Monday, June 30, 2014

#SBS14 Chapters 3 and 4

Hello All,

Sorry I am a little behind on posting about the Book Study on the Book, Making the Most of Small Group Instruction: Differentiation for All by Debbie Diller. I'm in Illinois as my Mom was supposed to have surgery. They just postponed it until next Monday, July 7, 2014.

So, let's get started. I have to say that I am really enjoying this book. Chapter 3 was about Grouping. This is very important.  Key points about forming your small groups:

  • Use anecdotal notes to help create groups
  • Use formal and informal assessments combined with anecdotal notes and observation 
  • Listen to students read in formal and informal settings
I am really interested in what we will use for testing and progress monitoring next year with the new Journeys reading series.  I really want to track this so I know how my students are progressing and try to find ways to fill in any gaps they may have.

Guidelines for Managing Formal Testing
  • Wait a few weeks if possible
  • Do the "easy" testing first -- starts with students you think will do well may make it go a little faster
  • Engage students in fun activities that require little supervision while you test the other students
    • Write about or draw their favorite things to do, their family, etc.
    • Let them play with play dough on individual mats -- spell their names and other words.
    • Give them stencils or patterns to make their own creation
    • Give them a "back to school" packet with easys fun-to-do review sheets
    • Read books independently or with a buddy (use guest readers such a parents or grandparents)
The next section was Managing Anecdotal notes. There are so many options here. I am going to try the notecards suggestion. I bought colored 4 x 6 notecards. I am going to put them out in front of each student like she suggestions. Then as I listen to each student read I will be able to jot down quick notes and they will be handy right there.  I bought a file box to keep them in my small group teaching area.

I really like her idea for a "flexible flexible groups folder" I really plan to use that with the sticky notes and color coded of course so they are easy to move around and switch groups easily, hence the flexible flexible connotation. 

There's so much important information in this chapter.  She also talks about how many groups and how long you should meet with each group.  The suggestion is 2 groups a day (3 if you can work it in). Each group need only be about 20 minutes. If you're doing kindergarten groups they could be only 15 minutes. She suggests you meet with your students who struggle most every day. Every day may actually be only 4 days as typically Fridays are for assessment. Then you need to gage how many days you need to meet with the other groups.  To keep track of lessons she suggests using a small-group lesson-planning notebook which was described in Chapter 2. I definitely suggest this and plan to do this as well.

Chapter 4 -- Comprehension

Another Chapter with some great information. Comprehension is understanding. As we all know sometimes kids can decode better than some but they lack understanding. They don't comprehend. But what is reading without comprehension? So, it is imperative that we help our students learn skills and strategies that will help them comprehend because really without comprehension you have no purpose for reading. Everyone needs to meet in small groups to learn comprehension. If they are comprehending they need to learn how to go deeper.

What's great about this Chapter is all the sample lessons for many areas of comprehension. She gives great tips about choosing materials. If you can choose books based on student's interests and backgrounds it helps comprehension.  Which would you rather read a book about something you're interested in or a manual for how to operate a toaster? She suggests using both fiction and nonfiction.

There are lessons about:
  • Text Structure
  • Monitoring for Comprehension
  • Schema/Characters We Know
  • Usisng Graphic Organizers
  • Asking Questions
  • Visualizing
One thing that seems really helpful is this chart she has for Prompts for Comprehension. If a student gets stuck you could have a response to help them think rather than giving answers. I liked this chart and wanted to have it readily available so I made one to have handy at my table and when I am lesson planning.

Okay, I give, I can't get that picture to link for me so here's the link to get this document.

I also liked the lesson plan but because it has no disk with it you would have to hand-write them. I try to avoid that at all costs.  So, I typed it up.  All rights go to Debbie Diller. Please do not remove that from the lesson plan.

Here is a link to the typed up lesson plan:

I also liked the section on questions for deeper understanding.  She mentions thick and thin questions. I have used this before.  Here's a link to Pinterest on this very subject!

I'm going to do more research. Maybe I'll have a freebie for you on this at some point.

I have been so wordy and I am not even sure I did these chapters justice. I am excited to put all of these things into practice this new school year.  

What are things you doing to help your students comprehend? What do you do to manage small groups and forming them?  How do you keep records?  I would love to hear your comments.

Please share!