Who Does Small Groups in Middle School?

I do, I do! I’m not talking about pulling a small group of students together to discuss questions they missed on an assignment or test. I’m talking about, station rotation, differentiated, targeted assistance small group.

I started the year out by asking students what they expected out of math class. Many of them stated centers and games as an expectation, which made me excited. I knew at least I had buy-in.

The first couple of times we conducted small group there wasn’t a lot of differentiation going on. I didn’t have students sit in specific areas to complete the various activities, they pretty much had free reign.
I quickly learned that working independently was a struggle for many and without proper structure this element would not be effective.


By the time the plans above were implemented, I established specific locations in the room students would sit to complete the assignment. By then, students knew why they were grouped in this manner and from where I got the data for the groupings.


With each passing week came a new layer to add more structure to the process. Group captains were established for two purposes: keep their group on track and to be the “go to” person within their group for help. The captains were identified with an astriek. I tried to be strategic about who was picked. It ranged from the person who is normally off task and would benefit from having a job to do, to the natural leader in the group who can easily influence the other group members. I also selected those who like to fall back into the shadows of others.


Students had to complete a technology contract in order to use the technology in my room. They are the ones highlighted for easy recognition.

And after my recent visit to #EdCampATL and speaking with @Natasha_Neffy about Transformational Teaching, I’ve implemented a new layer. Student selected groups. It came at a perfect time as we had just finished our unit assessment. I asked students to rate themselves on 3 learning targets. Using the ratings, students signed themselves up for the group which would focus on the their least understood target.



Most students had an accurate perception of their understanding, while others needed a little help. Those students who did not pass the unit posttest were switched to a group focusing on the learning targets covered on the assessment. I plan on sticking with this concept of student selected groups. Eventually, I would like for my students to be such independent thinkers that they select their activities as well.

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