Here are a dozen things to consider when setting up and implementing independent and small-group activities in order to foster that result:
- Provide instruction and activities that match students of varying skill levels.
- Assess student progress frequently by monitoring student work and error patterns to identify what needs to be re-taught.
- Avoid using worksheets as the primary focus of small-group work. Worksheets should be kept to a minimum, if not eliminated altogether.
- Establish clear routines for students to follow. Model and practice those routines. Rehearse the expectations and review expectations frequently.
- Notice positive group behavior. Research indicates that teachers should give students more positive comments than negative comments.
- Calmly, quietly, and quickly approach and redirect students who are off task. Use a nonverbal cue, a cue card (see cue card example)
- Use proximity control. The co-teaching environment makes this much more doable.
- Use assessment data to create lesson plans and determine the groups.
- Keep groups small, preferably three to four students to a group. Sometimes it might even be appropriate to have pairs.
- Change groups as students grow or test out of a curriculum section.
- Describe, show an example, or model the expectations for assignments and activities as well as examples of what the outcome should, and should not, look like.
- Correct misbehavior and teach appropriate behavior and expectations (we cannot assume that students know what to do)