I think the point is the teacher need to know that he is not just focus on the low ability students, because the high ability students also have the to learn during the lesson.
According to my teaching practice experience, I think even the same exercise can suit both the high and low ability students. For example, I usually let them have short writing exercise(i.e. 100-150 words within 10min) during the lesson, after I mark the exercise , I will show the good one and explain it to the students. After around 3-4 exercises, I found that both the low and high ability students have improvement. I am not sure that I had this observation because I had my teaching practice in a high banding school.
I think we can apply a method that we have learnt form the previous lesson to tackle the individual difference, that is the round robin. What round robin is that students will be grouped and different groups will read articles of related topic, and then each group jot down some important notes on a piece of paper. After some time, let's say 5 minutes, then the reading materials and notes will be circulates to another group to read. Materials will be circulated in a clockwise way until all of the groups have read the resources. As in the lesson, teacher usually have to face a difficulty of having not enough teaching time. Using this method can save time as students of corresponding group have jotted down some important notes and other students can see them. Other students can take a look and get more information while they are not familiar with the articles. Moreover, students with high ability can be able to the one who jots notes and the students will lower ability won't get lost as they can read the notes jotted by others students and have a clearer understanding.
Round robin not only saves time for handling massive content and facilitates high-ability students for built-on and helps the low-ability students, it also solve the problems of space required in "gallery tour" which is another participative coop learning strategies. Please be aware that time control is very important. There shouldn't be too long or too short in each round. Too long will creat idle time while too short makes the task very rushy and students may not learn much. In senior primary or secondary classes, it will be nice to have a high-ability student to type up the final version for students' further reference while the "posters" are very nice decoration of the class to raise their motivation.
And should we decide which subject we will focus first? As in my opinion, different subject will have totally different teaching method and activity.
For example, I think short writing I mentioned before can be treated as a method to tackle individual differences. It is because differentiated instruction is more qualitative that quantitative(Tomlinson C.A. , 2001). For the low ability students, short writing is not difficult, for the high ability students, short writing can be very difficult as they may apply different skills in the writing. For the comment given by the teacher, both the high or low ability students can learn how to write a good short writing with examples.
But this method also have restrictions, it can only apply to the higher banding school(i.e. Band 1 or upper band 2) as the students have higher motivation to learn. For the one who hate writing or ability is as low as cannot write a complete short writing. This method may not appropriate to them.
Tomlinson, C.A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD
In respond to the question and your comments, we can make use of the four foundational elements of a curriculum, which include objective, content, method and evaluation, especially focus on the method and evaluation (assessment methods) to tackle the problem.
With the tight teaching schedule, teachers rush for the lessons and seldom willing to spend time to try new teaching methods although they have discovered the individual deference between students. As what Cathy and Ken mentioned above, classroom activities, especially the effective use of grouping method, can save teaching time and reduce the problem of individual deference. What I am talking about is “effective” grouping method. Throughout my learning experience and teaching practicum, teachers did not prefer grouping activities as they think that it is a waste of time and does not bring any learning outcomes. Teachers’ attitude towards grouping is grouping only makes the lesson more interactive. However, the guest speaker in the previous lesson mentioned that grouping is not just interactive but participative, which is students with different learning abilities will gain from the activities, just like round robin or jigsaw.
How can grouping become participative and effective according to the teaching culture and habit of the school. As in both primary and secondary practicums, I have tried some grouping activities, such as jigsaw, however, the outcome is not so good. Students have the habit of grouping activities. After discussed the topic in their small group, students(secondary students) were not serious when they were sharing their points of view to the other groups. It seems that they are quite passive. It also takes time to allocate students to different group and supervise their discussion. Lesson cannot go on smoothly. That is why it is important to train and set up a habit of applying grouping activities at the beginning of the term.
After grouping activities, different assessment method can be used to reinforce students learning, such as assign different ability students for different job, like one has to fill in a worksheet, one has to present in class ect. Therefore, teachers can follow up the improvement of the students.
