Need Advice for Grouping

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by love2learn07, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. love2learn07

    love2learn07 Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2009

    I'm changing my seating in to groups tomm. for several reasons.

    I hate the rows because two of my four classes are really large classes this year and I can't get to all the students effectively b/c of the size of my room. Also, I have kids who are on such a wide variety of reading and ability levels that I need to break the group down some.

    Plus I share the room with other teachers three times a day who need to bring their carts, etc. in, and a couple of them also have very large classes.

    At any rate, I have specific jobs for each member of the group to do (i.e. facilitator, manager, recorder/illustrator, monitor/timekeeper). However, I'm realizing that several kids did not fill out the questionaire for jobs and I'm wondering who to pair up with who. :confused:

    I guess my question is how do you best structure groups when you don't know students all that well yet? I guess I'm kind of nervous b/c I had a lot of issues with excessive talking in groups last year. I feel more structured this year, but am still nervous.
     
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  3. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Sep 20, 2009

    Many argue grouping should be heterogeneous. It makes sense - combine some high and low kids so the high kids help the low ones. It probably works in some situations.

    When I grouped I found this not to be the case. The low kids seemed to be intimidated by the highs thus acted out more to cover embarrassment. High kids seemed to be angry with lows as they held them back from accomplishing tasks.

    As an experiment I grouped the lows together and highs in separate groups. The low kids seemed to get more work done, cooperate while the high kids took off. A spin-off was I knew where to place myself (lows) most of the period versus running around the room trying to put out fires. Bottom line the groups produced far more work and less goofing off. Again, may not work in all situations but something to consider.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Sep 21, 2009

    When you don't know them academically, like I believe you're saying here, it's fun to find things they have in common and group them that way. I've grouped them by birthdays before (even zodiac elements -- fire, earth, air and water, but I didn't tell them that). It actually worked out nicely.

    You're always going to run the risk of groups who talk excessively regardless of how you group them. I don't think that's something you'll ever fully conquer. Part of having them in a group is allowing them to be social. The key is to channel that talking into something productive.
     
  5. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Sep 21, 2009

    A colleague of mine taught me how to group students by social status within the classroom. It was really interesting. First, have the kids answer the question: "If you could take any three people in this room to Disneyland, who would you choose to take?" and have students rank them, their first choice being #1 on their list. Then, you count up the votes to see who is "most popular". Those who are popular tend to have leadership abilities and those less popular have less leadership abilities. Each group of students would have a leader then you go down the list from there. It sounds complicated, but its actually pretty easy and it works great for the beginning of the year when you don't quite know the students yet and they students don't know each other well enough yet. I did this my first year. My second year I grouped by grades (A's, B's, C's, etc.), each group would have an A student, a B student, a C student, etc. This year I'm not yet sure how I will group them.
     
  6. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2009

    I forget the exact research and the citation is at school, but it was research around what types of groupings result in gain of knowledge. The research found that heterogenous groupings result in more gain in knowledge for grade level and below grade level students. Heterogenous groups do not result in knowledge gain for your advanced and talented and gifted students. There are very good reasons to have heterogenous groupings but it is good to mix it up once in awhile with homogenous groups.

    My groups change depending on what I am teaching in class, but their normal every day seats are at tables. Everyone places their name onto a sticky note and place it in a container. All students move to the side of the rooom. The first name drawn gets to choose their seat, then point to the chair for the next person. I draw a name and that person has to sit in that chair. This student then points to the next chair, and I draw. The process repeats until everyone has a seat. I watch for potential problems, but I usually don't change anything. Students know that I always reserve the opportunity to change individual seats to help them be more successful in class.
     
  7. mathrulz

    mathrulz Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2009

    To help alleviate this problem, I have the students group themselves once at the beginning of the year with this stipulation: 1. they are to pick a partner that they will actually work with 2. they are to find a partner that they can help and that will help them.

    The advantage I get is that I see some groups of highs and lows that I would not have thought of as working together and I can now pair together. I also see some groups that should not EVER work together (they did not follow my stipulations).

    I group students based on their academic and english language development levels. I try to pair a higher student with a lower student and a fluent student with a non-fluent student. I think that it helps to establish a classroom environment that fosters speaking to, sharing with , and teaching each other.
     
  8. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2009

    I don't use groups, but I completely agree with this method for the beginning of the year! The first week or two I let my freshmen sit wherever they want. They either don't know each other yet or are still in their "honeymoon" stage - they sit quietly and it takes a week or two for me to feel out who can go together and who can't. I kind of let them hang themselves - I get a feel for who can handle being with a buddy and who can't ever be near a buddy. Plus, I get to see who is friends with who. This year, I had a week and a half of wherever they liked. Then I did ABC order, with a few minor alterations (to make sure the bad combos didn't wind up near each other). That allowed me to see how some other combinations work. Now on Tuesday I'll be doing new seating plans based on what I feel works and what I feel doesn't. They're finally opening up, and new patterns have emerged, so I now have more info upon which to base my decisions. If you don't know your students well enough, then maybe give them the choice for the moment - tell them to choose tablemates based upon what jobs people want and who they feel they can work with and get things accomplished. In a week or two, you'll know how you need to change things! If you have even a little sense of the students, you can let them group as they like but tell them which table to sit at. Ex: you KNOW Johnny is your worst talker, so when he has his group, tell them to sit in the seats nearest your desk.
     

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