How many students do you have in your classroom right now?We know as special educators that we have kids with all types of needs, abilities, deficits, academic levels, independence levels, social skills, with different IEP goals, objectives and a multitude of different PERSONALITIES and behaviors in our classrooms.
So much of our time is spent working with these children one to one. There are times when we need to work with the entire group of students - no matter what the skill level, age or grade level.
How do we take all of those factors and put them together in a cohesive group so the instruction take place? How do we make it all come together.
Today I want to talk about grouping. With as many students as we often have in our classrooms, and so many levels of students, individualized teaching is often the way to go, but grouping students is still possible even with many different levels.
One of the most common times I need to have all my kids together in one group is during Morning Meeting. So today, I want to focus on ways to differentiate Morning Meeting.
Here are 3 things I have done to make whole group instruction work
1. Morning Meetings on the SmartBoard
Being a tech nerd, I have always tried to integrate new tech equipment into my classroom as soon as it was available. The Smartboard was no exception. I spent many hours searching on the Smartboard share boards for Morning Meeting materials and usually found kindergarten or first grade level materials that would work for my kids.
I had about 10 kids ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade with academic levels no higher than 2nd grade. Most were verbal but some were not and patience for waiting their turn was a hard skill for some to learn. One or possible 2 people at the board - meant others were sitting in their seats in front of the board. This often posed a problem. How do I keep them all engaged and allow the children who are non verbal a way to participate?
- Making almost all of the answers on the SmartBoard drag and drop or push to activate buttons. The SmartBoard allowed the children with low verbal skills an opportunity to go to the board and drag and drop and answers so they too could participate.
- Making individual Smartboards for the kids that had difficulty waiting with individual pieces provided those having difficulty waiting their turn, a similar activity to do while waiting. For example, while the Interactive board was being used to put the days of the week in order, the students with individual "smartboards" were putting their own visuals of the days of the week in order on their boards.
- Today, this is very easy to do with a tablet when necessary. Each student had an iPad with the pages of the Morning Meeting on it and could drag and drop their own pieces where they needed to be.
2. Individual Interactive Morning Meeting Notebooks
Another way I use to include each student in a group activity is to create an individualized interactive notebook for them. We had 5 pages for Morning Meeting in the notebooks.
Page 1 - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Page 2 - Today's Date
Page 3 - My Name is
Page 4 - Today I feel
Page 5 Today's Weather
As skills improved, more pages and higher level skills were added individually and group-wide.
This was great because each child had a notebook designed at their appropriate level and each child was engaged throughout the entire activity.
3. Special Activities in Morning Meeting
On special days when we might be learning about a new topic or holiday, I often made fact books about what we were learning about such as a book about Martin Luther King Jr when we were learning about him.
I made a mini book about the topic using basic sight words as much as possible. Some of the pages would be too hard for some of the students so their books had pages with visuals accompanying the words to make it easier for them to participate and understand the topics.
This way all the students were participating in the activity and on their individual level but we were able to conduct the learning activity as a whole group.
These are just a few ideas that worked great for Morning Meeting activities but also worked well for other activities. Try them out.
What do you do in your classes to make whole groups effective with a myriad of levels?