Why Small Groups?
The small group format is important to the success of this intervention. By forming groups (generally 7-8 children) of mixed ability, students with confidence in writing can model for and support students who are struggling. Peer modeling and support are encouraged by asking all students to share their work and having strong students to show others how to form, align, or size letters.
The small group format also allows the adult leader to model for individual students, provide feedback, monitor progress, reinforce students’ efforts, and keep students engaged in their work. The small group format enables the instructor or therapist to carefully monitor the students’ performance, bring specific information about student performance to the planning meetings.
Small Group Procedures
Small group stations are initiated following letter formation instruction.
- It is recommended that the students be assigned a color corresponding to their group membership. Laminated, colored name cards are helpful for the students, occupational therapist, and visiting teachers.
- A timer is used to alert the class when it is time to rotate to a new station. The timer is set nine minutes, to allow one minute to rotate and set-up. It may be helpful for instructors give a verbal warning one minute before the timer alarms to support the students who may have a difficult time with transitions.
- Transitions are smoother if the instructors have the students practice rotating between stations in response to the cue “change stations” prior to implementing the program.
- Valuable observations about student performance and support needs can be collected by having the team make notes about student performance. These observation notes are then used during the planning meeting.
Three small group instructional stations are facilitated to develop underlying skills needed for handwriting:
Activities for each station are determined by the occupational therapist and teachers during their weekly collaborative planning meeting. The activities are those most appropriate to meet the students’ instructional needs. The collaborative process allows for ongoing student assessment and instruction that is guided by student skill acquisition.