As mentioned by our guest speaker, effective grouping can really help solve the problem of individual difference as well as saving teaching time. So, should we focus more on grouping activities, and amend our question as "How to tackle individual difference within limited time and resources by various grouping method and their effectiveness?
I think this comment is insightful! In terms of how to deal with the individual difference in classroom based on effective grouping.
In our teaching, it is inevitable to design and organize some group tasks for our students. This, however, could be difficult when huge individual difference is detected.
But after listening to Crystal's suggestion on effective grouping, the introduction of interesting activities, diffentiated worksheets and adjusted assessment methods - I think group activities could actually be modified to maximize the needs of every students.
I do think grouping is a key component that teachers can use to maximize their teaching effectiveness. It is better to focus on grouping.
Teachers have difficulties to reach all students in every lessons. Students get knowledge not only by teachers' direct teaching, but they also learn from one another in lesson through discussion and cooperation. It is ideal for them to contribute what everyone of them thinks and to get the points from others. And teachers and other groups can play a role to give summaries or judge which points are reasonable and should be noticed.
Like Wai Yee points out, some students are not so active in discussions. Maybe there are ways to encourage them to be more active. For example, by assessments which like filling in group worksheet or request them to write group or individual journals or even give short presentations are good ways to let them know they need to take part in every discussions.
But for group works as assessment, some of them may still be passive once they are not the one who writes or some silent students may not talk at all though they may listen to others' opinion. So other than assigning roles in discussion, maybe some methods should be used to encourage them to speak or not to speak too much to ensure everyone contributes and get something from the discussion. Giving them maximum or minimum chances to express their opinions or talking about their own points in groups is a possible way.
For individual assignment, the most obvious benefit is that teachers can make sure all students really learn from the discussion. And they can also assess the ability of every students to see if they need to further approach anyone to boost their performance or to help them improve. But the drawback,still, is that teachers will have really high workload. This may be solved by random checks of students individual work instead of a full check for teachers to save time? Or even different formats of individual worksheet can help such as multiple choices or true/false questions which are more easily marked by teachers and teaching assistants.
Also, one point is also very important, which is good preparation. This includes training for grouping and also a clear explanation of why and how they learn by discussion for secondary students. Once they learn why and how they learn by discussion, they might become more active because some of them are outcome-oriented. those students might also play a role in encouraging their group-mates to contribute.
Another problem comes as Ken said, which is that different methods should be applied for students with different bands. Grouping might be a possible way to maximize teaching effectiveness, but will it work in every schools in Hong Kong? After all, students' motives to learn are so different in different school. So if we are going to narrow down the topic into grouping, should we also modify it to be more specific on any bands of students (also primary or secondary)?
I suggest we focus on secondary school as we are more familiar with its context. And for the banding question, I think we can focus on the middle or higher, but not the highest banding school(i.e. lower band 1 and higher band 2). It is because the students most benefit from different curriculum design are the middle ability students. It is because the highest ability students have the ability to learn by themselves, epically in secondary school. And for the lowest ability students, they usually totally withdraw from the lesson, which means they seldom response to the teacher.
For grouping, I would like to share my experience. I think why students choose not to share their points of view is because they do not think the sharing is interesting or meaningful. Therefore, I would like to add some competitive elements into the group sharing.
For example, in the context of a Chinese language lesson, students need to argue that who need to bear the most responsibility for the death of a character in a friction (i.e. Xianglin Sister, a character in the stories written by Lu Xun《祝福》中之「祥林嫂」). If student want to make a convincing argument, they need to have knowledge of Chinese culture and understand the story deeply. During discussion, each group will represent a character, after discussion time, they will have a debate. After that , they need to vote which character need to bear the most responsibility. This design is develop from Wai Yee idea, the main difference is add competitive element in it. What is your opinion?
It seems that we are quite interested on how grouping and corresponding assessments can help teachers tackle individual differences within limited teaching time. So may we just focus on it?
