Customer Reviews: Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All
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on September 2, 2007
Educator Debbie Diller reveals her thirty years of experience as an educator, including classroom teaching of children in grades PreK-10 as well as teaching in small groups and independent work, in Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All, a practical guide to the teacher's role in small-group instruction. An in-depth resource packed with tips, tricks, and techniques, Making the Most of Small Groups particularly focuses upon instructing small groups in the five essential reading elements: comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary. Packed with tips, tricks, and techniques for organizing one's time and space as well as the nuts and bolts of teaching, and rounded out with black-and-white photographs, sample lesson plans, reflection questions for professional conversations, references, and much more, Making the Most of Small Groups is an invaluable guide for reading teachers of young students everywhere.
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on July 17, 2007
This book will definitely be a productive resource used over and over again to help me decide what each of my reading groups will be doing each week. The book gives charts for the different areas of teaching reading and what type of activities to do to strengthen these areas. This will be a huge organizational help to me and time saver on a weekly basis, k teacher
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on July 12, 2007
At last a book that shows you exactly how small groups should work! I love the section on using a small group planning notebook. I will definately use this book in my classroom in the fall.
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on July 3, 2007
Diller is terrific. This book is an easy read with great ideas for small groups and organization. Diller writes specific lesson plans for each area, with details so you can visualize using it in your own classroom. Best for grades 1-3
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on January 18, 2011
This is the first book I read on the modern concept of Reading Workshop though I'd read about it on line and seen some teacher made videos. I spent quite a bit of time deciding which books to order. I wanted them to be practical, yet also give me enough theory and overview for me to make intelligent decisions about Reading Workshop myself. Looking back, I can say that this book was a great choice, and I'm very happy to have it in my collection.

The eight chapters are Time, Organizing, Grouping, Comprehension, Fluency, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Vocabulary. Diller also has an Appendix for each of these with many reproducible pages that will be wonderful for getting started, and references at the end of each chapter. I didn't read the chapters in order, however. I really wasn't as interested in the time aspects as organizing and actually teaching skills, so I skipped around as I read. This worked fine.

One of the frustrating things about education is that most of our terminology is fluid, so I appreciated Diller's clearly stating that she does not consider her small group instruction to be Guided Reading, as she defines GR as being done with leveled readers. In her own words, "I've created small-group lesson ideas that you can use with leveled books, or texts from a basal reading series, or whatever you've got." (p10) Her small groups are structured exactly like many GR examples: Familiar Re-reading/Book Intro/During Reading (she listens to individual students here)/After Reading. She also discusses the importance of linking small group work with the rest of the day, and having a balance between whole group, small group, one-on-one instruction and individual work. And she discussed how to schedule and fit all of this into your busy day -- all by page 11! She does this by keeping her writing organized, clear, and concise.

The book includes reproducible sheets about how to choose a lesson focus, suggested lesson sequence, a chart correlating reading levels and skills needed, whole group lesson ideas, scoring rubrics, prompts teachers can use for each skill they teach and sources for reader's theater. And that still doesn't cover it all! In the chapter on grouping Diller discusses assessing, organizing, scheduling, keeping track of what your groups and individuals have done, and when to move students to another group.

This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who wants more information or direction or support on teaching reading. While ideally these small groups are taught during RW, they don't have to be. So it's useful for any teacher, anywhere. I especially appreciated the amazing charts and lists she includes in the appendices. In fact, I kept turning from the body of the book to marvel and get lost wallowing in all the information at the end!

If you want a book to give you the big picture of how and why to structure a Reading Workshop, I'd suggest The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins. These two together should answer about any question you might have, from kindergarten through grade 6.
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on August 9, 2007
In this book Debbie Diller does a wonderful job simplifying small groups for reading. Her ideas are practical and easy to apply. It is an easy read! I read it over and over!! Use this with her other book, Literacy Work Stations and you're set.
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on July 26, 2008
Debbie Diller shares lots of tips to help you get organized for small group instruction. Also, there are lots of lesson plans and examples of how to teach various skills in small groups. I am an experienced teacher, but still got a lot of very useful information from this book. It is a book that I am sure I will use often.
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on June 18, 2008
Debbie Diller has written another fantastic resource for reading teachers. This book is full of helpful ideas for teaching each of the five areas of reading and give tips on organizing. Well worth the money--one of the best resources I have seen in 27 years of teaching.
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on July 11, 2015
One of the things that Debbie Diller does so well is make her books very accessible and practical for actual classroom teachers. In this book, she provides numerous resources for evaluation/assessment, grouping, planning and even teaching small group literacy lessons in a flexible, differentiated and systematic way.

Because the beginning of the book contains a great deal of theory, it isn't quite as exciting as the later, more practical chapters (i.e. not a beach read)but the information is related clearly and I understandable terminology.

Four stars because, while the appendix is chock full of wonderful resources and templates, the Kindle version is difficult to utilize without recreating the templates myself. I wish that authors would create a secure site where readers could go to print off PDFs of great resources.
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on July 2, 2014
This book is great! I have always had the feeling that my small groups were not as effective as they could be. This book gives clear, concise instructions on exactly what to do in small groups. I love the lesson plans and suggestions on how to tie it to the whole group lesson.

Thank goodness someone finally acknowledged that meeting with 4 or 5 groups in one day was not practical! I've been beating myself up over this one for years. Now what I knew has been validated by a respected author. Yay me!

I would give a copy of this to every new teacher I met. This has been that "missing link" for me.
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