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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of December 30th

posted Dec 27, 2018, 3:50 PM by Courtney Richardson
Challenges of teaching a whole group lesson
There is a seductive efficiency in teaching one lesson to the whole class. Every student receives the same instruction in about 20 minutes. However, teaching whole-class lessons has its challenges. The chart below lists some of the problems of whole-group teaching and offers suggestions for solving these problems.  I hope you find an idea you can use.

Implementing Whole Group Instruction: Challenges & Solutions




I can’t get the lesson done in 20 minutes!

o   Use a timer

o   Be prepared. Use sticky notes to mark places in the book where you plan to model the strategy, and have students practice it with a partner.

o   Be concise. The less you talk, the more they listen.

o   Stop the lesson after 20 minutes and finish it later in the day or on the following day. Students will be less attentive if you extend the lesson beyond 20 minutes.


How can I keep every student listening and engaged?

o   Use kinesthetic activities (hand motions, props, movement, etc.) to keep students involved in the lesson. Individual students or partnerships can stand when they share their thinking. You might think of hand motions to explain something in the text. Including movement keeps students engaged.

o   Use partner talk about every 3-5 minutes.

o   Direct students’ attention to the illustrations. Discuss inferences and conclusions that can be made from text features.

o   Use choral reading and chain responses.

o   Rotate students’ positions on the carpet. Each week have a different group of students sit in the front row.

o   Use talking sticks. Write each student’s name on a craft stick and place the sticks in a cup. When you ask a question, choose a stick from the jar. The student whose name is on the stick responds first.

English Language Leaners

How can I encourage participation from quiet students and those with limited English skills?

o   Form talk partners with dyads and triads that include multi-language levels.

o   Provide sentence stems to support oral responses.

o   Ask students to repeat what another student says.

o   Use a speaker ball or karaoke microphone to increase the speaker’s volume.

o   Always listen to a student’s response before you ask the student to share with the whole group. This reduces the student’s anxiety because you have already approved their response.


Some students aren’t using the strategy independently

o   Always model at the beginning of the lesson. Then do the task with the students several times before you ask them to apply the strategy independently.

o   Gradually release responsibility. Carefully observe students to determine when it is appropriate to give them more responsibility for doing the strategy.

o   Provide different levels of support to individual students so that all of them can be successful participants.

o   Hold students accountable by requiring a short, written response at the end of the lesson. Use these responses to determine how much support you need to provide during small group guided reading lessons.