Sunday, 4 August 2013

Grouping children in class.

 Last year I wrote about my experience of my first full year job sharing  http://mrshalford.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/challenges-of-job.html
Here we are a year on.  So, how did it go?

Teaching children for two consecutive years certainly has its advantages. I knew those children very well- knew exactly what they needed to work on to make good progress and make good progress they certainly did.

Whilst analysing the data it soon became clear that the year five children had made excellent progress, but the year four children slightly less so. Interestingly some of the more able children had made less than expected progress. Why should this be?

One reason could be that I focussed a lot of my guided teaching time on my most able children (as laid out in our SDP). Sure, they got good results but this has made me think carefully about how much time I devote with each group. With another large class next year (33 year 4/5 ) it will be a challenge! Ideally I would spend the same amount of time with each group but as any teacher knows that is easier said than done. Yes of course my weekly overview would structure who I would work with and when, but when using AFL and changing plans to best meet the needs of the children the groups themselves are changing .

Could the fact that the younger children in a mixed age class can feel eclipsed by the older ones and does this inhibit their progress? Certainly the majority of year five children  I taught this year made a lot more progress than they had the previous year when I had taught them as year fours.  Was this all down to the fact that I knew their skills so well? That they were so confident in the class set up that they were able to flourish? That being the older ones in the class gave them a heightened sense of responsibility which in turn improved their capacity for learning? 

This September I will again have a y4/5 class  and be carrying on with 14 children from the 12/13 academic year.  It will be a challenging year with a large class, a lot of children on school action and school action plus (just like any other class) along with the fact that my job share partner has moved on and a new appointment will be made.

So, what are my priorities? 

First of all consistency is key so should my temporary job share partner not continue, it will be all about making a new partnership work effectively. Although new to job sharing I feel that it has been a very successful partnership ; I will blog about it over the summer.

Secondly grouping the children in mixed ability groups most of the time. I use working partners (thanks to all the brilliant AFL resources by the wonderful Shirley Clarke  http://shirleyclarke-education.org/) and have groups of children needing interventions as appropriate. I am thinking of having discrete groups of more able in maths/english (still focus on the SDP) but the rest of the groups to be mixed.  I have always used a variety of grouping methods but gone back to traditional ability groups for the majority of maths and english lessons.  Will it work? That’s the challenge.

So I would really like to research a bit more about grouping the children. All my colleagues favour ability grouping. I’ve always played it safe with grouping in abilities for the majority of maths and english lessons.

I make good use of scaffolds, TAs, top tips, success criteria and various other methods to enable children to access their learning. But when the children do work in mixed ability groups (always for science and practical subjects) there is so much more of a buzz going on.

Have you moved away from ability groups? How did you find it? What worked well and what didn’t?

I will blog about how it goes once the term is underway.





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