Grouping/ Flexible Grouping/ Time Management

Discussion in 'General Education' started by April Jackson, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Dec 27, 2019

    Hello everyone,
    I am currently an elementary teacher taking my masters. I am conducting research for practitioner inquiry and need help. My research is on how flexible grouping impacts time management. I need to survey current teachers, which as you know, everyone is on Christmas break. I was wondering if anyone was willing to help by answering the following questions:
    1. What types of grouping do you use in your classroom?
    2. What type of grouping do you use most?
    3. Do you use flexible grouping? If so, which type?
    4. What factors do you use to determine your group make-up? For example, ability, mixed ability, skill, etc.
    5. What time management techniques do you use?
    6. What effects do you think grouping has on time management?
    Any help would be much appreciated.
  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Jul 27, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Jan 2, 2020

    For medical reasons I'm not currently teaching, but I would like to answer your questions. I have strong opinions about grouping.

    1. What types of grouping do you use in your classroom? I was required to use fixed grouping in reading and most recently in math. Otherwise, for general classroom teaching, I would often use cooperative learning grouping.
    2. What type of grouping do you use most? As mentioned above, the fixed grouping was for almost every reading/math lesson. The cooperative learning grouping was only used if applicable to the lesson. It should be mentioned that I had small (private school) classes, so I often used the entire class as one cooperative learning group; otherwise I would divide the class into small groups.
    3. Do you use flexible grouping? If so, which type? Standard cooperative learning groups.
    4. What factors do you use to determine your group make-up? For example, ability, mixed ability, skill, etc. For fixed grouping, I would compare standardized tests, previous teacher interviews, and an individualized informal assessment (from the basal reader) to determine the fixed group. In almost all cases, though, the student remained in the same group s/he was in the previous year. Most recently, grouping evolved into administrative determination heavily based on the previous year's standardized test. For cooperative learning, I would use one of two methods, depending on the lesson. Sometimes I would allow the students to form their groups. Otherwise, I would mix the abilities/skills. I would also attempt to mix personalities within the group so that I'd have a mixture of more active and quieter students within the same group. Except for when I first began cooperative learning, I never assigned roles to each student; I found, for myself, it worked much better allowing the group to naturally fulfill or share roles rather than choosing a "president, vice-president, secretary, etc." Along with that, I would monitor the groups by walking around the room. I'd have one or two practice groupings at the beginning of the year, then discuss with the class what procedures worked well or didn't work with each group. We'd also make a list of these ideas and also a list of positive phrases they or I heard that were helpful (such as "good idea" or "I like that").
    5. What time management techniques do you use? Oh, boy! That's a weakness I have for sure. For myself, I had to set a fixed time on the clock for both kinds of groups. Again, I also monitored each cooperative group so that I could guide their own time management. In monitoring a group, I tried to assist with scaffolding rather than direct instruction.
    6. What effects do you think grouping has on time management? Time management is much easier with cooperative grouping than fixed grouping. With fixed grouping, I found I had to focus on specific needs of each group. In mixed ability grouping, the specific needs seem to be met by each ability level. A student who is above level tends to automatically (it seems) boost the ability of the lower student and visa versa. The lower student boosts the ability of the upper student because the upper student is incorporating more brain connections internally in order to explain her/his ideas to the lower student. Earlier in my career, I paired students into groups of 2 for the reading lesson and did not use fixed grouping. Same thing, in my opinion (and based on research) occurred. Both students benefited from the experience, both the upper and lower student.

    Any help would be much appreciated. I personally find problems with fixed grouping. Sometimes it's the better option, depending on how large the gap is among students, but in most cases, I find that once a student is in the low group, s/he's there to stay. I even find that the gap increases as the students move on from grade to grade. The lower students tend to slow down even more. (I'm thinking right now of a third grader who had no clue of how numerals represented numbers--although he did progress rather rapidly once I focused on that for awhile). Another thought, that is often overlooked as being too sympathetic, kids who are in the lower group feel like they are the classroom "dummies"; this inhibits their confidence in learning. In other words, they don't have the same initiative to strive to progress as a student in the upper group, the student who is lauded for being so bright and accomplishing so much. They see that student at the end of each year getting all the marvelous awards and then they themselves get the complimentary award of most improved or brightest smile. On the other hand, in non-fixed grouping, the same fixation can occur; it's important that each student be seen by the teacher and the students as progressing according to their own individualization. All brains are different and in the general classroom, all the brains are capable of learning. In most cases, the brain meets the expectations given to it. And encouragement, even a smile, is the best medicine for any student's brain. Again, on the opposite end, it's the lower group that the teacher might typically not look forward to and might be most impatient with; this impatience has negative impacts on the students' brains. Although I don't just give nonchalant praise to students, I do look for times to indicate and assist the students in realizing that they are doing something correctly. Rather than speaking critically I speak constructively. Along with that, I find my greatest teaching tool to be my ears; I figure I have 2 of them, so they must be more important than just yakking away with my mouth.
  4. Jan 4, 2020

    Thank you so much for your reply. It has been very helpful. I am sorry to hear that you are unable to teach right now and I hope you get better.

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