1) Forget about small group instruction until you have management under control – this includes students writing independently and long without your help. If children need to ask for your permission to grab a piece of paper or sharpen their pencils, you will be interrupted non-stop. Let them take responsibility of their materials and coach them into becoming independent writers. I personally do not start small-group instruction until partnerships have been assigned (partnerships? that is another blog post on its own).
2) If you feel the need to punch me in the face for mentioning the word assessment, please go ahead – I feel the same way. However, when was the last time you: a) LOOKED carefully at a writing piece to determine what a student can and cannot do and b) Designed instruction to target the needs of that and many other students in your class. Yes, that type of assessment. Not the one that is filed and never – EVER looked at again. There are many places you can look at and ‘see’ what your students can/cannot do (partner conversations, students surveys, checklists) and plan from there.