Small Group Instruction Pt 2:  How to Map out Conferences and Small Group Meetings for the Week

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Small Group Instruction Mapping Out Conferences and Small Group Meetings

Part ONE was all about setting up your classroom environment and structure to better accommodate small group instruction.

Small group instruction is not just about the small group at the table with the teacher, it's also about what the other students are doing.

When your classroom community is established with routines and structures to support independent work, your small group will run smoother and hopefully uninterrupted. Which brings us to...

Structure of Readers Workshop Visual Representation


Thoughtfully map out your small group meetings and conferences

each day (each week)

Picture this…

You’ve just finished the minilesson for workshop and you have sent students out to work independently. Everyone is moving to their cozy reading spots with their book boxes and settling into their reading work.

Now what? Easy answer, right...

Workshop is the busiest time of the day.

It goes FAST!

So you have to be thoughtful in your planning.

Make a plan for meeting with students.

Map out which group you are going to meet and when.

Make a plan of the conferences you need to have based on the “I Need A Conference” chart and those with whom you need to meet during the week.

Sure, this is probably going to change throughout the week, but you have started with a plan and it can always be adjusted.

Planning the groups you need to meet and the students with whom you need to confer ensures that you will have face to face meetings with all of your students each week. Check out the tool here

Another picture (that I painted in an earlier post, I've Got The Structure of Workshop, Now What? here) follows:

Let’s walk through a possible scenario of a 60 minute workshop.

  • The minilesson is completed (10-14 minutes)

Book Basket in Readers Workshop
  • Students are moving into Independent Work Time (40-45 total minutes)

**The teacher grabs her clipboard and small groups folder.

As students are transitioning, the teacher walks around the room and tells the first small group to gather at the small group table and reread a previous guided reading book until she gets there or independently read. (1 minute)

Teacher conferring and anecdotal notes

Student independent reading and thinking to jot notes

**The class is settling, the small group is gathering and the teacher moves over to one student to confer. (5 minutes)

**The teacher confers with another student (5 minutes)

Guided Reading Group

**The teacher meets with the small group (15 minutes)

**Teacher asks the 2nd small group to gather at the small group table.

(1 minute)

**Teacher confers with another student while the 2nd small is settling in at the table (5 minutes)

**Teacher meets with 2nd small group. (15 minutes)

  • Group gathers for the Share portion of the Reading Workshop (4-5 minutes)

WOW!! That IS fast!

Now this is just one scenario and happens to be what I used in my classroom on a daily basis.

Some days, I may confer with more students and meet with only 1 small group or meet with more small groups and confer with fewer students.

It just depends on the day, the student needs and how the work is going.

By the end of the week, I should have met with small groups a couple of times and conferred with most of my students.

Imagine the amount of face to face time you could have with each student during the week.

Check out Part 3 for tools to create thoughtful and intentional plans for small group instruction.

Don't forget your FREEBIE download of the group and conference planning tool.

Sometimes you need to see the big picture so that you can plan a thoughtful schedule of group meetings and conferences!

Until next time...



Here at Literacy Treasures, I LOVE to talk about reading and writing and share with teachers all that I've learned about what it takes to build strong readers and writers. I have immersed myself in the research of Lucy Calkins, Jennifer Serravallo, Stephanie Harvey, Debbie Miller, Carl Anderson, Gay Su Pinnell, Irene Fountas and so many others.  Every resource, strategy, tool, minilesson and teaching tip that is shared on Literacy Treasures is rooted in this research