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Ability Groups?
Old 07-28-2006, 04:01 PM
 
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How many of you have homogeneous or heterogeneous classes? Which do you prefer?


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grouping
Old 07-28-2006, 06:02 PM
 
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In reading I prefer ability grouping. That is not to say these are the red birds and these are the black birds. But when you have like abilities you can move at a faster rate knowing you have covered the material on the reading level of that child. I have found in the heterogeneous groups your higher level child speak out before the "at risk" (maybe not meaning to ) this leaves the "at risk" child in a worst situation than being as being stero type the black bird. It is no secret whether you are great at reading or not. Also the higher readers should be in one group so they can excell and not be reading simple text. I do other subjects in hetergenous like math. That is a subject where a peer can help with out a child feeling insecure about oneself.
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Which is better?
Old 07-28-2006, 06:21 PM
 
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To be in classes labeled low, regular, advanced, and GT, or be pulled out for special classes? Students in low classes know they are in low classes, but if they are pulled out in a heterogeneous class to go to a specials class, isn't that just as bad on their self-esteem. Either way, they are labeled. How many of you have pull-out GT programs?
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both
Old 07-28-2006, 06:34 PM
 
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We have both types of classes. We have ability-grouped for a one hour reading class, and heterogeneous for the rest of the classes (and another hour of reading!).

We also have a gifted pull-out program, dyslexia pull-out, speech pull-out, and sped pull-out. I wondered sometimes if I ever had all 26 of my kids at the same time! The gifted kids were pulled out all day one day a week. The rest were pulled out at different times throughout the week.

I like it homogeneously-grouped for reading because it gives us a chance to challenge the higher readers, while working on phonics or other skills with the emerging readers.
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grouping
Old 07-28-2006, 06:40 PM
 
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Now I have pull out program ( I am not in regular classroom anymore)
I make my pull so exciting that the higher level kids are always begging to go. It is not like well there goes Johnny. It is a matter of attitude.
If the teacher is negative about oh gee it is time for "those" kids then the others no matter what level pick on it. Who is to say that a lower level can not advance to a higher level if you find the strenghts . Life is not made up of all Upper class people. Face it kids get the cast thing going early. Yes it will happen but a teacher can make the bridge for the different ones to appreicate each persons accomplishments.


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kids
Old 07-28-2006, 06:44 PM
 
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I must've had a wonderful group of kids the past few years (3rd and 4th grades). I never had an issue with the kids making fun of others - and I had quite a wide range of abilities! They understood that everyone had their strengths and weaknesses, and that's why we had such a great school - we could help kids in whatever areas they needed it. Period. Even when I had timed multiplication tests, and my sped kids weren't timed - nobody said anything. They knew different people had different accommodations.

Kids are so neat.
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Old 07-29-2006, 09:02 PM
 
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I grew up in a school that ability grouped classes. We had the "A" track, "B," and "C." I was in the "A" track and liked being challenged, however, I felt the quality of instruction wasn't as great at lower levels. For instance, I took a journalism class as an elective one year. The man who taught it also did all of the "C" level English classes. He was a Vietnam Vet and would frequently have flashbacks in class. Our school paper was an embarassing joke because he sat there and gave no instruction or feedback during class. If I wasn't the editor, working my buns off, it would never have come out at all.

The school I'm at now does not "officially" have tracking, but we have three 7th grade teams and one team with two classes of 7th graders. One team has all of the GT students on it, with "regular," special needs, and ESL students as well (but not in the GT classes). Another team always gets more ESL, special needs, and behavior problems than everyone else. Our team is in the middle.

We have inclusion for special needs and ESL. However, when they are given a test, they are pulled out. Also, if they are in an elective, they must go to CMC for help. This makes it obvious to kids what everyone is labeled as.

For the most part, everyone is accepting of one another in this regard. However, we do get the occasional "regular" student who will loudly ask, "Where are THEY going?" or "Can I go to CMC too?"

I am not really sure what the right answer is, but I do like inclusion better than tracking. When I graduated from my high school, I reliazed out of a class of 250, I knew personally less than 70 of them. Some I had never seen before graduation!

Jenny
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What a shame
Old 07-30-2006, 06:26 AM
 
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In your last paragraph, you know that's the sad part. By being separtated from other kids throughout your school years, you never get to know them. You could be missing out on some wonderful friendships. The only time our students get to co-mingle is in PE and Music. Even there, I see them cling to their own little groups.
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no more for us...
Old 07-30-2006, 06:49 AM
 
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We are going to have self-contained classrooms (except science/ss) this year for the first time, and I am really looking forward to it! Less movement and a more cohesive classrooms has to be an improvement! I am so looking forward to the cross-curricular activities that I can finally do to "pull it all together". I've found ability grouping for reading and math has really lessened our ability to do that. I believe kids absolutely need to make those "connections". Also, the organizational issues and time constraints of all that switching were always a problem.

