Easily Creating Groups for Small Group Instruction Success

Do you feel like you’re letting some students fall through the cracks when thinking about how individualized your instructions are? We have so many students in our classroom working at various levels. This makes it hard to make sure everyone is getting exactly what he/she needs. However, you don’t have to worry if you are creating groups for small group instruction in a methodical way. What does that mean and how do you do it? Let me tell you! 


Creating Groups for Small Group Instruction 

Small groups are perfect for centers! When you are creating groups for small group instruction, there are several steps you can take to make sure you are creating groups that are beneficial to all of your students. Each way is a unique opportunity to meet the needs of your students depending on your classroom personality. However, before you complete all the steps, you need to decide what type of grouping style you want to use in your classroom. 

Assessment-Based Grouping 

When you are using your assessment-based grouping to create groups for small group instruction, you are starting with assessments. These assessments tell you where each student is academically. Those struggling with similar issues can be brought together for targeted teaching during small group instruction. 

Interest-Based Grouping

Another way you can go about creating groups for small group instruction is by interest. It’s easier to learn when you are interested in what you’re learning about. When you put students together based on interest, it can ignite their motivation and their critical thinking skills 

Diverse Abilities Grouping 

While working with people who have similar interests as you can be great, sometimes it’s important to have some diversity when it comes to learning. This can happen by creating groups for small group instruction who have different skill levels. This approach allows students to learn more from one another which promotes collaboration. 


Random Grouping 

Every once in a while, it’s better to let fate decide and randomly create groups. This can be great to do once in a while just to mix things up. This allows students to interact with peers they might not always get to work with. 

Choosing How to Group Your Class  

So, what is the best way to group your students? That’s the golden question! While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s all about the personality of your class. However, in terms of numbers, most of us would agree that the ideal group size ranges between four to six students. Why is that? Here are a few reasons. 


Having four to six students together when creating groups for small group instruction is ideal because it’s easier to manage. When you have more than six students, it can become a challenge to handle. This is especially true when there are behavioral issues. If you have fewer than four, one person might be left out. 

Individual Attention 

When you have smaller groups, you can ensure each student gets adequate attention. This helps make sure each student is getting adequate attention making it easier to differentiate instruction. 

Peer Interactions 

Finally, when you have a group of four to six students, there is balance. It’s small enough that students can have meaningful interactions. However, it’s still large enough for them to have different methods of learning. 


While you are creating groups for small group instruction, it’s important to be flexible! Students are going to grow, change, and develop all at different rates which means you might need to shake up the groups more often than you think. Therefore, you should always be prepared to adjust your groups based on new data, changing student needs, or when your focus switches academically. 

Best Practice for Creating Groups for Small Group Instruction 

When you are creating groups for small group instruction, you want to make sure you are keeping best practices in mind. These best practices include: 

Dynamic Grouping

Remember that students change and groups aren’t set in stone. If something isn’t working behaviorally or academically, don’t be afraid to reassess and shuffle groups. 

Consistent Feedback 

You want to have a system in place for regular feedback. This allows you to always have an understanding of how effective your groups really are. 

Use Collaborative Tools

In our world, technology can really assist in creating groups for small group instruction. Using Google Classroom or Edmodo to manage and assign group tasks can make working in groups so much easier. 

Always Be Watching

While students are in small groups, make sure you are paying attention to what is going on. By simply watching, you can gauge the dynamics in each group which will tell you who is actively participating, who’s holding back, and where there are challenges. 


Overall, when you are creating groups for small group instruction, it’s about more than just the logistics of getting more differentiation or quality one-on-one time. Small group instruction is also great for creating a positive classroom environment. In this environment, students feel secure, challenged, and excited about learning. 

So the next time you find yourself how to bring the best from all your students, remember the power of small groups. With a little work, you can create groups that are kindling those fires of curiosity. Plus, with small group instruction, everyone gets to shine. 

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