Mixed Ability Grouping Training Module Read Write Activity Mixed Ability Grouping Introduction The main purpose of this module is to present you the method of mixed ability grouping and its educational benefits for students. Initially there is a theoretical introduction to the subject and a general presentation of the research evidence of the beneficial consequences of this kind of grouping. At the “Suggestions for good practice and activities” section you will be asked to proceed in mixed ability grouping in your classes and discover personally the promising aspects of it. Finally there are several suggestions for further investigating mixed ability grouping with selected literature and internet citations. Theoretical background As the title clearly indicates, “mixed ability grouping“, refers to grouping together students of different abilities. Usually this kind of grouping occurs when the group consists of students with different ages with one or two years span. The term “mixed aged grouping” or “heterogeneous grouping” is used for this case but we prefer to use the more general term of “mixed ability grouping” since the basic criterion for grouping is ability and not necessarily age. However within the framework of MUSE the actual implementation of mixed grouping in multigrade classroom is going to be based on mixed age grouping. In mixed ability groups there are some students that are more mature and experienced than other ones and thus they have more advanced ability to acquire knowledge. The main aim of setting up mixed ability groups is not to produce homogeneity of ability in a group as this is the case in ability grouping, but to increase interaction across students with different abilities. In other words the purpose of mixed ability grouping is for children to benefit by their intellectual and social interaction with other students of their group that have different social behavior and ability to learn. The former reveals the main difference of mixed ability grouping with ability grouping. While grouping children with same ability the goal is to achieve homogeneity of the group and homogenize instruction for students of the group on basis different of grades or ages but based on ability. Age may not be an exclusive criterion for indicating different levels of ability of children but it is the first factor that you take into account when you set up mixed ability groups. Putting together students with one or two grades difference you can make a mixed ability group. It is believed that this interaction and cooperation of children with different intellectual level and social behavior, experience and skills can have worth mentioning educational benefits. Actually this is the case, there are much more research evidence in favor of mixed age grouping revealing that students have at least the same quality of education as in the normal grade system. Research is much more favorable for mixed ability grouping than ability grouping and stress on certain important skills that acquired or improved in mixed ability groups. In mixed ability group of students of different grades research indicates the following: The older, more intellectually and socially matured children benefit: - - By helping their group mates since they are becoming their mentors, they are developing healthy leadership skills and enhancing their self esteem. By improving cognitive skills since they have the chance to consolidate knowledge by sharing it or instructing their younger group mates. The younger, less intellectually and socially matured children benefit: - By being exposed on cooperation activities with more matured students in a spirit of collaboration and team working - By being stimulated by students with stronger personalities, better abilities with wider range of interests - By belonging to a team where they feel security, trust and well guided by their group mates. In general, mixed age grouping contributes a lot to social development of student members. Research reveals that children are aware with the differences and the expected behavior associated with their age. Thus, students in mixed groups have different expectations and play different roles in the group. Older students, more mature and experienced students realize that they have a more tutoring and protecting role for their younger group mates. Usually, these students are more willing to play this role, to act as mentors for their younger colleagues, than in the case when they have to cooperate in groups with mates of the same age. When children have to cope with mates of their age in groups, there are more possibilities of exhibiting aggressive and competitive behavior than cooperating. On the other have cooperation and productive interaction is much more likely to exist among groups of children of different ages. On cognitive level research indicates that the interaction of children with different abilities and maturity levels and experiences can in many cases produce cognitive conflicts and consequently contribute to cognitive restructuring. Younger mates are inspired by and try to comprehend models of behavior of their older mates not simply imitate behaviors. At the same time cognitive development occurs in older students as well since their role as tutors in the group require deep comprehension of the knowledge they are about to transfer. However as always there are not only beneficial outcomes by mixed ability grouping. Just putting some students together with different abilities doesn’t mean that one can guarantee satisfactory results on social and cognitive level for the students. The success of the attempt depends on taking into account several parameters like the appropriate age difference to have the appropriate range of abilities, the allocation of time to activities, the modification of the curriculum and good detailed planning by the teacher. There not enough data available indicating in detail the educational principles and the implementation strategies that mixed ability grouping should be governed by. However it is strongly believed that good planning and monitoring by experienced teachers could reveal the benefits of the technique easily. Mixed ability grouping is believed to be a valuable tool for the multigrade teacher. It can provide solutions for the multigrade teacher and safeguard good levels of quality in multigrade education. Moreover if the techniques like “peer – tutoring” or the “activity centers approach” along with utilization of ICT in multigrade classrooms are combined together with grouping techniques the results can be even more remarkable. Suggestions for further study - - - The Multigrade classroom , A resource for small Rural Schools, Book 5: Instructional Delivery and Grouping, NWREL, pages: 38-44* Nongraded and Mixed-Age Grouping in Early Childhood Programs, Katz G. L., ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL., (1992), http://www.ericfacility.net/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed351148.html Katz G. L., The benefits of Mixed- Age Grouping, ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL., (1995), http://www.ericfacility.net/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed382411.html