And for the target we are going to focus on, maybe as what Ken has suggested, which is middle level students. There are always learning differences between students and middle level students usually being neglected. So we can target on middle banding school and see how grouping can minimize their learning differences.
Moreover, what we have discussed above are only the grouping methods. How about the classroom setting which can be used to facilitate various kind of grouping? Do you still remember what our guest speaker introduce to us? The U-shape seating plan with an open area at the middle of the classroom which can serve as a podium for students to present their work as well as teachers can stand and keep a close contact with the students throughout the lesson. This setting provides convenient and flexible environment for grouping. Thus, we may also consider about how classroom setting can enhance the effect of grouping.
Last but least, should we also decide which subject we are going to focus on? As we are from different subject major.
To reply the above comments, I realize that we are interested in the grouping method and assessments can help to tackle to problem of individual differences with limited teaching time.
Refer to Wai Yee's comment, she found out that classroom setting may be a way, we can do inside the classroom. Says U-shaped classroom arrangement, actually, it is a really novel classroom arrangement. According to the previous guest speaker, he mentioned that it is really efficient classroom management to nowadays teaching methods as we previously discussed for classroom activity we may use different grouping for maximize our lessons, says 4 people a group. And students are required to do some group work like worksheet, discussion, etc. For this U-shaped arrangement, students are arranged like 4 a group. Thus, it reduces the time cost for teachers to ask them for grouping.
However, there are some drawbacks in this method. Maybe the students will only discuss with nearby. Since they can't move around the classroom but nearby. Besides, the guest speaker said when teachers are going to group them together, we should put them with similar level, it motivates them to learn, at the same time, I concern much more about the labeling of the students with low level or middle level. Although grouping elite is a way to encourage students, but it varies in different banding of schools.
I remembered the speaker said we can choose some students in middle level work with great attitudes and satisfied work. Try to upgrade them to better groups, and downgrade some elite with bad performance in class by month to month. It makes the classroom atmosphere more dynamic. For long time, I think it also maximize the efficiency of teaching as students become more aggressive for higher level groups. Aim to become elite.
How about we focus on maths? Although it is strange subject to us, we didn't study in maths, maybe we brainstorm more new and novel ideas to have some creative activities and grouping to maximize the teaching.
In response to the suggestion that we should focus on one specific subject, I think it'd be more efficient for us to come up with different tackling methods without a subject limitation since we're all from various majors and hence we're more specialised in our academic field. I suggest that we can just propose some general methods which are applicable to different subjects and give a specific subject as an example to support our idea. What do you think?
In my opinion ,as the strength of our group is we have Wai Yee, who had finished her teaching practice. The advantage of finish teaching practice is can think the suggestion in a real case, I agree that general discussion is needed, but I have asked Sally that for our presentation, it can be a method use in the real classroom, which mean context is needed. What do you think?
Base on what Wai yee said, I suggest that when we decide the classroom setting, we can focus on the normal case, because what the guest speaker said is base on the larger classroom size, but actually, we all know that secondary school classrooms usually are small and crowded, then how can we make use of the facilities that we face?
In my opinion, training for the student is important, because if student not familiar with the grouping method, they will use lots of time on it, which is ineffective. For what I say before, the classroom size is usually small, therefore, it is more effective that decide the grouping as follow:
1 2 1 2 1 2
3 4 3 4 3 4
1 2 1 2 1 2
3 4 3 4 3 4
The above picture shows that student can divided into groups with their neighbor in front of or behind them.
Other thing we need to think about is the role of the teacher.
’When teachers differentiate instruction, they move away from seeing themselves as keepers and dispensers of knowledge and move toward seeing themselves as organizers of learning opportunities.’ (Tomlinson C.A. , 2001)
It is important that for the teacher changes his mind, the comment problem that for grouping is teacher already has ‘suggested answers’, but the most important thing that student learn in grouping is learn how to think and distinguish what is good argument and what is bad argument, therefore, teacher do not need to have the ‘right’ answer. Through the discussion of the student, teacher can teach students how to think in different dimension. Although this kind of lesson setting is totally different from my learning experience, I think it can have student to be more active in class. What do you think?
