Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Apple a Day - Whole Group Instruction

Hi All,

I'm linking up again with Leigh over at The Applicious Teacher for her weekly summer linky party.  This week the topic is Whole Group Instruction.

If you want to be successful in a first grade classroom, you have to understand that staying on your toes is the name of the game.  It seems like this is more important today than ever.  I always feel like I'm in competition with the fast paced world of gaming.  Kids are on their iPods, iPads, X-boxes, etc.  The worlds these kids enter into when playing with technology are so fast paced, that I feel like I need to be too.  

Having said that, while I think I need to keep moving to keep my kiddos engaged - I think it's also my job to help exercise their little "patience muscles" - I want to really strengthen their "whole body listening".  

We spend a lot of our whole group instruction here...

I love how this area is surrounded by books, my kids are super close to me and they can all see what they need to see {and aren't too far away from it}easily.  I also like how there aren't pencils, crayons and other desk items to fiddle with down there.  BUT...there are those errant staples that you can bet are found and diligently brought up to me - you know, so that I can use them again! HA!

It is on the carpet that we really practice our whole body listening.  Erica over at Erica Bohrer's First Grade created this freebie that I use "down on the carpet".  It's always hung on my easel...front and center and before I start any sort of whole group teaching I say "eyes, ears and lips" and then my kiddos say "whole body listener".  

Click {here} to pick up this freebie from Erica!
Sometimes we sit in a group {our special spots - I always assign a square on the rug that is our special spot} or sometimes we sit in a "circle"  {our squircle spots - it's not exactly a circle, but it's not quite a square so we call them our squircle spots} it all depends on what kind of instruction I'm doing.  If I'm teaching a game that we'll play during our math workplaces, squircle works best.  If we are doing a shared writing activity then we'll sit in our special spots.  If you weren't a teacher, you'd never know that thought is put into this kinda stuff, would you?!

Of course, you have to mix it up during the day.  If we were just sitting at our desks for independent work time, then I want my WGI to be on the carpet. If we were just working around the classroom, then I like for my kiddos to sit at their desks.  Back and forth, back and forth - that's sort of how I plan my day and my WGI.  

I handle WGI at their desks differently.  I feel like I'm more of a performer on stage when I stand "in the front" of the classroom.  If I've got kids way "in the back" I don't want those hands in their desks fiddling. {Although I do know that some kids just need to fiddle to stay focused...have you seen these?}

My all-time favorite fidget!
I allow these fidgets both at desks and on the carpet during WGI.  I'd rather them hold these discretely in their hands {this takes training} than a shoelace in their mouth.

I find myself donning a whole slew of "costumes" during WGI at our desks.  I keep a whole bin of them in my closet...mad scientist hats and goggles, cowboy hats {My southern teaching accent would make you cringe - I'm a Michigan girl!}, various old Halloween costumes {Mrs. Bee has come out to teach many times}you just gotta do what you gotta do.  

As with anything you do in your classroom - whole group instruction needs to be well organized and thought out.  Expectations need to be established.  But the best advice I can give about whole group instruction in a classroom of 5, 6, 7 or 8 year olds?  Keep it "short".  Once those little patience muscles have been "worked out" you can gradually add more time...but brevity is the name of the game.

For other whole group instruction ideas and tips go visit The Applicious Teacher!

I finally finished up my weather pack - it's a great way to supplement your science curriculum!!!!

Check it out over at TpT!



  1. aww! I love that you use costumes! I'll be teaching kindergarten next year and I think they would get a kick out of that! And what a great hook! :)


  2. My kids had a kindergarten teacher who did costumes and I was always so impressed by how it engaged the kids, you can't be afraid to act silly and have fun with the kids! LOVE THIS!!

    The Resource(ful) Room

  3. I love your fidget idea! I tell my kids noooo playing with shoes or anything around them, but it never works out very well! I will have to purchase a couple of these when I got back into the classroom! I hope you are having a great summer!!

  4. Love the squircle!!!! That's perfect!
    And I call my day "Up, down, up, down" because we are either up at our seats or down on the carpet. :)
    LOVE your costumes and enthusiasm. You're the best!

  5. TRUTH!TRUTH!TRUTH! I love that you wear costumes to keep your kiddos engaged! I sometimes feel like I am doing a song and dance all day! Thanks again for linking up and sharing! Just downloaded the poster too! I always say "active listening" but I think the poster is an even better approach!

    The Applicious Teacher


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