Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whole Group Time–What’s your percentage?

My husband is currently getting his Master’s Degree, in hopes of becoming a certified teacher.  I was helping him with some of the activities in his classroom management class the other day, and I realized that many of the strategies were geared for a class where the teacher is at the front of the room instructing all day.  Then, it occurred to me that my room almost never actually looks like this, so I sat down to figure out the percentage of my day that is spent with me talking to the whole class.  Here’s my schedule.  I have approximately 4 hours of classified teaching contact time with my students a day, which means about 20 hours of classified teaching contact time a week. (Of course we all know teaching also happens in all those in between moments, but I’m just being literal here.)

8:30 – 9:45 – Small Group Math/Independent Math:  My students work on independent math activities – calendar books, problem solving path, math websites, etc. while I pull small groups of students to instruct them at their How much of your week is spent in whole group teachinginstructional level.  Occasionally,  I will use this time to do a fun whole group activity, but I’d say that is about once every two weeks or so.  (8% of the week spent whole group if I use one day each week, 4% if it’s every other week)

9:45 – 10:00 – Minute Math Tests & Calendar Review: My students take their 1 minute Math Fact Tests and then review the day’s calendar book page.  In the beginning of the year, I led calendar myself, but now calendar is led by one of my students.  Still, I’m pretty involved, so I’ll note this 15 minutes as a whole group section.  (4% of the week spent whole group)

10:00 – 10:15 – Snack & Recess

10:15 – 12:15 – Small Group Reading/Novel Studies/ Independent Reading Activities:  My students work on How much of your week is spent in whole group teachingindependent reading activities – vocabulary packets, independent reading, responding in their reading response journals, word work, projects, etc.  Then, I pull them for guided reading or novel study with me.  They also go out for 30 minutes of French and 30 minutes of Arabic during this time, each at different times depending on their Arabic & French levels.  Overall, this whole time is never spent as a whole group activity.  (0% of the week spent whole group)

12:15 – 1:15 – Lunch & Recess

1:15 – 1:45 – Daily Language Review, Grammar/Writing Mini-Lesson:  This is definitely a whole group section of my day.  We work together to build grammar rules, which is especially important to my ELL students.  (13% of the week spent whole group.)

1:45 – 2:30 – Content or Writing:  Once or twice a week, we use this time to do whole group, hands on content How much of your week is spent in whole group teaching?activities that work with our unit.  The rest of the time, this is independent writing time for my students, with me conducting one on one writing conferences with students as needed.  I also use this time to pull students for one on one conferences on blog posts and storybirds – which are ways my students practice writing for homework.  (8% of the week spent whole group if I use one day each week, 16% if it’s two days each week)

2:30 – 3:15 – Enrichment (art, music, drama, P.E.)

3:15 – 3:30 – Read Aloud – Definitely whole group, this is the time of the day we read a book together and I model reading strategies.  (4% of the week spent whole group)

These totals mean that I spend between 31% and 45% of my week in whole group activities – that’s less than half.  Of course these total are going to differ, with more time spent on whole group at the beginning of a unit and less at the end etc., but still here’s my question.  If we are only teaching teacher candidates about classroom management strategies for the time spent during whole group activities, what are they supposed to be using for the 55 – 69% of the day that isn’t whole group?  I’d love to see part of classroom management classes be spent on specific strategies for teaching independent work habits, for managing rotations and checklist formats, for strategies that turn teachers into a facilitator etc.

What percentage of your week is spent in whole group activities?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources