3-Same as yesterday

CAFE mini-lesson#2-They wrote their visualization down in a quick write (1 1/2 minutes)-then they shared. There were some good ones-I really hope this is helping them understand that they can’t just write-“I can see the ocean”. They have to describe it vividly so that other people can visualize it.

Round#2-Group#4-Same as yesterday

Met with only 1 student individually(advanced one). We chose 2 goals for her to work on-Fluency-reading with expression and Expanding Vocabulary-voracious reading. We also talked about a plan on how she would meet these goals. We decided that for every chapter she reads in her choice book she will go back and read 1 page out loud to practice reading with expression. Then SHE decided to be able to read voraciously(she loves to read) she will ALWAYS keep 2 books with her so that she never runs out of books! LOL!

Now I’m thinking to myself just now that it would be VERY BENEFICIAL if everyday we could talk as a whole class about the individual conferences and goals that were set and plans that were made-then other students would hear what other students were doing and it might spark some thinking!!!!!!!!!! This is deep thinking on my part at 12:09 am! πŸ™‚

Here are the pictures I took of my metacognition and visualizing anchor charts that are hanging in the classroom now.


Read and Write 180-Day 37

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pretty good Monday! Started with getting a lot done on my planning period this morning and ended with my daughter’s volleyball team winning tonight! πŸ™‚

Here’s what went on in between.

We only spent about 15 minutes today on word study AND english! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are focusing on action verbs this week(trying to keep it simple again so as to not overwhelm their little brains).

We moved right along to our read aloud-spent about 15 minutes on this. YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moved right along to our whole group reading. We practiced our reciprocal teaching (sort of) with our Β passage. We did this in whole group. So I read a section of our passage out loud (while they followed along). We all did the job roles at the same time. So before we read we made predictions-wrote them on our sheet-shared. I read. We summarized-wrote them down-shared. We generated questions before continuing to read-wrote them down-shared. I read the next section. We connected and/or clarified-wrote it down-shared. We will do this tomorrow with the rest of the passage. I think last week I sort of threw them to the wolves by having them work in small groups before modeling it a BUNCH!!! I tend to forget sometimes that I can’t just “tell” them how to do something even though they are in the 6th grade-I still need to “show” them. πŸ™‚

Moved right along to our writing time. This week I’m going back over how to write their reading response letters on their choice books. Maybe next week we can do some kind of jazzy writing-I’m tired of procedural writing (if that’s even what it’s called?). I want to do some FUN kind of writing!!!!! BUT-the majority of them still need to see what good writing looks like on these response letters so they can improve!


1. CAFE mini-lesson#1-I talked to them again about metacognition -thinking about your thinking. This was short.

2. Small group#1-We read 2 pages of a short story in a “Spotlight on Literary Elements” book that I bought from Really Good Stuff. We REALLY talked about our thinking as we read it. It’s so funny because it’s not even a story that I thought they would be interested in, but they couldn’t stand the fact that we had to stop and not find out what was going to happen next. If only I can get them thinking about their own books and wondering and prediction and being interested! πŸ™‚

3. Mini-lesson#2-I read the 1st 2 pages of a chapter book-My Life as a Book-I modeled my thinking out loud for them. Maybe this “thinking while you’re reading” thing will catch on eventually! πŸ™‚

4. Small group #2-Same thing as group#1

I only conferenced with 1 individual student in my homeroom class-none in my 2nd class. The only way I’m going to be able to fit this in is to just pull one small group per day. Yesterday, I worked on dividing my classes into small groups. I had really wanted them to be “small” groups so I made a total of 5 groups with plans to pull 4 of the groups twice each week and the 5th group(advanced) each Friday (if I have time). I thoroughly enjoyed working with my 2 small groups in each class today-BUT I still believe that the individual conferences will have the GREATEST benefit.

So, do I combine the groups so that I only have 3 small groups with 1 being the advanced and only pull them once a week? If I do that I will have about 9 students in each group.

Here are the negatives for that:

***It becomes not so much a small group

***We will have to sit on the floor because there won’t be enough room at my table.

Here are the positives:

***I will have time to individually conference with each child EACH week-setting goals, checking progress, individualizing their reading plans, etc.

