While at Westwood Primary in Greenwood, Arkansas, I worked with teachers on getting the most from small group instruction. They are reading and studying my book, Making the Most of Small Groups. Look at what they’ve already put into place!
Hats off to Dr. Sarah Turner, Principal, and Suzy Wilson, Assistant Principal, for the amazing collection of guided reading books they’ve provided for teachers at their school. They set up their bookroom in the teachers’ lounge to make the books easy for teachers to access. This is one of the loveliest bookrooms I’ve ever seen! Don’t you agree?
Kindergarten small group alphabet work
A well-organized small group area in second grade
The word wall is easily accessed in this small group area in another second grade classroom
First grade small group teaching in our "classroom makeover" room
Small group in second grade
Teachers' lounge/book room for guided reading books
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This past week I visited Ford Elementary in Denver, CO. Teachers there are committed to creating welcoming classroom environments. We visited classrooms from ECE (4-year-olds) to 5th grade and moved a bit of furniture along the way. I recommend starting with classroom environment at the beginning of the year. It sets the foundation for all the teaching we will do throughout. When we have a well-organized whole-group teaching/meeting area, it is easier to help students focus on what we are teaching.
Likewise, a smal-group teaching area (with everything we need at our fingertips) helps our small-group lessons stay focused and within our time budget. We can minimize interruptions and distractions. One thing to keep in mind is to be sure you can easily see every child in the classroom from your small-group table.
A third space to focus on at this time of year is your classroom library. Does it invite students in to read a book? Is it easy for children to choose just right books and return them to the library for others to easily find? Does the library support reading comprehension, too? You might have a set of fiction shelves and a separate set of nonfiction shelves to get students thinking about genre.
Here are some pictures of our work at Ford:
Welcoming whole-group area in 4th grade
Principal Gilberto and others move small-group table to a better location
"Dead space" in classroom might be perfect for small-group area
"Girl Power" moving small-group table to new spot
Happy teacher in new small-group area
Third grade classroom library with anchor charts
Start of the new nonfiction library shelves in 4th grade as books are sorted with students
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