student grouping

Discussion in 'General Education' started by creativemonster, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Oct 4, 2017

    ok, maybe everybody already knows this except me - sorry if it's not new news. I have always struggled with when to group my students homogeniously (spelling? sorry) and when to group hetrogeniously. (and I teach Language arts - I can't spell) I have asked other teachers their thoughts on this and have gotten vague answers or flat out preferences for one over the other. Today thrown into a casual conversation my principal mentioned that one uses same same grouping for new information and mixed ability grouping when working to solve a problem. HA! I feel like I just got the teacher edition of an upper level science textbook. So, that's the answer! I'm so excited! I have HUGE classes and have been playing with grouping for a while and this will help. Any other ideas on groups? Please share! Thanks!
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I prefer homogeneously (spell check for the win). I do not know what research says, but anecdotal experience tells me it's very frustrating for a high reader who reads fluently to be placed with a low reader who takes ssoooooooo long to get through one sentence.

    My preference is to stick the low kids with other low kids, the high kids with other high kids, and give the groups texts or assignments that match their independent levels.
     
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  4. MetalTeacher

    MetalTeacher Companion

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    Oct 5, 2017

    It depends on the task. Sometimes, homogeneously might be appropriate, like if you have different students working on different texts. Heterogenous groups based on observed skillsets might be effective for certain projects or presentations (such as splitting your artists or your extroverts up among various groups, but you don't tell the students that.) For smaller things, it might not matter; I have a professor who lines us up by weird things like "how spicy do you like your food?" or "how long is your hair?" and groups us that way, just to keep us working with different students (I'm still in college.)
     
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 5, 2017

    When I was a student, I preferred to work with other students with similar abilities and skills. Certain teachers always placed me with strugglers and it became irritating after a while because I felt like I always had to do all the work or I was the only one who understood the task we were doing or everyone else was screwing around. I was a pretty easygoing kid, by the way, and not elitist or anything about working with kids who couldn't read as well or do whatever other thing as well as I could. If the task was just to read together or something, I was on board. But for groupwork where we had to present our work or earn a grade on it, it just felt like the teacher wanted me to to be the teacher and do all the work, and I wasn't okay with that, even from a young age.
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    Oct 6, 2017

    You take a big risk by putting all your "low" students in the same group. Doing this sends a strong negative message to those students and can actually slow down their progress.

    Instead of ability grouping, you can have students work in heterogeneous pairs to complete a project, experiment or study. Make sure you provide some extra help to the pairs that have the lowest students as part of the pair.

    You can alter your expected outcomes for your lower achieving students when doing whole-class lessons. For example, all your fourth graders must write 90 words or more during the journal time, but your struggling students can write 40 words. ELL students can copy words from an example you posted, and so forth.

    You can pull an on-the-fly group together, not based on ability, but based on who doesn't get it, for a quick remedial lesson. This as opposed to static ability groups.
     
  7. autumnbrooks

    autumnbrooks Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2017

    I agree with Tyler B.

    I would not consistently group "low" students separately from "high" students. Even at a young age, they can tell your strategy. This will only build or re-enforce the idea of "I'm not good at this" and the judgement of other students in the class.

    I prefer mixed ability groups, but I change groups frequently and give students the opportunity to work with ALL members of the class at different times. Another strategy to prevent frustration for students who feel they are "teaching" their peers is to emphasize strongly in your class that being able to teach a topic means you know it really well.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 6, 2017

    It's my job to bring my low kids up. It is not my high kids' job.
     
  9. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2017

    I love hearing teachers' views. I have grouped historically by allowing them choose their own groups. Especially with writing lab, when what they are writing is sometimes extremely personal. But it does make sense to me to group same same if they are working on a new skill. but I am still of the idea that my high school sts are quite capable of choosing their own groups. Thank you! I will keep experimenting. Yesterday at a workshop it came out that my district counts conversations on computer as group work. HA-ha, look at us - we are doing group work! And if I set up on line conversations for them, I can grade it pretty easily...
     
  10. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2017

    Group by ability, enough said. Like one poster above brilliantly stated, it is OUR jobs as educators to bring up the underachievers, not the high-level performers.
     
  11. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    Oct 9, 2017

    One of the most effective teaching strategies known to exist is cooperative learning. Why would you decide to take this valuable tool away from your students?
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 9, 2017

    There's a difference between two students learning together and another student teaching another. If two students are working together and one student has a "light bulb moment" first, that's one thing. If I put a high student with a low student specifically because I know the high student will help teach the other, that isn't fair to either of them.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2017

    You are 100% correct.
     
  14. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    Oct 9, 2017

    I never said to put high kids with low so that the highs could teach the lows. I don't think you intentionally misrepresented my comments, but you did just that. What I said was not to put the lows together. High kids DO need to learn to work with all kids - high and low, so sometimes they work together.

    So do you think that highs should never work with the lows? I often make up groups of my highest students and give them a more complex problem to work on. Several years ago I was a district teacher for gifted students, and my own children are identified as gifted, so I'm very attuned to the needs of the highs.
     
  15. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    When I do heterogeneous grouping, I do it almost exclusively by letting students pick their partner or group. Whether or not it's your express intention, when you pair up a high kid and a low kid, you're hoping that some of what the high kid knows rubs off, and in general, both students are well aware of it. I mean, just to use an example, if I assign Kid A and Kid B to both work on a social studies research project, and Kid A is reading 5 years ahead of Kid B, is there any realistic chance of that being an equal partnership? Do you think either kid is going to go into it expecting it to be an equal partnership? For that matter, do you really think Kid A would WANT it to be an equal partnership?
     
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  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oct 10, 2017

    I group a variety of ways, depending upon the task. Sometimes I have mixed groups, sometimes homogeneous groups. Sometimes they work with the students that are next to them already. A lot of the times I group by behavior and personality. I've even placed all of the slackers in one group. That way they have to step up and work because they cannot rely on a hard worker to save their butts.
     
  17. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 11, 2017

    "Mrs. X said I was one of the top students in class so she put me at a table with a bunch of rowdy boys. They kept kicking my chair during the quiz. I kept getting distracted and couldn't finish in time."

    Actual conversation I had with a student yesterday asking her about her recently dropping math grade.
     
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  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Comrade

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    Oct 11, 2017

    Precisely.
     
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  19. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

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    I feel for your student. So because you had a rowdy boy kick a chair, educators should use ability grouping despite the drawbacks?

    Why do you let kids kick chairs? Oh - you put all your rowdy boys together and you're busy with another group so you can't monitor your rowdy students very well.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 11, 2017

    I still haven't seen any data here that shows that high-performing students improve when they are regularly placed with lower-performing students. Does anyone have that sort of data?

    I'm especially curious because I'm thinking of all the courses designated honors, accelerated, AP, advanced, etc. If being with lower-performing kids helps our high-performers, and if being with other high-performing kids does not help, then why do we separate them out into these higher-level classes? Using this logic, shouldn't everyone be in remedial classes?
     
  21. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 11, 2017

    For someone who gets so upset when others put words in their mouth you sure make quite a few assumptions.
     
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