Talking whole class means not many will get a chance to talk. Smaller groupings means more voices can be heard in discussion. If there are more opportunities created to speak then you as the teacher are freed up to listen in on what is being said! More time to listen = better opportunity to build a picture of the level of understanding the children have.
Using a range of groupings will give the children you teach ample opportunity to talk with a range of different people.
Pairs is a good place to start as the children practice speaking and listening to one another. This gives plenty of opportunity to practice turn taking – a skill in its own right!
This would be my next step as it still provides plenty of opportunity for all to speak but also increases the opportunity for practicing turn-taking. This is the grouping I most often use in KS1. Trios works particularly well for quieter pupils as they can listen to the other two children talking and join in when they feel more confident.
In my next post I’ll talk through some more groupings.