Actually, we discussed a lot on grouping inside the classroom, maybe Jigsaw, Rainbow grouping makes students to interact inside the group. However, the lower level of students may feel embarrassed to share since they will think they are not intelligent as good as the top students.
To me, I realize that we can have better idea. Try to use online grouping, says using 'Weebly', 'Wall Wisher', etc. We just need to group different levels students together, or even group the same level students together. let them disucss on some topics with deadlines, and they need to post their about 2-3 comments in two weeks. Therefore, it tackles the problems of students who are lower abilty students reluctent to share their opinion inside classroom. Besides, it motivates them to discuss by using ICT since most of the students nowadays like using computer. Not only the same group can take a look on their own group, but also take a look of other group discussions. What I mean is that it addresses the problems of limited time and resources as online grouping can provide extra time for students to disucss. Drawbacks are make students have more burden to do it, just like doing homework.
Online grouping is no doubt a time-saving method becuase not only can it enhance students' autonomy but also, frankly speaking, save precious class time. In order to tackle the drawbacks that students might have more burden on doing the "extra-work", teachers can decorate the online dicussion website like putting class photos on it to make students more engaged into the online discussion.
What a wonderful idea :)
Using discussion thread like wallwisher, weebly, wordpress etc faciliates both high ability and low ability to contribute. The able students find it useful to extend their learning while the less-able ones have more time and courage to do that. Research in both HK and overseas find that this "delay response" is very effective. I had a dyslexic student who contributed the most in the form. Can't believe that.
Extra burden / workload for students? --- it depends on how you motivation them. It is useful to spend about 10 mins every week to go through some good posts (or the group leaders can present their favourite pick) and some little gifts are given.
Extra burden/ workload for teachers? --- teachers may not have time to read all but they can read randomly to see the general picture. Respond to a few posts and students will spread around that teachers do care. OR/ AND asked the leader to present their most important post and their favourite post of other groups. In this way, you can have a glance on what they have contributed without spending hours in the forum to "monitor" their post.
Let's revise our topic:
How can grouping help the teachers to achieve maximum teaching effectiveness within limited time and resources to tackle individual differences?
Hello, I am a guest contributor on this site. I have been a teacher for more than 7 years in primary schools around the globe and have worked in the area of special needs for more than 7 years. This combined experience has provided the opportunity to explore many techniques and theories to address these issues.
Your contributions have been insightful and have pointed to the idea that is there is no right answer, no absolute solution.
I am going to suggest some possible ideas around your revised topic-
Cooperative Learning Models; are student centred and student driven, where students are given the opportunity to learn from each other and use their own unique skills/knowledge.
Group work; grouping students with similar students or in differentiated groups will change the dynamic, and can be varied depending on the intended results or the learning.
Have homogenous groups come up with their own learning objectives based on a unified (whole class) outcome.
Allow students the opportunity to work alone or in smaller groups.
Peer tutoring- higher ability students tutor lower ability students
Set up of small group rotational activities; some groups being more independent than others, the independent groups have an expectation to explore their own learning and to challenge themselves (perhaps the teacher can set some tasks) some groups, more teacher directed and teacher supported.
Hi Maureen Codispodi, it was so nice to meet you online! Thanks for your sharing and I have learnt a lot from you!
Group work indeed plays a critical role in class nowadays. I would like to shed light on one of the grouping methods which is commonly practiced by teachers. That is the "Think-Pair-Share" strategies.
Think-Pair-Share is a strategy designed to provide students with "food for thought" on a given topics enabling them to formulate individual ideas and share these ideas with another student. It is a learning strategy developed by Lyman and associates to encourage student classroom participation. Rather than using a basic recitation method in which a teacher poses a question and one student offers a response, Think-Pair-Share encourages a high degree of pupil response and can help keep students on task.
I think Think-Pair-Share can fulfill the statement mentioned by Maureen Codispodi that higher ability students tutor lower ability students.