Actually, I'm quite surprised at the number of you that actually ability group. Are your groups flexible, or do they change often? Are the groups always grouped by abilty or other factors as well? I'm just curious as I've always felt like our school was a bit "behind the times" in our approach to reading and math and we were finally "catching up".

I'd be curious to hear more pros and cons regarding ability grouping for the core subjects. It's a topic I'm always very interested in others' practices! Thanks!
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Research STRONGLY supports
Old 07-30-2006, 07:44 AM
 
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proficiency grouping in core subjects. That is not the same as tracking. With tracking, you are in the track you're in for life. No one ever moves up or down. I was also raised in a district that tracked, and my graduating class was over 500. I also never met many of my classmates, but I'm not sure if it was due to tracking or the fact that there were 500 kids in the class! I understand the drawbacks to tracking.

Anyway, research supports differentiation, which is giving all students work at their level. The difference between proficency grouping/differentiation and tracking is that with the former, groups are supposed to be FLUID. Kids should always have the opportunity to move up. And occasionally, I've had a kid that the testing missed, and I've had to move them down. But no one is automatically stuck in their group for life.

I think differentiated groups are especially important with reading instruction, and it's really quite easy to manage. Whole class reading instruction really, really makes me cringe. I was one of the very good readers and I HATED reading time, because I had to put up with such poor, slow readers. We would take all this time to read a story from the basal (yuck!) and I could have read the stupid thing in ten minutes. I was at a higher reading level. That sounds snotty, but I don't think teachers realize how badly they're torturing their high readers with whole class reading instruction. Those kids should be reading something higher and more challenging. It's very easy to manage, and is the best for the kids.


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Old 07-30-2006, 08:10 AM
 
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I prefer heterogenous classes but differentiated instruction within the class. I totally agree that research supports differentiation, but I always took that to mean within a single classroom with a heterogenous mix of students.

maryteach,
do you think students should be sorted into ablility groups and placed in different classrooms, or are you talking about the kind of flexible grouping (Fountas and Pinnell style) within your own classroom?

I guess I just don't see how groups (or tracks or whatever) could be fluid or flexible, with students moving in and/or out of a group, if students are placed in different classrooms. I think on paper it could say students could move up or down, but I think in reality a student could just be stuck.
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Oh no
Old 07-30-2006, 08:33 AM
 
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I meant all in the same classroom. I'm sorry I didn't make that clearer. I differentiate for all kids in the same classroom. I take it the same way you do--heterogenous classes, and differentiation with the group.
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Tracking
Old 07-30-2006, 08:53 AM
 
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I guess what we have at our school is tracking. Students are separated into different classrooms according to ability. I have a regular/on level class, but sometimes I get students that perform at a higher level or lower level. Our school allows us to move students quite easily to another classroom (providing there's room) if we feel they need to move up or down, and I have done that a few times that I've felt they needed more challenge or more remediation. There are some teachers however, that don't want to give up those higher performing students to another class, and that's really hurting the student.
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Yeah, it's sad
Old 07-30-2006, 09:03 AM
 
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when teachers do things because it's easier for THEM, and the students' needs come second. Unfortunately, I think that's more common than you think. I see it all the time. The math teacher on our team insists that "math can't be differentiated." When one of the seventh grade math teachers tried to tell her that SHE differentiates, so it obviously is quite possible, the teacher from my team just got mad. And no, she's not differentiating squat, and she has a lot of failures every semester. We are sixth grade teachers. She says all the time that she "doesn't teach third grade math." Well, I teach third grade language arts, to about 20% of my students, every day of my life.
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Old 07-30-2006, 10:53 AM
 
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I prefer heteogeneous grouping whenever possible. My school requires us to have flexible ability groups for reading though.
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grouping
Old 07-30-2006, 04:52 PM
 
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I teach in a self contained classroom. I group homogeneously for reading groups, but heterogeneously for center type work. In math I group based on needs. If 5 kids still don't have addition w/ regrouping then that is my small group. We have a pull out program and I am like Susan Teach. I have never had a problem with kids making fun of others. Also have ell pull out again no problems. I agree that it is all in how you handle it. If a problem ever arises I think it could also be all in how you handle it.
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