I am looking for tips on how to group students for small groups and still have time to meet with all of the different groups. I have 13 students from grade 1 to grade 9. Ability grouping means that some of my lower ability students would be grade 1 grouped with grade 5, and grade 8 grouped with grade 4. Although younger students think this is great, not so much with the teenagers! Help?






I would suggest rather than meeting with small groups for reading, you consider individual conferring. Ten minutes (or less for younger students) of focused instruction is much more effective than a longer time with a group where everyone’s needs are a bit different.
For example, I would imagine that the accuracy strategies are different for your younger students than your older kiddos. When talking with older versus younger students about vocabulary, I would expect the language you use would be different.
After you determine the levels of each child and which strategies they have and are needed, I’d suggest using the CAFE menu (assuming you use CAFE along with Daily 5) to determine which strategies are most needed. Even if you aren’t using CAFE, planning for appropriate instruction is so much more effective in one on one conferring.
For most of us, moving from groups to individual conferring takes a bit of a mindset shift, but I think you’ll see the benefits both in the success of the students and in their self confidence about learning.
Does this help?

Joan Moser

HI! I have taught multi-age for a large amount of my teaching career, it is my favorite. Since you have such a small class, I would concur with Suzanne and not group students together at all! Individual conferring is and always will be the very best way to meet student’s needs. This way you can tailor their instruction to their specific needs and use books and text that is at their individual good-fit level. Also keep in mind the brain research: The average number of minutes your students are in age is the average number of minutes for any lesson, up to 10 minutes. So your first graders cannot grasp concepts when the instruction is over 6 minutes. Your 10,11,12 year olds, no more than 10minutes! Here is the instructional protocol we use: https://www.thedailycafe.com/articles/coaching-toward-a-target-the-protocol-for-teaching

terri harding

Thanks for the response, from both of you.
Joan I really do love CAFE, and Daily 5 and have been working on Math as well.
It does work very well in my class and has been an absolute life saver.
I was looking for tips on grouping because even though I have small numbers of students- that doesn’t make my work less, I still have to prepare and plan for the same number of grades, I just spend less time at the photocopier.
I know how important small chunks of instruction are for growing understanding. Initially your responses, left me disappointed and even more frustrated if that is even possible.
I might teach in a small class compared to many other classes but I still teach these same students all the same subjects that all of the students in a regular sized class might be taught, I am the only teacher and I am working without an aid.
On any given day I am teaching:
three different differentiated Science curriculums,
6 different math curriculums,
three Social studies curriculums,
meeting individually to conference for writing and reading,
introducing/reviewing spelling/phonics/grammar/punctuation concepts to 5 different grades ( I currently have no students in grade 2,4, 6, 7,)
teaching a Quality Daily Physical Education that is both interesting and appropriate for kids in grade 1 and 9,
three different Health and wellness classes,
and Art.
Not to mention, advanced Language Arts to two students in grade 9 who could probably challenge grade 12 if that was an option, meeting throughout the day with beginning learners in all of these subjects and teaching age appropriate English language vocabulary to all of them through the day since they are all English Language Learners.
and my little sweetie-pie who has a severe expressive/receptive language delay, and her brothers who struggle with ADHD.
And now that I am looking at all that I get done in a day I am feeling like maybe I shouldn’t have asked the question.
I should accept that I do grouping just fine, and it works for me.

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