What Maureen Codispodi mentioned is not just about the grouping method but also the group size.
I think Think-Pair-Share can be used as a "warm up" exercise for students to discuss those easy questions or as an activity to arouse students' attention to the lesson. It also path the way to large group discussion with more complicated questions.
I want to ask Chau Wai Yee,
Do you mean that the questions we ask should from easy to difficult and the grouping methods should also change when the difficulties are different? This can also be one of the discussion topic for us- Different grouping methods can be used in different situation and in our poster, we can mention it a little bit
Ka Man, in fact what I mean is the advantage of homogenous grouping. As students with the same ability are grouped together, so teacher can assign questions which are suitable for them and students become more willing to contribute their ideals within the group. Moreover, combined with Jigsaw, different level's questions can be discussed and shared too.
Thanks for Maureen Codispodi's sharing and I do think your teaching experiences can help us do this project.
Nowadays, working in groups become an imperative experience for students during lessons. And some good methods really help students improve their leaning initiative and make them enjoy learning and having group work. I want to share a method called "Gallery Tour" so as to give all of you some ideas. This is a method for students to show their work in front of the class. Each one of the students will have a vote such as a small sticker. Then he can put his sticker onto the work that he thinks the best. After voting, we can find out which work has the highest number of stickers and teacher can also give some opinions over these work. This activity can raise students' interests in presenting their work because the can have chances to be praised by their classmates. This is essential for raising students' initiatives in learning.
However, teachers have to believe their students can have their own choice and they can choose the one they think the best.
I think this passage can brainstorm you
It is no doubt that interesting activities can raise students' intrinsic motivation to learn and "Gallery Tour" is one of the best solutions when teachers come across situations like students have low attention span in class. However, I think teachers should put an emphasis on the sharing part which students have to give reasons to explain why they choose or vote for the work. This can hence ensure a certain degree of teacher-student interaction.
Cathy is right. About the sharing part. I think teachers can also know how well students learn from the activities so that they can determine whether they should actively approach and help the students who have not yet reached the learning objectives of the activity; also to further reinforce and guide those with good performance to achieve even more on the learning objectives.
Thanks for Maureen Codispodi's sharing, which inspires us to think from other points of view.
So far, we have discussed various kind of grouping methods to enhance teaching and try to reduce the problem of individual difference, such as Think pair share, Gallary Tour, Jigsaw ect. But what Maureen Codispodi pointed out is not only the types of grouping we may use, but also how we assign students to different group, that is differentiated grouping or homogenous grouping. It is always said that differentiated grouping is better as the high-ability students can help the low-ability ones. In fact, if differentiated grouping is always being used, in long term, the high-ability students just like being exploited and may not be patient to help those with learning difficulties. On the other hand, the low-ability ones will rely on the others and be passive to contribute to the group. Therefore, differentiated grouping cannot be always used. In fact, homogenous grouping has its adventages. Students with same ability are grouped together, they are therefore more confident to share their opinions. And teachers can according to each group’s ability to assign different level’s questions. Just like the application of Jigsaw, each group is assigned with different question according to their ability. After first round discussion, each group leader will share their findings to other groups. During their sharing, the high-ability students can give their opinions to enhance other groups findings. This can help teacher save time and make discussion being more effective.
I agree with you, although students in differentiated grouping can have some high ability leader to guide them, they cannot do the work independently when they are having individual work. Also, the high ability students in the group may hold the discussion all the time and this may reduce the time for other students to share and this also reduce their confidence to voice out their opinion.
Then the group-to-group sharing can enable to give advice to other groups so as to brainstorm them and give them some directions to improve their work.
Thus, we are going to say that homogenous grouping somehow may be better than differentiated grouping. What Maureen Codispodi mentioned is that we are not going to focus which method is better. However, we need to know which type of grouping is more suitable for students. For long term, differentiated grouping is not efficient to high-ability which has been mentioned above.
I would like to reply Cathy Chong said, group-to-group sharing not only can give advice to other group, students also play another role, other than students, they become a teacher to give advice to other, which makes them feel satisfied or even more confident. It is really a big advantage for students to learn.
