Small Groups- “Help meeeee!” (Part 1)

Ever wanted to pull small groups of students in your classroom but don’t know where to begin?  There are many methods used to groups students and have them work together, but one method I’ve used that really works is Daily 5.

I’ve used it in my classrooms and have helped my teacher friends implement it into their classrooms too. I have not however implemented Daily 5 with fidelity. My version of Daily 5 is in no way identical to how “The Sisters” implement it, but I read the book and the model I use is very much based on their book. I read it several years ago and it is the basis of the grouping of students to work on their own, stay on task, and allow time for the teacher to work with individual and groups of students.


Daily 5 was developed by “The Sisters,” Gail Boushey (left) and Joan Moser (right) who developed a systematic way of teaching students how to become independent learners to improve their own literacy. Once students are able to work independent of the teacher, the teacher is able to work with small groups to help build skills and extend learning.

I do a very expedited process of Daily 5 implementation.  It has worked in the classrooms that I’ve taught in thus far, and you may need to slow down your process, but the method would remain the same.

The first thing to do is to group your students. You can create as many groups as you need or want, but grouping in even numbers has worked for me because in some rotations they work with “buddies”, so an even number of students has worked for me.

I have use leveled groups with similar abilities. That way you can meet with your struggling student groups more often than your higher ability students. Groups of four or six would be ideal.

To group my students I use data; each teacher, district, or state uses different local assessments, so whether you are using informal assessment or more formal assessments, use data to group your students.


Once you have groups, post the groups so students can see their group. You can use color groups, animal groups, states, countries, or any other group. It is fun to tie in your unit of science or social studies to name your groups in order to give each group an identity. You may want your students to “bond” in their group initially to become aware of group members, and they may want to make a group “mascot” to hang in the classroom or put on desks.

Once grouped, bring the students to you (to the carpet or in close proximity to you)  and explain “the why?”. Why are we suddenly being put into groups? Why is it important? What are the benefits. If students know why they are doing something, more focused and engaged they will be.

Explain that there are many benefits to them once you begin Daily 5:

  • They get to do different activities or “rotations” each day.
  • They get to choose where they want to sit in certain rotations.
  • They get to meet with the teacher to get special attention.
  • They learn how to “learn” independent of the teacher so they will become independent, life-long learners.

The next step in the process is practicing how to work in these rotations without becoming off task, misbehaving, etc. This requires PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and more PRACTICE. The time this takes has many variables because of different grade levels, your current classroom management style, how dependent your students are, and if you have students with behavior challenges.

Students will practice getting up from the carpet, and going to their group’s activity (rotation).  The “Read it Self” group in my classroom brings their “best fit book” (more description in the Daily 5 book) and are allowed to move anywhere in the classroom that they would like to read it. My rule is that I have to be able to see them from my “Teacher Table”.

Here are the rotations I use in my classrooms where I model my version of Daily 5, but there are many more variations:

  • Read to Self
  • Read to Someone
  • Work on Writing
  • Word Work
  • Technology

We found these AMAZING pocket chart group cards on Teachers Pay Teachers…. Wait for it…. For FREE from an Super Fantastic Seller named Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station. Here’s the link for these Daily 5 Editable Cards:


Here’s her store to find more amazing products:

Here are pictures of some of my friends Daily 5 classroom charts!

Thanks for looking, any questions or comments?  Tell me what you think!


The Teacher Team

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