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In her previous books, Literacy Work Stations and Practice with Purpose, Debbie Diller showed teachers how to productively occupy the “rest of the class while meeting with small groups. Now Debbie turns her attention to the groups themselves and the teacher's role in small-group instruction. Making the Most of Small Groups grapples with difficult questions regarding small-group instruction in elementary classrooms such as:
Structured around the five essential reading elements—comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary—the book provides practical tips, sample lessons, lesson plans and templates, suggestions for related literacy work stations, and connections to whole-group instruction. In addition to ideas to use immediately in the classroom, Debbie provides an overview of relevant research and reflection questions for professional conversations.
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Debbie has been a national consultant since 2000, but still has those "back to school" dreams in the fall. After playing school in the basement of her childhood home in Lititz, Pennsylvania, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Millersville University and Temple University and spent the next four decades as an educator. She's worked as a classroom teacher, migrant education teacher, Title I reading teacher, and literacy coach in Pre-K through grade 10 in diverse public school settings. Her love of teaching stems from her love of learning. "I have always loved learning. Becoming a teacher was a way I could share that love of learning with children and eventually, with adults."
A big part of her learning is listening to teachers and their professional development needs. "When I work with teachers, I try to understand their needs by finding out what they know and listening to their questions. Then I begin where they are and work with them to help them take the next steps toward where they (and/or their school systems) want (them) to be. I believe in professional reading and professional learning communities, and support teachers in their quest to best meet the needs of all students in their classrooms."
Debbie's ideas for her books also come from her work with teachers. She listens for frequently asked questions, patterns, teachers' needs, and keeps a writer's notebook to collect ideas, thoughts, and notes. "Often, the old joke comes to mind: "how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." That's how I write: Bit by bit, on planes, in hotel rooms, in my office on a rare day. Teachers' questions and comments spur me on through my daily, ongoing work in classrooms, which sustains my craft."
Debbie's family has changed and grown in recent years. Her son, Jon, and daughter, Jessica, are both married, and she now has a granddaughter, Chloe, with another on the way. Debbie's husband, Tom, passed away in 2012.Review:
This book is a must-have for the vast majority of teachers interested in developing and honing their skills at delivering differentiated instruction. --Education Review
An in-depth resource packed with tips, tricks and techniques. --Midwest Book Review
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