I think we all agree that we need to know which types of grouping is more suitable for students, as Mui Ho Ting said. That means we should focus more on the advantages and limitations of each grouping methods. Should we include some examples of using different grouping methods in different situation when we illustrate the thing we have discuss?
For instance, Jigsaw can be used to guide students to discuss different question. This can be used in subjects such as Chinese Language to guide students think of different questions about the same article. More specifically, this is suitable for subjects like liberal studies which require students to think about several parties' opinions.
From the above discussion and what we have discussed in class, it is quite clear that we should first think of different types of grouping, in conclude, there should be pair grouping, gallery tour, jigsaw, rainbow grouping, e-learning grouping. Then, we have to think of the effectiveness of different grouping, which subject is suitable to apply it? When should be applied? Maybe some can be used at the beginning of the class so as to arouse students' attention, like pair up discussion. Some big size grouping, like Jigsaw, should be used to discuss the main topic of the lesson. Then, some may be used to give conclusion to the lesson. Which and when to be used , according to the feature of the topic being discussed.
Another grouping strategy is the rainbow grouping mentioned by the guest speaker in our class.
In which, students in the same group are assigned with same number or colour label. After discussing the question in the home group, they need to rearrange them into new groups so that each group have members from every number.
I think this grouping method is a bit like jigsaw but this require even more space for the group rearrangement than jigsaw because almost all students are moving around when group reforming. It might create a chaos and teacher applying this should notice about class management. Maybe it should be apply to higher forms because they are more 'in control' and they move faster when reforming groups?
But it also have advantages because everyone need to share their home group findings to others because the are the only one who thought about the specific home group question in the reform group. It can prevent them off from the home group discussion or refuse to speak in reformed groups.
about cooperative learning. i think this british website can be helpful for us. It talked about group size, teacher's roles and other issues teachers should notice when appling cooperative learning.
I suggest that we should list out all the major possible grouping methods and critique their effectiveness like we had discussed before. Then, with enough information about different grouping methods, we will be able to allocate different grouping strategies into different teaching objectives to enhance teaching efficiency.
I'm interested in investigating the pairing method (i.e. two students in a group). After reading some research articles concerning students’ pairing, I have summarized the following key ideas that teachers should pay attention to while teaching.
• Assign Partners - Be sure to assign discussion partners rather than just saying "Turn to a partner and talk it over." When you don't assign partners, students frequently turn to the most popular student and leave the other person out.
• Change Partners - Switch the discussion partners frequently. With students seated in teams, they can pair with the person beside them for one discussion and the person across from them for the next discussion.
• Give Think Time - Be sure to provide adequate "think time." I generally have students give me a thumbs-up sign when they have something they are ready to share.
• Monitor Discussions - Walk around and monitor the discussion stage. You will frequently hear misunderstandings that you can address during the whole-group that discussion that follows.
• Timed-Pair-Share - If you notice that one person in each pair is monopolizing the conversation, you can switch to "Timed-Pair-Share." In this modification, you give each partner a certain amount of time to talk. (For example, say that Students #1 and #3 will begin the discussion. After 60 seconds, call time and ask the others to share their ideas.)
Rallyrobin - If students have to list ideas in their discussion, ask them to take turns. (For example, if they are to name all the geometric shapes they see in the room, have them take turns naming the shapes. This allows for more equal participation.) The structure variation name is Rallyrobin (similar to Rallytable, but kids are talking instead of taking turns writing).
• Randomly Select Students - During the sharing stage at the end, call on students randomly. You can do this by having a jar of popsicle sticks that have student names or numbers on them. (One number for each student in the class, according to their number on your roster.) Draw out a popsicle stick and ask that person to tell what their PARTNER said. The first time you do this, expect them to be quite shocked! Most kids don't listen well, and all they know is what they said! If you keep using this strategy, they will learn to listen to their partner.
