There are many options for delivering literacy instruction. Whether we choose whole-group, small-group, or one-on-one instruction, we keep in mind that grouping children for instruction is not an end in itself, but a way to effectively and intentionally differentiate, providing just-in-time instruction that meets students at their point of need.
We were not seeing the results we wanted when our groups were based on reading levels. Out of curiosity, we whipped out a blank sheet of paper and started writing down strategies the children needed based on their assessment data. We took note of which children needed similar strategies and an instructional planning form was conceived. This simple form has changed our teaching and our children's reading lives forever.
This Strategy Group form allows us to look at our children in terms of what skills and strategies they need next. We fill it out while assessing our students. Students are added and additional groups are formed as we continue to assess. When our assessments are finished, our flexible groups are organized as well.
The largest section of each box is for the group's lesson plan. As we meet with groups, we record the date, the materials, and the approach we took toward teaching the strategy, as well as the date and plan we have for the next time we want to meet with the group. We use touch points to track student progress. Once students have mastered a strategy, we simply cross out their name and move them to another group that is working on a skill or strategy they need.
The form is simple, completely flexible, and sometimes a bit messy, but it works well for maintaining and managing truly flexible, need-based groups, which current research says should be no larger than two or three children.