This last week we joined 3 classes that have math at the same time and regrouped students into 3 semi-homogenous groups. We based the groupings on diagnostic data from iReady, an adapative program that gives us the grade level equivalency of students based on their performance across different strands in math:

- Number and operations
- Expression and equations
- Geometry
- Measurement and Data

My initial hesistancy when this was proposed was that this would become tracking and we’d be doing disservice to students who were below grade level. Here’s what we’re doing to ensure that this remains flexible grouping.

- We’ll be revisiting the groupings often. We’re open to moving students as needed.
- All groups take the same standard aligned exit ticket at the end of the week. The idea is to get students to be able to complete the same task, but the process and time to get there might be different. For example this weeks goal was for students to solve ratio word problems by generating equivalent ratios. My group, Group A, where students are at grade 5 equivalency or above immediately went into solving word problems without any scaffolds, group B (grade 2-grade 4) also solved word problems, but were given a table to organize their thinking. Then group C (below 2nd grade level) started with analyzing number patterns and then moved into the same lesson as group B.

Here’s some work that my students did the first day of the flexible classes.

I haven’t yet had a chance to look at student work from the different groups yet, but I’m excited about this a lot more than I was when it was first proposed. I’m looking forward to seeing students move around between groups in order to get the support that they need.

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My school used and still uses a form of flexible grouping at the elementary level. The evolution of the groupings (group by math strand, MAP scores, pre-assessment, one high group, three different levels) changed over time until we found a method that seemed to benefit all students. We decided to change kids at certain times of the year or if their skills indicated that they needed to move to a different group. The challenge was finding an appropriate time to move kids to different groups. I’m sure the logistics are different at a middle school. How is your team planning on moving students within the groups?

It’s something we still need to flush out. We have inquiry time where we’ll be looking at student work. The plan is to look at the groupings every other month to make the changes based on qualitative observations and the progress students make. We also plan on making changes as needed if necessary for individual students. It helps that we assess using SBG. If there are students who constantly work on extensions in group B it probably means they need to move to group A. If there are students in group A who I need to give additional scaffolds to, maybe they are better suited to be in group B. How often did you find that your school needed to make the changes?

We ended up changing the groups every month or so. Usually the groups changed after a pre-assessment or if the teacher had a concern with a particular student.