I love to run my teaching groups in circles. There is something powerful about everyone facing everyone and sitting next to each other. This year I'm trying to teach most of my Everyday Math lessons in 2 groups.
Here is how it works or at least how I hope it works:
1. I have 2 groups--Group Amazing and Group Brilliant (A and B) They are mostly ability groupings--but I don't have a perfect science on that.
2. We usually check homework or do time drills or review vocab or do the Math Message whole group for the first 15 min. (Notice I said or, or, or. I don't try to do more than 1, or if I'm lucky 2 of those things.)
3. Then I meet with Group Amazing--they require more time. I run through the main teaching part of the lesson.
4. While working with Group A, Group B is doing their seat job (usually Math Boxes, but sometimes other practice tasks) for 15 - 20 min. and then a Game for 10 min.
5. Then we switch. Sometimes Group A is finishing up at their seats or together while I get started with group B.
6. With many lessons, Group B catches on quickly enough that they support each other after the first 10 - 15 min. I often have 5 minutes to field questions from the seat work in Group A.
7. I'm super fortunate this year because a tutor comes in 3 days a week to support Group A members at their seat.
I teach a lot from a little white board. It works well when we are in a circle. Kids are very motivated, and it's much harder to zone out because everyone can see if you're working. The time always flies by. I feel like I have less control, but the students have lots more opportunity for independence, self control, and support from peers.
Do you use groups for Math, especially Everyday Math? What works for you?