As we all know, creating appropriate groups within a classroom can be trying. Just when you think you have designed the perfect group, something always seems to go wrong! My experience has taught me that the best way to have successful groups is to vary the way that they are constructed. Here are some ways to organize your student groups.
1. Random Grouping
Want to groups of five? Count off one through five until you have gone through all of your students. This type of grouping allows for students to work with completely random partners. It can be done with very little planning. It allows students the opportunity to see that groups aren’t always orchestrated.
2. Homogeneous Grouping
Group your students by some common denominator. Are you finding that certain students are struggling with particular mathematical concepts? Group them together. Want to assign readings based on comprehension level? Group like levels together and assign text to each group based on their levels.
Interest surveys can also help you to form homogeneous groups. Group students based on similarities. Common interests can bond students and will foster fruitful conversations with in your classroom.
3. Heterogeneous Grouping
Mix your students up! Pair students who are struggling with students who are being successful. Group those students with different interests together. Let them work together even though they may not have similar interests. Jigsaw texts and use heterogeneous groups as a way to share out information.
4. Student Choice
The riskiest of all the groups! Once your classroom is running smoothly and rules have been established for groups, you may be in a position where students can choose their own groups. If you do enough group in your classroom you will see that students completely understand their rules. They will be familiar with the expectations and will rise to them.
The most important thing is remember when constructing groups is that students will rise and fall based on the expectations of their teacher. It is important when establishing your classroom community to teach students how they should work in small groups. By varying the types of groups using in your classroom, you will foster the needs of your students. Students will be exposed to a variety of peers and your groups will begin to virtually run themselves when used often enough.
How do you use groups in your classroom?