Wednesday, December 31, 2008
How to Pull Small Groups in Kindergarten
I do a group rotation every day. There are four groups, and everyone is in a group. One table is for language arts, one is for math, one is for a social studies or science related art project, and one is for either an independent activity with a manipulative or some type of reading or math game or activity with a volunteer. If no volunteer shows up to help, then I give the children a manipulative to play with, such as pattern blocks, unifix cubes, or puzzles.
During this rotation, I do the language arts table activity myself, (like guided reading or writing, or a worksheet, etc.). I have another group doing an art project, hopefully with a volunteer but possibly independently if necessary. There is always a manipulative, like pattern blocks or unifix cubes for them to play with when they finish. They are not allowed to pick out another toy instead.
For math, my aide usually does a follow-up activity with my kids. I introduce the concept and also practice it whole group either before we begin our small groups, or on the previous day. Then a helper does the follow up with manipulatives in a small group during our rotation.
The fourth table is a follow up activity of another sort, usually a reading or math game that they can play with a volunteer. If a volunteer doesn't come, I give them puzzles or some other type of manipulative to play with independently. It's much harder when a volunteer doesn't come, but it can work if you need it to work. The teacher of the RSP class at my school also likes to send her kids over to help the Kindergarteners as a means to increase their self-esteem, so sometimes I get one of those kids. They love it! And usually, they really can be of use and are helpful to me!
As for what types of activities I do each day of the week, this is a very rough schedule of how I organize my plans:
For the language arts table:
Mondays: Guided reading groups. (I have them ability grouped on Mondays for sure, and then only ability group them on the other days if I need to.
Tuesdays: A CVC worksheet that has the same sight words included on it as are in our reader for the week. As the kids work on it, I have each of them read all of the sentences on it individually to me. These are worksheets that I made up for this purpose. OR, I give them a little xeroxed reading book out of paper that has the word in it that they need to work on. I have them looking for specific sight words in it and have them color those words certain colors. The books are repetitive, so they usually find mostly the same words on each page. So, they would color all of the word "the" that they find yellow, and the word "can" red, etc. While they are looking for these words, I ask each of them to read the booklet to me individually.
Wednesdays: We always do guided writing on Wednesdays. To find out exactly how I do this, I would recommend that you check out my last blog entry on writing with Kindergartners. I described the whole thing there in detail.
Thursdays: We do some type of CVC activity, such as making our own CVC booklets or play a memory game with CVC words, etc.
Fridays: We review whatever is needed on Fridays. If they don't need to review something, sometimes we play a phonemic awareness game or activity. If I have some testing to do, I might give them rhyming word puzzles or a color word worksheet to do while I do some individual testing.
At our math table, I usually have my aide play games with them regarding our math unit that we are working on. I have card games like "Bang" and Bingo for number recognition; I have some problem solving boxes with manipulatives in them; I have games for comparing sets, etc. A lot of these games are on my Musical Math Resource CD that you could get if you wanted to have a bunch of games to print out. We spend one day a week just working on writing numbers, and another day each week putting numbers in order. I keep a list of what number the kids have mastered putting them in order up to, and I have each kid work on a bag of numbers that is right for them- either 0-10, 0-20, or 0-30. That leaves three days per week just working on other types of skills, like addition or telling time, etc.
Then there is the art table. I always have an art project prepared. Most of the time, they are working on making a page in a book that they will get to take home and read when they are all finished. I almost always have them working on a "Singable Book" that we read/sing together daily. These books tend to revolve around our science or social studies theme, but I do have one rhyming words book that they do, and a couple of math books that they also make. These books, the songs that go with them, and the masters for the books are all going to be available on my website within a couple of weeks. The CD is being printed now and is called "Little Songs for Language Arts," since it will have some phonemic awareness songs on it also, in addition to the singable books. The resource CD with the masters and directions for the books will be called, “Printable Projects.”
The fourth table is the "extra" activity one that is run by a volunteer, if I have one. The activity that they do depends a lot on the skills of the volunteer I get on each day. Some of them love to just play bingo with the kids, and I have developed quite a lot of different bingo games that follow my curriculum closely. One of my volunteers is a teacher that is staying home with her kids for a while. She always does a Sing and Spell the Sight Words worksheet when she comes. These are worksheets that follow my Sing and Spell the Sight Words CD's, and they are on the HeidiSongs Resource CD. All they are is just the words to the songs, with the "target" word left out, as in a cloze activity. So the kids sing the song with her, and then try to track the words to the song written on chart paper. They find all of the target words that they can find on the chart, and underline them with Wikki Stix. Then they each have a Sing and Spell booklet with those worksheets in them. They find the correct page, and fill in the missing word over and over. So if the song is about the word "go," then they would be writing the word several times within the context of the song, and then try to read the song back to that volunteer. If there is extra time, they use magnadoodles and review some of the words from previous weeks by singing the songs together and writing the words.
Also, once a week, I have a dad that comes and takes the kids out for motor development, too. So instead of working with them at that extra table, he takes them outside and does motor development activities with them during that 15-20 minutes. We have lots of equipment and a program to follow, so it works out well.
If you are a new teacher and are just getting started trying to pull groups, you can feel free to email me personally with any questions! I know how hard it is to get started, and how confusing it can be. But it is really worth the trouble getting the kids into groups! During the first few days of group rotations, I try to keep my instructional expectations quite low; my objective instead is that they learn what group they are in, what I expect of them, and how to rotate from one table to another. When I am done with one group, I ring a bell, and that means that everyone should start cleaning up and stand behind their chairs when they are done. I play some Sing and Spell song or Musical Math songs while the kids are cleaning up. As they are done cleaning they spot, they stand up and sing with me, staying behind their chair. Once everyone is finished cleaning up and is singing along, I play one more song, and then tell them to rotate to their next spot. There always seems to be one or two kids that are perpetually “lost,” with no idea where they are going next. I assign that child a “buddy” in his or her same group, and give the buddy the job of taking the lost little “lamb” with him when he goes to the next table. It works for me!