Whole-Class vs. Small-Group Instruction

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  • 0:00 Types Of Groups
  • 0:52 Whole-Class Instruction
  • 2:35 Small-Group Instruction
  • 4:32 Groups Throughout The Day
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Throughout the day, you are going to want to use a variety of grouping techniques for different activities and lessons. Two main grouping techniques are whole-class and small-group instruction. This lesson will define these types of groups and detail when they are most useful.

Types of Groups

Way back when, students would go to school and sit in rows for the entire day, listening to the teacher talk on and on about different subjects. During this time, students were responsible for sitting still, listening, and taking notes to learn. However, we have come a long way in our understanding of how students learn (thankfully).

These days, teachers are taught to use a variety of grouping strategies to help facilitate student learning. The two main groups you will find in a classroom are whole-class, in which the teacher teaches a topic to the whole class or students have a discussion as a whole group, or small-group, in which students work with each other or the teacher in smaller groups.

This lesson will explain when each of these grouping strategies is appropriate to use and detail some example activities for each type of group.

Whole-Class Instruction

Those classrooms mentioned in the introduction were doing some stuff right, obviously. The idea of teaching to the whole class is still an important one. However, attempting to do so for the entire school day will most likely result in tears and frustration, and not just from the students. Whole-class instruction is best used in two broad situations: introducing a new concept or topic and facilitating a classroom discussion.

Small-group instruction is largely preferred for most of the school day, but sometimes you need to have your students all focused on one person or thing. For example, if your students had never heard the word 'verb' before, you wouldn't put them into a group where they had to work together to find verbs in a piece of text. You would first need to introduce the concept to the whole class, either through direct instruction, a video, or another form of media.

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