Imagine you’ve got six students in a guided reading group and discover one more with similar needs or reading at the same level. Why not just make room to pull up an extra chair?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid ever creating small groups that have more than six students. Try to stick closer for four whenever you can. When small groups become medium sized groups, the effectiveness is diluted and the instruction tends to take longer. Even if making smaller groups means you see your students slightly less often, the quality of the instruction and the interaction will be more meaningful and personalized when you do.
There’s a reason that those guided reading books come in 6-packs, not 7-packs or 8-packs. Six or fewer students will allow you to make the most impact in a short amount of time. Smaller groups allow you to think more deeply about each individual student and give them the attention they need.
- If many students (12 or more) have a common need consider addressing it through whole group instruction.
- If some students (4-12) have a common need consider small group instruction.
- If you have more than 6 students with common needs or at the same guided reading level divide into more than one small group. It’s far better to have two smaller groups of 4 readers each than one large group of eight.
- If only a few students (1-3) have a common need, consider using individual conferences to maximize efficiency and differentiation.
When your small groups are truly small, you’ll be able make a greater impact in a shorter amount of time which means your students can get back to the important work of independent reading more quickly.
Resist the urge to super-size your small groups. Small means small.