Friday, May 22, 2009
Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom, Part 4
Today we are going to look at the idea of flexible grouping. This is another great tool in your bag of tricks for helping gifted children be successful in the regular classroom.
At the beginning of the year, with new students and new chances, we can start fresh and resolve to help our students. Every year, I choose to start fresh. I make a tentative curriculum plan, but without knowing my students I can't hold too tightly to my ideas on what the year will be like. I have to start with the students, and plan from there.
In reading and math particularly, I assess students for a general grade level placement. Everyone in my elementary school class takes a reading assessment that levels both their fluency and their comprehension. They have a chance to show what they know, and then a curriculum is shaped around their skill levels in those two areas.
The same happens in math. They are given an initial math placement test to determine their general grade level. . . I use these scores to form groups of children with similar abilities that can be given small group instruction. This past year, I had four math groups and five reading groups in my class of twenty third grade children. . . That's what we needed. Last year, in my kindergarten class, I had three math groups and four reading groups in my class of fifteen students. My groups change based on my students' needs.
It doesn't end there with initial groupings. Throughout the year, different children progress at different rates. One student may have greater fluency progression and may move flexibly through the different groups. As their reading fluency increases, they may also show greater comprehension. A student may move up three levels or may progress only a standard level.
The same can happen in math. A student may be two grades ahead in fraction understanding, but may be on grade level for their multiplication understanding.
Even in your groups, you cannot hold too tightly to a student placement. Gifted children are enigmas, and must constantly be evaluated and assessed, informally, to make sure they are receiving the right instruction.
I'd be happy to share my placement tests and reading inventories if you need ideas. If you would like specific tips or suggestions for structuring and managing flexible groups, please let me know!