Classes Grouped by Ability Level

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by missrebecca, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 8, 2017

    You and I have seen much different research in regards to the effect of ability grouping on high students. From an anecdotal standpoint, my own elementary (and middle) school experience was a total waste of my time, because I had already learned the material being taught (my second grade teacher's recommendation to my parents were to skip me ahead to 6th grade... yeah...), and so rather than being appropriately challenged all the time, I either got an occasional extra project (which I generally had to design myself), or I served as an unpaid teacher assistant. Boy did that ever make me popular, getting to be the third grader put in charge of trying to teach stuff to my classmates while my teacher taught another group.
     
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  2. justateacher123

    justateacher123 Rookie

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    Oct 8, 2017


    The reason I revived the thread is because I am struggling with this in my own classroom. I can see now that you are not in the elementary world, and that you are in the high school realm. I'm not very knowledgable about best practice at this level, as I've literally been first grade teacher for two years and am now teaching a third grade class in a new school who seems to believe in ability grouping. I was the lucky one in the bunch- and as a result, I just put out fires all day long.
     
  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't think the problem is so much that you revived a long-dead thread, as that you revived a long-dead thread by calling somebody stupid.
     
  4. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Here's the thing: taking math for example -- the way the curriculum and approach to teaching math is right now, it perhaps is not nearly as effective for teaching heterogeneous groups as it could possibly be. If it were to be shifted to more open problems, low-entry/high-ceiling work, then those heterogeneous groups would be more effective. This requires not only a shift in mindset for most teachers, but also a shift in district/state thinking around curriculum.
     
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  5. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Oct 9, 2017

    Congratulations on your success. However, homogeneous grouping of students for instructional purposes is not supported by the literature. I train my student teachers in techniques to remediate the low and accelerate the high without the harmful effects of homogeneous grouping.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    What do you make of all the anecdotal data here and elsewhere specifically regarding your high-achieving students? In what specific ways does being grouped with lower-achieving students help the high-achieving students?
     
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  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    What are these techniques?
     
  8. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This is an aside, but look at your username and then your comment. That’s interesting!
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Exactly.
     
  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    One technique is to avoid fill-in-the-blank style works sheets. Instead, students should have a project that allows a teacher to vary the definition of success.

    For example, my fifth graders are reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as our class novel. One of the problems we are working on as we read is: What kind of sentences does Ave use and how do they affect the reader? We look at his sentence lengths and how he constructs his longer sentences without creating a run-on.

    We look at how he begins his sentences and how all that variance makes his book interesting. We examine when and how he uses short sentences - it more common during dialog, description, or action scenes?

    After each of these exams, we attempt to replicate his style in our writing journal. My ELL student from China just tries to copy a paragraph from the book. My brilliant gifted students create stunning works of art in the style of Avi. All students are engaged and love the unit. The discussions are amazing.
     
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  11. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Open-ended / low-entry, high-ceiling tasks, combined with rich instruction/discussion.

    (Note: I'm very much in the middle of the pendulum in terms of my feelings, but think it's important not to dismiss either in its entirety)
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Oct 10, 2017

    @Tyler B. What techniques would you use for a math class?
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    What would these tasks look like in lower elementary where kids are still learning the absolute basics?

    What does rich instruction look like?
     
  14. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'll try to answer more thoroughly later, but as a quick, just-woke-up response, look at the Week of Inspirational Math activities. If you look at day 2 of https://www.youcubed.org/weeks/week-1-grades-3-4/ , that's an incredible way to begin looking at factors, prime, and composite, without directly instructing the vocab right away, and while giving kids many entry points. I'll be doing this, then diving into finding factors (in a visual/open way at first, then pushing for efficiency) -- some kids may work with smaller numbers, some may work with larger numbers, and the latter will be pushed to find an efficient method, or to discover how far you have to check for factors (maybe even mentioning square roots).

    As I mentioned earlier in the thread, doing this with every single thing is unreasonable perhaps for a teacher right now, with the curriculum the way it is (we've spent a few hours developing our plans for this 3-day factors/prime/composite work) and the fact it's such a huge shift. The thing is, it's certainly possible.
     
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  15. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I started writing a response and realized it read like sub plans. It was far too long for this forum. Basically, what you do is to teach math mostly using projects and experiments. These are done in a way where the results are graphed so the class can discuss them and make predictions and conclusions about mathematical principals. It's easy to extend the lesson to challenge the high flyers.
     
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