Best Practices for Flexible Grouping

Flexible grouping is a powerful and efficient practice for improving learning. It allows your learners to get the right support, in the right way, at the right time. When flexible grouping is part of the class routine, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about one or more learners working with the educator on a specific project. Learners who struggle don’t feel singled out or stigmatized.

And because groups change often and aren’t based on ability level alone, all learners have the chance to get to know and work with each other. In fact, according to research, all learners in classes that utilize flexible grouping show educational gains. In this brief article, we will discuss best practices for flexible grouping in the classroom.

Best Practices for Flexible Grouping

Review data to decide which learners to group.

Once you have identified your learning goal, you can turn to learner data to guide your decisions about how to group learners. For instance, revisiting the exit tickets from a previous day can pinpoint which learners didn’t fully master the learning objective. You can then group them to practice that skill. Also, the responses to an equation on the board can help you form groups for the day. The learners who understood it can move on and can’t be grouped to get more support and practice.

Set guidelines for how the groups will work.

Work with your learners to create expectations for group work. For instance, you might set the expectation that small groups have a timekeeper, a note-taker, and someone to be in charge of the materials. Also, mandate that only one person in a group can speak at a time and that all group members have a chance to speak during the work time. Clear expectations are critical to efficient groups.

Prompt learners to reflect.

Build-in time at the end of a lesson for learners to talk about what they learned. Did they meet the learning goal? What lingering questions do they have? How efficiently did their group work? What could they do better next time? Learners can reflect in a whole group discussion via an exit ticket or part of the group’s learning assignment. This process can assist you in making decisions for the future groups you’ll create, like which learners may have the same unresolved questions or misunderstandings.

In this article, we have discussed three best practices for using flexible grouping in the classroom. Can you think of anything that we missed? If so, post them in the comment section below.

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