• Questioning - Think-Pair-Share can be used for a single question or a series of questions. You might use it one time at the beginning of class to say "What do you know about ________ ?" or at the end of class to say "What have you learned today?"
Please take a look of the above reminders, some of them are applicable to other grouping strategies as well!
One of the biggest challenges of the pairing is to get all students to truly be engaged.
Obviously, teachers hope that they have selected questions that are sufficiently interesting to capture student attention. However, they might also want to consider other ways to increase the likelihood of student participation. Teachers can find ways to increase student awareness of the likelihood their group might be called upon to share their answer with the entire class. For example, teachers can use some of the discussion questions on exams and make it clear to students that that is the case. Once students are alert to the discussion questions, they will be more aware to the process of discussion and acquire the knowledge generated through peers' sharing.
Thanks Miss Maureen points out the main problem Hong Kong teachers is facing. As most teachers grew up from the traditional learning and teaching culture, which is teacher is the only one that have the knowledge, what students need to do are learning from the teacher. Take me as an example, during the teaching practice period; I believe that the traditional teaching method is the most efficient way for me to finish all the chapters in the textbook. But when I read more and think more, I am starting to find that even I finish my lesson, it is not necessary mean students have learnt.
Grouping is one of the way for students to develop the knowledge by themselves, but are we really given students opportunity to learn from each other and use their own unique skills or knowledge? In my opinion, following questions are important in student base learning. As after the group presents their idea, teacher usually lack of following questions, or the questions are just some factual questions. It is normal that teachers need to have a strict control on the teaching time as we usually claim that we have many topics need to go-over. In my opinion, what student leant is more important than what teacher teach. Therefore, after grouping presentation, teacher can have some following questions for students to think, even let them discuss it on the on-line platform. Then students can learnt from each other.
For the homogeneous grouping, I think what teacher can design is different level of question. It is because under homogenous grouping, students will be grouped by their ability, then for the lower ability groups, what they present can be used as the step stone for the discussion, then the higher ability groups are not just present their ideas, what they need to do are merging their ideas into the lower ability groups’ ideas. At last, the highest ability groups need to evaluate if the present of the before groups are logical, which is a critical thinking training. In my opinion, nowadays we always focus on teaching knowledge, but not teaching how the knowledge constructs. Therefore, for what the high ability students can help to help the low ability students is teach them how to construct knowledge. Unless student know to think, the problem of individual difference can be eliminate.
Ken talks about a very common challenge for teachers in Hong Kong, which is changing the education way into constructivism. Teacher's should not just tell students knowledge but to help them learn how to learn and know more about what they want to learn is important.According to Piaget, learners are active so they choose to learn what they want to learn. The role of teacher in education should be helping students to learn what they want to (although it might only be the ideal case). I think we can introduce our aim by using Piaget's theory so we can have stronger background on why we choose to let students group and discuss and discover the things by themselves.
Another point is that the time that teachers giving lecture should not be longer than 1/3 of the whole lesson accordning to our lecture today. Students may not have that long period of concentration and teachers should limit their lengh of speech if possible. So if we assume helping students to reach the learning objectives with constructivism, grouping should utterly be a choose of teachers to maximize the teaching effectiveness.
This website may help us know more about constructivism:
http://saskschoolboards.ca/research/instruction/97-07.htm#What is Constructivism?
Referring to what Dr. Wan coded from other group’s saying “teachers are just small potatoes”. I do don’t think so. It is truly that teaching schedule is tight and teachers always need to rush for the lesson. According to my practicums in both primary and secondary school, teachers are still using traditional method to teach Chinese, which is chalk and talk. As from the classroom setting, you may know the teaching culture of the school. Even in primary school, students are sit separately, grouping is difficult to apply in this setting. I have tried group work in my primary school practicum. Students are so excited and intended to learn. Although I have spent much time on grouping, students’ learning intention is really improved.
Teachers are not small potatoes. If you are eager to try, it can really help students in an unexpected way. But at the beginning you have to spend much time to set up a cooperative learning culture in the class, so grouping work can go on smoothly throughout the term. What’s more, the activities are not to arouse the attention of the students. It should be under a context that related to what you what student to learn, which is what effective grouping means.