Reese D., Mixed –Age Grouping: What does the research Say, and How Can Parents Use This Information?, Parent News Archives, 1998, http://npin.org/opnews/1998/pnews598b.html Suggestions for good practice and activities Activity 1 Within the framework of the activity you are going to set up mixed ability groups of students in a lesson of your choice and involving students from grades of your choice. You will be asked to design activities and develop supporting teaching and learning material if necessary for your groups. The utilization of ICT is strongly encouraged. Think of the most convenient lesson for you to implement mixed ability grouping Make any necessary rearrangements of your time schedule in order to be able to proceed with the activity in the selected subject Set up mixed ability groups - You should make mixed ability groups by selecting students of different age and grades, one or two years age difference provides the appropriate mixture of abilities for the groups. If you now your students and their potential well you can set up mixed ability groups with other criteria than age as well. * available at BSCW space for MUSE How many mixed ability groups you have? Write down in a piece of paper in columns the groups and the names of the students in each group respectively. Give names to the groups Write down a general description of the working mechanism of the groups you have chosen for the subject. - Try to find out working mechanisms for your groups. You should give the chance to students of the groups to be involved in activities that promote cooperation, self and group initiatives and improve collaborating social and cognitive skills of students. In addition it should be noted to students that the composition of the groups are not specified in permanent but students can change groups when it is appropriate. Develop special modules and worksheets for each student group and allow the group to work in parallel with modules of the same kind. Refer to the appendix below to find detailed TIPS on how to design learning modules and manage your mixed groups. - Activities that include games or role plays etc within each group are usually more than welcome by students. You are advanced to designed open learning activities that require students’ cooperation, imagination and initiatives. Use ICT and utilize all possible resources of your school like libraries, laboratories etc. or other learning centers. You can design activities where the students are going to be involved in outdoor open investigative activities as well. Work with your group on the activities. Utilise the modules you have developed, the resources you have and the learning centres you have established in your class Mixed Group Teaching TIPS on designing, developing and implementing activities The following tips represent a summary of an article of Wendy Cranston, Plymouth University published at BBCi’s webpage. The full text can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/tutors/expertcolumn/mixedability/index.shtml Use ideas from the Curriculum Use ideas in the Curriculum to help you prepare activities on a theme or topic that can be used at a variety of levels. This should be something that is familiar to the whole group. For example, television soaps, advertisements or supermarket shopping are all good themes. Curriculum references Use just two or three curriculum references to summarise the aims for the group in the session. Take these from the middle level for the group. Stretch the less able learners. Provide opportunities for the more advanced learners to consolidate their knowledge and share it with the group. Refer to the Sample Activities listed on the right-hand pages of the Curriculum. Discussion Include all members of the group in a discussion on the theme early in the session. Explain what makes a good discussion and point out that listening to others is as important as contributing views. Provide a variety of material Provide students with a variety of material to read on the theme. Ensure that the material is at an appropriate level for each student. Simplify texts and questions if necessary. Extension activities Develop extension activities for students who may complete their tasks quickly. Provide a more complex text or a practice worksheet. Offer the students a choice of activities if possible. Teaching strategies Try and incorporate a range of teaching strategies in order to accommodate all students' learning styles. For example you could include a tactile activity, an auditory exercise or a visual game. Through talking to your students find out about their learning preferences and gear their individual learning to that style of teaching. Make it fun! Include a light hearted group activity during the coffee break. Use a quiz or brain teaser. Encourage the more able students to bring a puzzle or game but always have a back-up in case they forget. Remember, you should enjoy your session as much as your students! And finally Use the final 5 or 10 minutes of your session to consolidate the group learning. Recap your main aims with additional examples. Find an imaginative way to assess outcomes for individuals. Write out the question "what do you know/can you do that you didn't know/couldn't do before today?" and get members of the group to offer suggestions. Describe in general the way you decided to work and the philosophy of the activities you designed. How did students react with this grouping lesson? What did they feel about it? Did you have to provide help to the groups several times or the students were able to work as groups more independently? What was the amount of direct teaching that you had to do? Suggestions for further study - - To see how an example of putting these teaching tips into practice you can read Wendy Cranston’s Advertisements lesson plan outline in the Lesson plans area of the Tutor centre: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/tutors/lessonplans/reading/index.shtml Other input for activities can be found at: http://ettc.uwb.edu.pl/strony/ptt/oct95/33gorska.html PROJECT MUSE TEACHERS TRAINING LESSON PLAN & EVALUATION Lessons’ Title: Grade: Date:. Other grades Present: Subject: Teaching Chapters of the Curriculum: Teaching Targets: Expected Results: Required Time and Teaching Time table (for all grades): Required Time: teaching hour/s A min B min C min D min E min Time devoted to the grade/group under main consideration (in minutes) Time devoted to other grades/groups present in the classroom (in minutes) Required Educational Material (books, notes, worksheets etc.): Required Equipment (ICT, lab equipment etc.): Required Software: Use of Internet and Links: Description of the subject to be taught: Prerequisite knowledge of students: Implementation Scenario: Steps to teaching of the subject: EVALUATION DATA Evaluation of students: (1 to 5) Group Pupil Group 1 Name1 Group 2 Attention Performance Cooperation Group Performance Name2 Name3 Name1 Name2 Name3 General Feeling of the class Did any specific problems occur during the lesson? Would you consider it as successful? Do you have any definite proposals for the improvement of teaching? General / Other comments?