Monday, February 13, 2012

Small Group Work Part 2: Setting Up Rotations for Small Groups

By Tabitha Carro

Teachers Pay Teachers Store Front: Flapjack Educational Resources

Setting up rotations for small groups means same-ability groups can work with teachers while mixed-ability groups complete center rotations of independent tasks.

For easy rotations, try the method listed below:

Rotation 1: Choose either the triangle or circle group (see Small Group Work Pt. 1 from last week's Featured Article) to take their seats first to work independently. Beforehand, set guidelines so that students resist copying answers from peers. Instead, reinforce peer tutoring during group times.

Rotation 2: The second group goes to the second center. Students know which center to go to by looking at colored cards in the pocket chart. Student helpers rotate cards after groups meet. For example, centers might include Smart Board, cubby corner (different centers to choose from), computers (place a folder on the desktop of each with specific games to address learning concepts), and game table (skills based games).

Rotations can last from 8-15 minutes each depending on how much time is left in the class day and what teachers need to work on with different groups and individuals.

While students are completing rotations, teachers do one of the following:

1) Pull same-ability groups to review new information, work on difficult concepts, or challenge advanced students.

2) Have students who missed similar problems on recent quizzes or tests work together. Quizzes can be photocopied so that teachers can work one-on-one with a child. Also, teachers can use their roll sheets to mark problems missed on assessment tests.

3) Teach time-consuming rules of games to the leveled groups which can be incorporated later into centers.

Make small group rotation simple for students by setting up tables with calculators, dry-erase markers, erasers, individual white boards, a student data notebook, and a three-shelf organizer to store manipulatives needed during instruction. A large white board on the wall is used for extra instructions.


Setting up group rotations should be easy for teachers, and centers should be practical for students. Centers give extra instructional time to students and encourage peer tutoring. Enjoy teaching by using small groups and center rotations!

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