Very interesting that you group them in this manner. Up until the end of this past school year, I grouped my students the exact same way. However, in one of my recent classes, it was suggested to group by ability. I am a high school math teacher and grouping the way you talked about just didn't work. The students with high ability levels always ended up getting bored and/or frustrated with their group. The students with low ability levels never really caught on. So the members of the group who gained the most from these groups were the students in the middle (average ability level). When I decided to change up my groups and group by ability, I quickly noticed a change. The students with high abilities LOVED this new arrangement because they were able to work at their own pace and if they got stuck, they simply asked another member of their group. In the old groups, there wasn't anyone who could help them most of the time. Also, in these new groups, I was able to sit down and spend much more time with the groups who needed me most. I would have more challenging worksheets available for the high ability group(s) and I would focus on making sure everyone learned at least the basic concept.
I also like your class building idea. I recently came across some articles and was involved in a discussion regarding team building with colleagues in my building, and I suppose it could continue spreading to within the walls of each class. I could see this being extremely beneficial. Too often high schoolers build attitudes towards each other. I am a coach and am oppose to these attitudes; especially when they are directed at kids with lower ability levels. I think class building would be a great way to start the year! I could combine it with an icebreaker activity, give my diagnostic assessment, form my groups, and be off on the right foot from the very beginning of the year. Thank you for your thoughts!
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