More to add is teacher is an important factor to effective grouping. It should believed that when there is a trial, there is a way. When I was in my secondary practicum, I tried to use Jigsaw as recommended by my mentor. Eventually, the discussion result is not so good. However, this gives me a chance to revise the use of Jigsaw. I can still get some insight from it.
As I am interested and have tried Jigsaw in my practicum, here are some factors should be considered:
-set up guideline and habit of grouping at the beginning of the term, this can help teacher save time , and therefore, teachers will be more willing to use Jigsaw.
-it can be used in discussing complicated questions and teachers can assign different question to each group, so lesson can go on effectively as at the same time various questions are being discussed.
-each time should change the leader, so each student can have opportunity to share and report their discussion to others.
-should be with task or written record to motivate students’ attention when they are sharing their discussion result to other group.
The benefits of Jigsaw:
-peer assessment: as students can give opinion on other groups when leaders are changing with groups.
I totally disagree that teachers are just small potato. I think it is the problem of mindset, we have studied the course for about 6 weeks, although Dr Wan only teach how can we handle the individual difference, I think the most important thing is the educational philosophy of the teachers. I remember that in the teaching practice period, when I first time walked into my class, I said to them ’I know you may treat yourself are not high ability students (they are inferior class of the form), but what
I care about is if you will have improvement day by day. If you can do it, I will treat all of you are winner. Also, I will try my best to teach you, let us learn together’ After I said this a few words, I found that students are happy, and within the 5 weeks teaching, they were really tried their best to learn. I can say this because I received many letters from them, and one wrote,’ Sorry Mr Tsui, I have slept in some lessons because I am tired but I still try my best to mark all your notes .’ another wrote, ’I will keep all your notes because I knew you have put much effort on it’
Under the school structure, we are junior teacher, even is CM, but is it important? For students, you are already a teacher, you are the one who teach them how to learn, the one who let them know how beautiful your subject is. If a teacher only thinks he/she is just a small potato, he will not have improvement. Each student has their strength and weakness, what a teacher needs to do is let students know that they have ability to learn and if they learn, they will have improvement.
At last, I will like to conclude by a saying, ‘if you think you can, and then you can.’
And other point I would like to mention is the idea of grouping is not just restricted in classroom, online-platform is also an important way for student to learn. Especially in formative assessment design, let student learn from other, and then improve the work is important. And the feedback could be not just given by teachers, under clear instruction, students can also provide high quality feedback. And under this idea, on-line platform is an useful tool.
Tsui Yu Kei, I totally agree with using peer feedback to enhance differentiated instructional techniques. In a short amount of time, we have to maximize student interaction with material, the teacher, and each other!
In my 15 years of teaching, I've found students more motivated to improve their work when their have quality, "just-in-time" peer feedback compared to teacher feedback. With teacher feedback, which is also valuable of course, students have reported feeling like they've been "graded" even if it's formative, but with peer feedback students have told me they feel like they have time to improve their work and they want to make improvements!
Miss Gillespie, I totally agree that peer feedback is important for the students. However, base on my teaching experience, I find that Hong Kong students are usually passive, especially for the senior one. I think the reason is they familiar with the traditional teaching method, which is teacher dominate the lesson, students need to do nothing other than listening. For those just listen will be labeled as ‘quiet and good’ students, and for those who like share with others will be labeled as ‘talk too much’. In my opinion, is teacher give enough time for the students to share their points of view? Even when teachers ask questions, they usually are closed questions.
Peer feedback is important, and teachers need to learn that peer feedback is important. A meaningful lesson does not mean teacher has a great presentation, because even teacher presents very well, it does not mean that students learn well. In my opinion, a meaningful lesson is depends on if student think they learn well. Peer feedback is a useful tool as base on your 15 years observation, you find that students are more motivated. I think I will try my best to apply your observation during my future lesson. Thanks a lot!