Q&A #293

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: One class, different abilities

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From: Jeanne

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2000062011:12:24
Subject: Re: Problem in a heterogeneous groups

When it comes to working with students of all ages, one is rarely
completely sure of anything.  It is one of the many things that make
teaching so interesting.

I use groups in my classroom as one of several teaching vehicles. My
groups are usually determined by random drawing of names.

Some the things I do for my student groups to be successful are as

   1--I spend a great deal of time at the beginning of the academic
year setting behavioral expectations for all of my classes in the
large group setting, in small group settings, as individuals.  In the
beginning of the year I make it a point of doing fun, team building
activities so that the students get to know each other.  I find the
initial investment of time to be well worth it.

   2--Periodically, I have a class that has composed of students whose
experience in working in groups is "copy the smartest student's
paper."  In this class I actively teach "group etiquette."  Their
daily points includes reward points for good behaviors.  Or I might
treat them with a piece of candy.  If their average quiz score exceeds
a target number, they all get a reward of some kind.

   3--Students work in groups for a variety of reasons--not just to
complete exercises.  This way the student who is academically not as
strong is likely to have an opportunity to be the "expert."

   4--I change groups every 3 - 5 groups depending upon the course

   5--My most successful lessons where small groups are used, are ones
where the students see the need to work in groups and feel rewarded by
working in a group.  The task could be data gathering in a small time
frame.  It could be lab where the everyone has an important role.

Hope this helps.

 -Jeanne, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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