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 Successful Ability Groups 
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In the article about ability grouping it says that in order for them to be successful, we need to avoid locking teachers and students in assignments and to reassess often to move people where they need to be and use tutorials to catch-up students in missed curriculum. The other tip is to have high expectations for ALL not low expectations for "low students." Recently, a 2nd grade teacher I have worked with for many years was told she was being moved to the 4th grade. She has 36 years or more teaching experience and is handicapped. I have worked with her for 8 years and have found myself increasingly doing more for her to keep everything flowing smoothly. She was stunned and begged the principal not to move her in exchange for retiring after one more year. The principal said that the Superintendent said if the principal got people in the correct places, people would not have to worry about EOG's......they would just naturally flow. I guess this is what the article is referring to...not locking this teacher into her comfort zone. She is actually experienced at the 4th grade and EOG testing and will probably be fine. However, we all think it's a ploy to get her to retire being masked in the veil of creating a natural flow and not locking people into their places. I don't know if I would ever want to be a principal. The job seems to include many hard decisions and you're constantly under the telescopic/microscopic EYE of ALL.

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Stella


Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:27 pm
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It seems as though all the remediation, remedial groups, AIG, Title 1, and even Resource goes against heterogeneous grouping. (I cannot beleive I'm saying this.)


Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:48 pm
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I agree with some ability grouping. I do this as well as continuous assessment to make sure students are where they need to be as they make progress. If a student is struggling with number recognition I will work with them until they get it-even if it takes until the end of the year. I don't think it right to teach and then assess and jsut drop it if they don't get it. I know we as teachers have to move on to cover the curriculum, but sometimes we have to pull "those" kids aside and continue to reteach and reteach and .....

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Ann Paschal


Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:28 pm
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I feel sometimes that my low ability group isn't fair enough. I feel like there is a child who is almost ready to move into the higher group but not quite. The higher group would be dragged down with lower readers in their group. If he were surrounded by a few more fluent readers more often he could get there. I try to get a lot of partner reading in to bridge the gap, but that takes time. As it is, there are some really choppy readers and students who suffer with some kind of dislexia in his lower group. My ideas of using low level readers theater and the chance to perform to motivate them are out of the question because the reading is too choppy to make an audience sit through that. So, maybe I need to make another reading group, but I have 4 already and to make another isn't realistic within the time frame.
I must say though, it is so cool to have all the wide range of levels in my 1st grade class. I feel like if I can boost a bunch of quick learners at the beginning of the year, I can use them as assistants. Basically that gives me about 13 assistants a year to bridge the gap. The big thing is getting them to be a patient assistant and use techniques I model like echo reading. And I've found that they love to be helpful in getting low level kids up to par. How different would it be then, if the children in Kozol's novel partnered up in such a way. Sometimes, I think we underutilize our greatest resource. We just have to get out of the mindset of "I'm better than" to make it happen.

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Suzanne McMahon


Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:59 pm
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Suzanne,

Thanks so much for posting about your partnering of the kids. This is the kind of thing that can make such a difference in how kids learn and how they perceive others - from both sides, the one who is being "assisted" and the one who is doing the assisting.

It does take so much work though, as you say, and it goes against all the hierarchical "I'm better than you" thinking that we inadvertently (and intentionally!) foster at school.

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Gayle Turner


Wed Jun 14, 2006 11:50 am
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I have taught AIG students, inclusion, and regular education. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages. I feel that children should be grouped not necessarily on their IQ or EOG scores (which usually happens in our county) but on their work ethic. I have witnessed children with low self-esteen issues and academic abilities thrive in a room where there were students with various academic needs. We teachers should not evaluate students on a standardized exam, but on their capabilities and growth from the beginning to the end of the school year. By utilizing learning styles, compacting, and contracts teachers have a better means to assess their children. Ability grouping is very misleading for the teacher, parent, and the child. Students will quickly learn if they are considered the top performers or not. Children will rise to the expectations set before them...whether it's low or high.

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Nicole Atkins


Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:48 pm
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I personaly like to use ability grouping in my classroom. It is not nessecearly the best solution in all situations, but it is a wonderful tool to use in the classroom. Grouping students by their ability allows them to have conversations on their level. I don't think that they should be used all the time, but it very beneifical for all students to have access to students more like them at least one time per day.

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Morgan Lancaster


Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:20 pm
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Ability grouping is a subject dear to my heart. As most of you know due to earlier conversations about it, my third grade team groups ability wise in reading. We have done it for the last nine years. It has been effective, and also easier for us! I can't imagine having 4 reading groups in my class. Having said this though, I am not adverse to the idea of multiple reading groups in my classroom. If my principal were to tell me tomorrow that we could not ability group any more, I wouldn't be devastated (though some of my team members would be). I think the jury is still out on the subject of how advantageous ability grouping is. I know there is research that doesn't support it, and I am willing to listen and change my teaching practices if it becomes necessary. In the meantime, I will ENJOY making lesson plans for only one level!

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Suzanne Averett


Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:20 pm
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As Suzanne said I know a little about abiltiy grouping. I find that it is an instant tracker for children. As Stella said we lock kids and teachers into a cage. I think that we must abiltity group with in our classes but it is not necessary, to my thinking, that it be done across grade level or school. I feel that it is a way to improve test scores but in all honesty I was much likely to teach whole group when we abliltiy group that i am now with a hetrogenous class.

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Melia Waters


Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:43 am
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