We have a strong desire to meet the specific and diverse needs of our students. Early on, as we were creating and refining the Daily 5, we worked with small groups of students who needed to work on the same strategy. Like us, many of you have discovered that grouping students isn't always the best use of their instructional time. We have discovered that we are often able to accelerate progress by conferring with and teaching children individually.
The management of small groups can be a stumbling block for teachers. How many groups should we have? How often do we meet with them? How do we make them truly flexible? What do we do when students are in a group? It can feel daunting to answer these questions, and the time and effort required to effectively plan for and manage groups can be extensive.
There isn't one right or perfect way to meet everyone's needs. If a student works well in a small group and his or her needs can be met, then it is an appropriate use of their time. If their growth would be better fostered through individual conferring, then that is how we meet with them.
What matters the most to us is that we let our students' needs drive our teaching and instructional delivery method, and that we constantly monitor the results of our teaching through the use of a conferring notebook or the CAFE Conferring Pensieve (CCPensieve).