One of the things teachers often struggle with is the idea of teaching small groups. Even if a teacher knows exactly what to do within the groups, there is the lingering question of “What are the other students doing while I am meeting with small groups?”. This is where “Must-dos and May-dos” come into play.
Must-Do, May-Do Chart
No teacher wants to repeat over and over what students should be doing. Nobody wants to stop working with a small group to help a student with what they should do next. Must-Dos and May-Dos are a teacher LIFESAVER! This is basically a digital chart that allows students to easily see the expectations for them each day. First, are the groups the teacher will be meeting with (such as Guided Reading or Guided Math groups). Since the groups are in order and have the student names listed, students know that when one group ends, their turn is next and they rush to the teacher’s table (GOODBYE TRANSITION TIME!). It truly cuts down so much on the chaos that can be transitioning from one group to the next and it works so much more effectively than making every child rotate stations like you might see in many Early Childhood classrooms.
Reading Small Group Time
Next, are the Must-Dos and May-Dos. Teachers can change the “must-dos” to match the work given that day. In my classroom, two things are certain for Reading: 1) there is ALWAYS a mentor text activity and 2) students need to practice word work every day. The same goes for Math but it might include a partner activity and a workbook page- again, these should be totally customizable for you! Once students complete those two tasks, they turn papers in to designated tubs around the room and now they are free to choose from the May-dos. For Reading, may-dos include many common tasks such as read-to-self, buddy reading, writing, listen-to-reading but also include Toothy Grammar and Phonics for a fun way to practice these skills. May-dos should obviously still be educational and the greatest part about them is that they can easily be differentiated for students without a lot of prep from the teacher.
Math Small Group Time
For Math, the concept is the same but the May-dos look a little different. After a student completes their independent Math activity, they are free to choose from Math Tubs and Math Puzzles both of which change each month and review important skills. Students can also choose Toothy Math where they can truly differentiate their own learning. The skills are so vast in each set, it is amazing! It is so much easier than having to introduce new games every few weeks! Toothy, oddly, NEVER GETS OLD! Teachers can use any center or game; these are just what I have found work flawlessly in my own classroom.
The last may-do each day is technology. When a classroom has a limited amount of computers or tablets, it helps tremendously to designate those as to not have students arguing over them or rushing to be the first one done. I have found the easiest way to do this is to number and color-coordinate the computers/tablets. Students have an assigned computer and one computer day per week. The computers, slots and cords are all labeled with colored tape so that students can effortlessly keep everything organized. Here is the best part: on Fridays, students can use Dojo points to buy a second computer day! They LOVE it and it keeps students working hard on Fridays!
Using this system has helped so many teachers in holding small groups because it has helped create a structured, learning-conducive environment for the rest of the classroom. It is so great because it is something every teacher can put his/her own flair into and because it can be used across the grade levels. It made a huge difference in my classroom and I hope it will in yours as well!