An Apple a Day- Whole Group Instruction

I am linking up with Leigh at The Applicious Teacher for her Apple a Day linky. I enjoy reading all the tips from other teachers too as it is a nice reminder of what I need to start doing or things I need to continue doing or get back to doing.
This weeks topic is whole group instruction. Whole group instruction can be really tricky especially since class sizes are continuously growing and because of the growing diversity (special needs, ages, at-risk, ELL, etc) in classrooms.

1. Have a schedule and make sure to follow it. The students know what is coming and how much is left, which helps them to be more attentive.

2. For longer whole group time try to get songs and movement in as much as possible. My circle time for the afternoon class is almost an hour, but that includes calendar time, movement time, a whole group activity or two and story. It is a long time, but we work up to it and I try to stay on one thing for a relatively short time.

3. Make it as interactive as possible. When I taught kindergarten I gave the students white boards to write the missing letters and words in during morning message. I gave them a 100s chart and they counted along. I also have the special helper directing as many of the activities as possible. I also incorporate lots of music. This year I am going to be giving each of my students numerals 1-10 to trace for Dr. Jean's numeral song.

4. Build up to the expected time. Initially circle time starts as 30 minutes for my little ones or less depending on the day and we work up to an hour. When I did writer's workshop we started writing for only 5 minutes and build it up as the year went on. Same thing with all of my whole group instruction.

5. Lastly, if the kids are squirrely and not listening, add some movement and they still don't calm down and refocus don't be afraid to end it early. If that many of the kids are distracted and not listening they are not going to get much out of the lesson. Try again later or the next day.

A lot of this pertains more to circle time, but I think it can be applied to all whole group instruction times. A lot of it is trial and error and depends on the group of students you have from year to year. Have fun and keep it fresh because it keeps the kids on their toes and eager to see what tomorrow brings!

I am looking forward to reading others tips on this because it is definitely an area I feel like I am constantly trying to improve upon. Have a great Sunday!

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