Part 7: Act 3 – Pump Up the Jam!


You have arrived! Your students are ready; you are ready. It is time to individualize instruction and pull small groups. Once students can accomplish Act 2 to an 85% – 90% level of successfulness (and only then), they are ready for Act 3. In this stage expectations have not changed, there is simply a third activity added. Students’ responsibility is consistent with what they have accomplished in the second stage of independent practice. In this act you will pull your first small group; and just as in the 3rd act of a play, all things developed in the prior two acts will come to full bloom. That is what this stage is all about, your freedom to now pull a group of students to offer individualized and differentiated instruction while the remaining students work effectively as independent learners. Here is what that session may look like:

Act 3 – Stage 3:

  • Review the rules and routines. Review the expectations for both activities and how to manage materials.
  • Remind students of the focus. Begin the session by explaining what students will focus on regarding the previous day’s debrief.
  • Start the session. Give the signal for students to begin the session. Remember to try to keep independent practice at the same time each day.
  • Implement one small instructional group session. Implement your small group; focusing your attention on your instruction and not on the room. Though you remain aware of what is happening in the room, make a mental note of what needs addressing during the debrief and move on with your instruction. Most importantly, trust the work you and your students have done together to get to this point. Allow your students to problem solve and to work things out on their own. This process is great practice for students to learn how to be independent learners and how to monitor their productivity and work habits.
  • Observe the practice. After your small instructional group is complete, your role is to be a quiet observer. You are actively monitoring how successful students are able to leave small group, transition into independent practice and how effective the other students are in their independent practice.
  • Close the session. Give the signal for the end of the session. Allow students to manage their materials and to come back together as a whole without your input. Your job is to observe their practice.
  • Debrief the session. Again, the debrief is the most important part of the session. You may ask; “Did we accomplish our goal?” and “How far were we from accomplishing our goal?” Continue with the usual questions and allow students to respond while you facilitate the discussion. Agree, ask clarifying questions, mark important insights, and bring to light any important observations not discussed. Record their responses.
  • Set goals for the next session. The final question is; “What should we focus on for tomorrow’s session?” Allow students to choose what the focus for improving their practice will be. Relate goals either to the rules or the procedures of the practice. Keep it simple! Have them come up with solutions to the problem notating each and post your agreements.

Keep your expectations high, and remember to be gentle within this process. If you find students are struggling, move back into stage two until they are ready.

By: Terri Hamilton

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