I might try to combine them next week and see. What do you think? How do you work your small groups in an upper grade???

Small group lesson plan template

I think I have got what I want-“I think”.

Last year we were asked to begin small group instruction in 4th-6th grade(it is already in place in K-3). They talked to us about it around October. I really did try to implement it, but I was also trying to follow our reading program and there just wasn’t enough time to get everything in after whole group instruction. Is there ever enough time????

I think I taught small groups about 6-7 times if I remember correctly-the kids seemed to enjoy it, and I really felt like I knew more about my students in just those few times then I ever did during whole group. So I am pledging to spend lots more time teaching small groups and working with individual students this upcoming year. I hope that I can follow through on this-there just seems to be so much to teach (and I’m departmentalized-only teaching reading, english, spelling, and writing). Self-contained classrooms have it a whole lot tougher! πŸ™‚

I really want to get to know my students (all 48 of them); their strengths, their weaknesses, their likes, their dislikes…..

Small group instruction will be the biggest challenge-especially if I teach them what “they” need help with (and not just what my teacher guide tells me to teach).

Here is a screenshot of my small group lesson plan template that I just made.

Here is the word document:Β SmallGroupLessonPlanTemplate

Here is the pdf document:Β SmallGroupLessonPlanTemplate

The only other lesson plan template that I need to create is one for the 1st 6 weeks of school. This one will be entirely different from the others since I really want to introduce A LOT of things to my 6th graders (note that I said “introduce”-not teach to mastery) before we buckle down and dig in!

CAFE small group

I’m still not sure what my plan of action is going to be this year concerning small group instruction. Our reading program, Reading Street, calls for a version of leveled guided reading. This is what their plan looks like:

Scott Foresman Reading Street small group reading

1. Kids are grouped according to reading level ability

2. They are all reading the same leveled reader within their group during small group instruction. Essentially, you read with the group of kids, show them how to fill out a worksheet, send them out to fill out the worksheet, maybe meet with them again to go over the worksheet-then the process starts all over

3. “Most” of the provided leveled readers are non-fiction (and not too interesting, I might add!). They are not easy to read, and I really haven’t seen too much of a difference between the below level and on grade level ones

4. Kids can be re-assessed every 6 weeks and moved into different groups based on the assessment

CAFE small group reading

1. Kids are grouped according to the reading strategy that they need help with (visualizing, summarizing, etc)

2. They are all reading their own independent books(that they have chosen). You teach them what they need to know at that given time-this could be going back over a whole class lesson that you feel they need again, showing them a different way to use a certain strategy, practicing a strategy for mastery, etc.

3. Since they are reading books they have chosen, they are reading on their level of comfort

4. Kids can be changed from group to group whenever you feel they have mastered a strategy-this can be done OFTEN


So, having said all of that I’m not sure how I want to design my small group instruction. I see pros and cons of both types! (Isn’t this always the case???) πŸ™‚

It would be EASY to follow the Reading Street plan because it is already layed out for you-day by day by day…. However, how did those people that created that plan know my kids? Did they get together with them over the summer and see what they needed and create a plan based on that? NO! So what if I follow the small group daily plan and just waste their time??? What is the benefit in that?

On the other hand, if I truly want to teach each child what THEY need to know and practice, I would be planning EVERY DAY! WOW! Would that be too time consuming? There’s already so much to do anyway. Hmmmm…..

Maybe I should do this (since this whole post is my thinking out loud):

1. Definitely group the kids according to what they need to work on and what they need help withΒ 

2. Sometimes use the leveled readers (if they support what I am teaching the kids), sometimes use magazines, articles, poems, essays, sometimes let them use their choice books-vary it depending on what I’m doing with them during group time

3. Continuously observe and talk with individual students (this is informal assessment) to be able to know what group they need to be in-try for a weekly reflection time on my part for all of my students to make sure that they are not part of a group working on a strategy that they have already mastered

4. Talk to the kids about what they think they need to work on-hopefully this will not blow their minds since I will begin week 1 of school talking to the kids!!!

I have high hopes in reaching every child this year and guiding them from where they are to where they need to be!