A reader sent in the following questions.


I have been reading your book (The Fundamental 5, by Cain & Laird) and have some questions.  How do you decide whom to group together?  And how often do you change groups?

SC Response Great questions! For the first question, the answer is that groupings are made solely on the basis of teacher intent and instructional needs.  Overall there isn’t a right or wrong answer.  There are times when based on the planned activity or discussion that the teacher will need homogeneous (usually ability based) student groupings.  Then there are times that the teacher will desire heterogeneous (usually mixed ability) student groupings. And there will be times that all the teacher needs is just student groups so random mixing is appropriate. My rule of thumb is if you find yourself over-using a particular grouping dynamic, then purposefully mix it up. The effect on the classroom will be immediate and energizing.

As for the second question, the answer again is that the decision is made solely on the basis of teacher intent and needs.  I have observed teachers who switch groupings multiple times a days.  I usually switched my groups daily and there are teachers who maintain a group for up to three weeks.  All that I want to know is that the teachers made a purposeful decision and that on at least a semi-regular basis, students have an opportunity to work and learn with students of all abilities and personality types.

I hope this helps and thank you for reading the book and working to implement The Fundamental 5 in your classroom.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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