While out in the field, Renee’ and Tammy Fellers discuss their on-going work with small group math time and workstations. They share ideas about the structure, organization and expectations for small group time. Their discussion also includes information on student accountability during small group time.
Listen in as Tammy and Renee’ discuss:
The Need: Why have small group time in math?…in a perfect world it might not be necessary but in reality classrooms consist of individual children with individual needs. Some students need to spend more time on a concept, some need remediation on a concept, and some need to be pushed to explore more difficult concepts. Because all these children exist in one room, usually with one teacher, there has to be a structured time to best serve the needs of the students.
The Structure: Students need to know the expectations and routines. Teaching these expectations takes time. Tammy and Renee’ suggest not rotating stations on a timer. Not every student learns or processes at the same rate. They believe in creating a system where students rotate individually when they have met the learning goal for that station. No student is too young for this; it is being used successfully in kindergarten classrooms. One key to success in this area, is to teach and practice the routines.
Student Accountability: At each station, expect students to be accountable and record their learning. This will look different depending on the activity at the station. The recording does not need to be lengthy. It should not impede the learning but should solidify and explain the students’ learning. Expect students to keep a folder that tracks their accountability sheets.
Engaging Activities: Each station should have a purpose, learning goal and or objective. Students can tell the difference between when they are “filling time” and when the activity is meaningful.
Variety: Vary the concepts in each of the stations. Also, vary the learning styles students use.
Small group learning time is a great opportunity for differentiated instruction. Teachers do not have to require every student go to every station. Teachers can assign students which stations to complete based on individual learning needs. During this time, teachers are also able to work with specific students who need additional instructional on a concept.