Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mini Series: Small Group Instruction Data Collection and Role of Support Staff

In my self contained (Federal Setting 3) classroom, I like to include a variety of learning opportunities for students throughout the day.  Students work independently, 1:1 or 1:2 with an adult, in small groups with 3-8 students, or together as a whole class (13 students).  When I first started teaching, I didn't dare to have any small groups regularly scheduled into my day because my students didn't seem I wasn't ready.  My students didn't have the skills to sit together without fighting or jumping up and running away from the table...and in the beginning, I didn't realize this was something I could teach them.  Small groups can be difficult to implement in a special education classroom without clear planning and prioritizing of your goals...you have students of varying abilities, students who don't get along socially, not to mention students who don't have pre-requisite functional skills for participating in a group.

Throughout this mini series, I wanted to focus on how to set up/plan for small group instruction. As you start to create your vision of what you want your small groups to look like and what your goals for your students are, I think it is important to make sure you relay this information to your paraprofessionals so they can help you in carrying out your vision whether they are supporting a small group you are leading or running one that you have set up for them.

1.  Establishing Big Picture Goals and Grouping Students 
2.  Establishing Rules/Routines/Norms for the Group 
3.  Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques 
4.  Curriculum and Planning
5.  Data Collection and Role of Support Staff

You are almost ready to roll out your small groups for the school year.  You have your goals, routines, plans, and now we just need to make sure all of our adults are on the same page and we can monitor our students' progress through data collection.  When reading some of the roles/responsibilities listed below, keep in mind that the "lead teacher" may be the classroom teacher or a paraprofessional you have chosen to run a group that you have planned.  It could also be a clinician (SLP, OT, etc.) or a prep provider (gym, music, art teacher, etc.)

The role of the Lead Teacher is to facilitate the group:
1) Prompts students naturally (may repeat the question, give a lead in to the answer, etc.)
2) Attempts to manage challenging behaviors alone first (specific behavior plans or antecedent interventions may need to be run by support staff)
3) Completes error correction if needed
4) Directs other staff as to what is needed

The role of the Support Staff  is to support the Lead Teacher:
1) Collect data on IEP goals
2) Collect data on challenging behaviors
3) Prompt students (as needed following the direction from the lead teacher)
4) Should remain quiet and refrain from talking to the students/other staff
5) Should be sitting behind students and fading themselves further away from the table/learning area to allow students to increase independence.

Data collection can be done in many ways during small groups by the lead teacher and/or support staff:
1) Have one sheet where all your students are monitored for the same list of goals (you can use some of the classroom skills goals or social skills goals from your curricular map)
2) Have individualized data sheets for specific goals you are monitoring for each students
3) Use ABC or student specific behavior data collection forms to document any challenging behaviors
4) Have support staff grade worksheets (for completion or accuracy) and document scores in a gradebook
5) Use school wide assessments (i.e. for reading levels, spelling development, math facts) periodically to check on progress

What other roles/responsibilities do you give your support staff?  What other tips do you have regarding data collection during small groups?

This wraps up our mini-series on small group instruction, make sure to check out the other 4 posts in this series if you are looking for more information on implementing small groups in your classroom.

1 comment:

  1. You did such a good job on this series, I knew it..but needed a reminder and you provided a very nice organized presentation, it has helped me to get my ducks in a row. thank you very much, Paula