The past two years I have been trying to be very intentional and strategic about how I group my students. First of all, I want my kids to be able to form into groups quickly. Second, I want them to meet with a variety of classmates. Last, I want there always to be a natural leader in each group.
To get kids to get in groups quickly can often be a task. If I let my kids choose a partner, I see the same thing happen over and over. I will watch the smart, responsible, and dependable kids get swallowed up in a quick wave. I will then watch 2-4 kids wander like lost prom dates around the room. They use the corner of their gaze to eye their eventual partner as they think, "Him again." Letting my second grade student pick their own partners is chaotic and inefficient. To help with this problem, I start the school year off by creating a bunch of groups by a category.
For example this year every kids has a number group, color group, shoe group, shape group, president group, and state group. Then under each group I have the labels that divide the kids. So with the state group, some kids are Pennsylvania or New Jersey, others are New York or West Virginia. When I say meet with your color group, everyone is already divide and they meet quickly.
Each of the groups is a mix of different classmates, so that all kids learn to work together.
My last goal of trying to place a natural leader in every group is hard because I often make the groups before I get my students. I sometimes have to cheat and talk to the first grade teachers. Sometimes this part of my goal can fall through, and I have a dead-beat group that no one will take ownership in. This is the group that doesn't get done. This is the group that needs remixed!
One new thing I have added this year (just in the last week) is to create a dangling reading strategy sign above each group of students. I know have created a new category for each kid. The groups I create are now inferring, summarizing, making connections, and visualizing. I often have the kids sit with their reading strategy group when we meet on the floor for read aloud time. I then can direct questions to a certain group. The plan for the future is to move a few kids at a time to new reading strategies. I also plan to switch up some of the signs to new skills.
How do you group your students? I would love to hear your ideas.
Photo courtesy Flickr user Scott Maxwell Lumax Art www.lumaxart.com
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