In my Science Solutions series, I answer common questions I get from teachers.
I get a lot of questions about how I make my small groups and station groups. It is easy and isn’t easy all at the same time. Once you’ve done it a few times, it goes pretty quickly. I’m going to run through how I group my students when working with NEW content (not reviewing previously learned material…that’s a whole different animal).
I use three things in deciding who will be in a small group with me:
1. Quick Quizzes
2. Notebook Reflections
3. Weekly Quiz Data
A quick quiz is great after teaching new material. We do a lot of Numbered Heads Together and group work, but I need to know which individuals understand.
One or two questions where the students must explain their thinking gives you a lot of insight as to who “gets it”.
Some kids can fake their way through a lesson and don’t really understand the key concepts. Some kids are hard to read, but really bring it when a question is put in front of them. Some kids may still be clinging to misconceptions for dear life. This is a quick way to get an idea of who understands and who doesn’t understand.
This is not a grade and students know that I just use it to see who needs help. If they really don’t know, they are allowed to write, “I need help!” They MUST explain their answers. It takes about 3-5 minutes depending on whether I give 1 or 2 questions.
Then, it’s time for me to take notes. In the example below, I wrote the initial of each homeroom teacher at the top of the page. I put #1, #2, and both. I simply listed the kids’ names below the questions they missed.
The next day when we reviewed, I knew who I needed to check in with and chat with in a small group for even just 5 minutes. I knew who I needed to walk by more times to stare at their notebook inconspicuously. 🙂
It’s been a goal to give students more time to reflect in their notebooks after an activity or lab. Ten minutes of “I learned” time has become a habit in my classroom pretty quickly. They can do anything they want to show what they learned. This is an excellent chance for me to make one minute visits with individuals to check for understanding. I just kneel down next to them at their table and ask them to tell me what they learned. They can show me their illustration, read a sentence they wrote, or just talk to me. It’s low pressure. Love it.
Weekly Quiz data is another way I form groups. I always meet with students who score below an 80. Students are working on recording their quiz data.
I gave Quiz #9 on Day 5 out of 12. It’s a 10 question quiz they take weekly. It’s difficult.
Quiz #1 mainly addressed predicting lunar cycles and comparing and contrasting the sun, Earth, and moon. On Day 9, I planned a Small Group/Stations Day. Students who were unsuccessful on Quiz #1 are on my watch list since Quiz #10 is going to test similar concepts.
Then, I make a plan. Yes, all of this goes into planning for two days of review and reteach. I may have a problem. It does become second nature after a few times.
The plan in the image below is for Day 9. I will use data from both weekly quizzes to determine who I will meet with on Day 10 and 11 for review.