Teaching: Small Groups & Risk Taking

I've changed my teaching style slightly this week.  I've never been a stand in front of the class kinda guy.  I've never even been a big whole group instruction guy.  I used to teach READ! 180, which is all small group, individual instruction, and that really shaped my teaching.

Recently, I've been told that my weekly TAP cluster (pro. dev.) training will be all about the Workshop Model (not sure if this is the best site, but it is the one I read on the topic).  I decided I'm already doing much of it in some way, shape or form.  However, I decided that the targeted teacher led small group piece needed improvement.  So I rearranged my room, which went well with my recent lighting upgrade (post coming soon).  I now have a rug in the front of my room (thanks to Ms. Woods!) with a small circle of chairs.  The rest of my room has 4 large tables for small group work and one kidney table. [Not sure why I have the kidney table other then they are hard to come by and I don't want to lose it.]

The past three days, I've had Moodle assignments posted for students.  None of it is new learning but reinforcement of concepts already learned.  Each day, I've met with small groups for a few minutes at a time, not more than 10.  That way, I was able to get to each student in class.

Here's what we did in small group:

6th & 7th grade: We are working on Visual Thinking Strategies.  Day one, we practiced in small group on the process.  Day 2, we checked in with Moodle to share and discuss and make sure we were doing the right things.  Day 3, we demonstrated mastery of the topic

8th grade: We have been working on descriptive writing, metaphors and human qualities.  Small groups of students met each day to share the writing that they had, finished or not.  They got feedback to make sure they were following rubric, what was outstanding and what could be improved.

The success!

All but 3 students out of my 75 in three classes were willing to come to the small group, present their original ideas and listen to feedback from peers.  It was truly amazing.  Even my quiet shy students were able to step up, have courage, and share.  It was awesome.

I'll be doing more of this.  Thank you to all my students who are willing to take risks!!!