Scheduling & groupings … it’s enough to give a special education teacher nightmares! It is very challenging to meet everyone’s needs when our students come to us with a wide range of skills. There just isn’t enough time in the school day to only run groups where everyone is on the same skill. Wouldn’t that be nice?! Here are some ideas on how to successfully run groups where you are targeting different levels all at the same time in the same group.
I have two very distinct groupings in my classroom…. I have one group who is able to read at least 20 sight words and has moved past matching and labeling to a higher level of language and skills. The other group of students are working on letters & sound recognition, labeling pictures, attending in a group, etc. I try to schedule different groups and lessons for my students, but our schedule doesn’t always allow for it. I end up having to run one or two groups a week with students from both groups and guess what…. it works!! You can meet all of your students’ needs in one group. Here is an example of how I run one of my groups.
This is an example of how we work on theme related vocabulary in my classroom…
We start by having everyone coming to sit in front of our standing white board. The only things on the white board are the theme word wall cards that we are going to be talking about. The theme words in the pictures are from our Fire Safety Unit. We work on 10 words at a time.
We begin by reviewing what the pictures are on the word wall cards. We generally do this as a group simply labeling while I point, one by one, to the pictures. (In a previous group, we have taught the pictures and discussed their functions, features, categories, details, etc.) Next, we work on coming up with a sentence about one of the pictures. I try to begin with a picture card that the whole group knows something about. Since we have been having a lot of fire drills I chose to start with that card.
1) I ask the group who can tell me something we do during a fire drill. A student came up with the answer that we line up at the door. I call on a student to tell me what letter starts the word ‘We’ while I exaggerate the sound. I chose someone from the group who is working on letter sounds. Then call on another student who is working on spelling to tell me the next letter(s) in the word. I do this several times throughout the group to keep everyone engaged.
2) The words ‘at’ and ‘the’ are spelling words for some of the students. I ask them to spell the words aloud while I write to make sure they have generalized that skill.
3) When we are writing a word from the word wall cards, I have a student who is working on letter recognition read of the letters to me. It is important to practice recognizing letters when they are clumped together and not just in isolation.
4) After we wrote the sentences, we practiced following verbal directions. Here, I asked one student to circle all of the periods. He needed to demonstrate understanding of periods and “all”.
5) This is a great time to work on capitals, too. We talk a lot about what type of letter goes at the beginning of sentences. Then, when we do scrambled sentences the next day I am looking to see which student tells me it is the word with the capital letter.
6) As your students questions about the function of one of your vocab words. In this instance, I asked, “Which one does water comes out of?” The students answered water, so we wrote out sentence about hose. This time, instead of giving the card to the student I asked a student to read me the letters from where he was sitting. Having more distance between the reader and the text is more challenging, so I chose a beginning reader to spell it this time.
7) As if all of this wasn’t enough, we also talk about the periods with each sentence. We talk about why we use it and what it looks like.
While we cover a ton of different things in this group, the whole group is only 15 to 20 minutes long. As we write the sentences, we keep going back to the beginning of the sentence and read the words aloud. This helps the non-readers stay engaged while letting them hear and see the words.