Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grouping your learners

We know that not all children learn the same.  It isn’t fair to teach them all the same and have everyone complete the same assignment.  Some students need more time to do less challenging work and other students fly through every assignment you give them.  

In my classroom I assign each student to a colored group and each color has different projects and assignments they are working on in class.  Students can move up and down groups based on previous assignments.

Here is an example of how I grouped learners to do a science project:

Make a picture of each ecosystem.  Show what types of organisms live there.  List the properties (details) of that ecosystem.

Make a cluster web of each ecosystem.  List five details about that ecosystem.

Draw a picture of each ecosystem and write a short sentence about that ecosystem. 

The white group was very low the year I did this.  As you can see, they would really struggle doing what the brown group was doing.  My brown group could probably do what my green group was doing, but this would take them a very long time and many would get frustrated. 

Make sure your assignments are leveled so students don’t end up frustrated or bored.  You want everyone to be working at a comfortable level for them.
Some ask about other students complaining about having more work or the white group having it “easy”.  I talk to my students about being different and being created in God’s image (Catholic school).  Not everyone learns the same so it isn’t fair for everyone to have the same assignment.  If students ever make fun of my white group, there are serious consequences.  I do not tolerate teasing directed at anyone and I make that VERY clear early on. 

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