How on earth do we implement flexible grouping?

gifted learner comic

In class we have discussed the needs of a variety of students; learning disabilities, English language learners, gifted students, and students with diverse learning styles. Differentiation is vital in order to meet the needs of a diverse classroom, and this can be applied to how we chose to group our students for activities. 

One way to group them would be to put students that are at the same level of understanding in groups so that we can target specific needs of those students. This way, students that are ahead do not have to linger behind and students that are struggling don’t feel pressured to move ahead prematurely. Having the gifted students grouped together can enable them to take their understanding to the next level. Like the video we watched of the CHS teacher, those students can be given the “mountain” activities to keep them progressive further.

Another way is to group them in mixed levels of understanding. This way, students that are ahead can help explain concepts to their peers, and the students that are lagging behind can learn from them. I think that having to explain material puts students at that higher level of understanding because they are put in a position where they have to reiterate what they understand to someone else. These groupings also allow those students to take on leadership opportunities if they want them.

Both of these methods are not applicable for every situation, sometimes one may be more appropriate than the other, and the teacher just needs to evaluate the student’s needs and desires through formative assessments.

When these two grouping methods are not applicable, I think grouping the students based on learning styles could be beneficial. For this I would let the students pick which activity they would be most interested in; a creative option, analytic option, etc. This way I can be sure that the students are dealing with the material in a way that they feel most comfortable, and in a way that makes the content as accessible as possible. This grouping method is not necessarily specifically addressing gifted learners, but could be modified by offering the higher level students an extra component to the lesson, or a “mountain” option for whatever style they chose. 

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