I think one of the ways to achieve the topics we are discussing about is to do some group works. Teachers can group both the high-achieving and low-achieving students together in order to make them learn mutually. High-achieving students may enjoy the sense of success in the lessons through teaching the low-achieving students while low-achieving students may learn from the high achievers. Here is a case of a school practicing this kind of teaching methods. The teacher helps the students to group that there are both the high-achieving and low-achieving students. She aims at letting students to learn from each other. Moreover, she remarked some parts to take care of students with special educational needs, for example when spelling the vocabulary, she will repeat for several times. As regards the high achieving students, she allowed them platform to perform their creativity and communication abilities.
(the website is a report written in Chinese)
I agree with the recommendations of the group works."The teacher helps the students to group that there are both the high-achieving and low-achieving students."
Therefore, I would like to add some suggession.
For the grouping, teachers should look carefully at students grouped cooperation.
That is should be no unpleasant in each group.
In each grouping lesson, that should be a combination of different classmates.
So lets students try to work with students of different abilities. To increase students communication and cooperation opportunities.
High-achieving students can learned to teach low-achieving students who have different styles of learning.
Low-achieving students can also try to learn from the high-achieving students who have different explaination style.
In addition, the grouping in reality. The students often does not focus in discussion, they even evolution to chat. If the grouping need to completed assignments, the work may only be done by the best students in the group. Other students only in the "watch", that can not see the effectiveness of the grouping.
We can take advantage of the incentive (for example, give small prizes after game.) and "Peer Pressure" (If you want to win, all of the team member need to know the certain knowledge). Leads high-achieving student willing to teach low-achieving students and low-achieving students are willing to ask high-achieving students in this process. The students were given an essential role, to make high-achieving students also have to rely to some extent the low-achieving students, in order to avoid the low-achieving students become a burden to the team for a long time. Given the efforts of each group member to affirmed.
Thanks for your idea,Lily. Regarding your suggestion, I agree that the combination of the groups should not always be the same, but I don't think the groups should be different on "each" time. I think they may not have enough time to get familiar with each other and observe others abilities and merits. I think they should stay in the same group for at least 2 - 3 times so as to learn more form each others, after that the teacher assign another combination of groups.
Also, more time to stay in the same group allows the high-achieving students to know more about the weakness of the low-achieving so they can take better care of them.
I have some more suggestions to add. I think the teacher can assign each students a number in each group. Each time if the teacher wants to ask students to present the solution of the group works, he may roll a dice to see which students should answer the question. Once the students stand up and answer, he/she is not allowed to further ask the groupmates the details. This can make every students be concentrate during the group work. When students want to make sure every groupmates understand the solution of the tasks so as to get the prizes, those high-achieving students would probably have a higher intention to help the low-achieving students while the low-achieving students would be more active to participate .
Asking the able students to teach less-able students as a strategy of differentiation is a long-time myth.
A lot of research (particularly in USA, not yet Hong Kong) find that mixed / heterogeneous grouping is effective only in short term. Bright students can teach others to reinforce their learning and their social skills may be enhanced while the less-able kids may benefit from peer teaching.
However, it is not advisable to do it in long run because:
1. there is no enrichment for the able students and they will find the curriculum boring. they may gradually reduce their interest in the subject content. Their giftedness or potential are not well developed.
2. the able students may not be an effective communicator. They may look down upon the less able ones
3. the bright students may also lead the group and less able students may rely too heavily on them and they may not put an effort in group work. They will always under the spot like in the group and presentation.
What is the alternative??
I think your suggestion is a good one due to the following reasons. Firstly, this kind of grouping can help low-achieving students understand the contents more clearly. Low-achieving students always feel hard to learn not only because of the difficulty of the content, but also the unclear explanation of the teachers. The "unclear explanation of the teachers" I have mentioned doesn't mean that the teachers explain the content wrongly or vaguely. Sometimes a teacher may think her explanation is clear enough, but it may be clear just to her own point of view. However, to students, especially the low-achieving students, they may not understand well. I think it is because the levels between teachers and students are far different so that both of them may not have the same thinking. Let me talk about a case I have experienced. When I had math lessons in secondary 3, my math teacher was a talent in math and he could solve many difficult questions quickly. He told us he always finds difficulty in teaching because he don’t know why students don’t understand the questions , thus he don’t know what the most understandable explanations should be. In fact, it is a good way to group the high-achieving students and the low-achieving students together because even the high-achieving students are cleverer, the level between them are usually not too broad. It is easier for them to get into the thinking of each others, thus the explanations of the high-achieving students may be more understandable to the low-achieving students, comparing to the explanations of the teachers (in some cases).
Besides, high-achieving students can share their learning experience to the low-achieving students through this kind of grouping. In many cases students cannot learn well not because the content is too difficult to them, but because they used wrong approach to study the content. At the same time, high-achieving students usually find some effective ways to study well. If they are grouped together, the low-achieving students will be able to learn the ways of the high-achieving students in studying, solving questions or even thinking.
Apart from the above reasons favoring the low-achieving students, I agree with Dominic that this kind of grouping can help the high-achieving students not feeling bored at the same time. It is very boring if students only listen to the teachers. Interaction between students is of crucial importance when teachers want to motivate students to learn. Grouping the low-achieving students and the high-achieving students together can give students an opportunity of interaction. Through sharing and doing group works, students will feel more interested. Also, when the high-achieving students try to teach the low-achieving students, they would have a sense of success. This kind of sense would motivate them to have further learning.
Regarding your suggested method, I want to suggest some details about this method. Firstly, teachers should group the students according to their ability ( 4 – 5 students a group, with 1-2 high-achieving students in each group). Secondly, teachers should assign some roles to the students, with a high-achieving student being the leader of the group, other roles may be jotting notes, presenting the points of the discussions to the class, etc. This would give students a greater sense of involvement. As the leader of the group, the high-achieving student should take care of the learning difficulty of the low-achieving students. He can also help collect groupmates’ questions and then give the questions to the teacher. The teacher should sum up the questions of the whole class and find out the common difficulty the low-achieving students are facing.
Thanks Raymond for elaborating my ideas. I agree with the reasons you pointed out. However, I have some reservations about your last comment about the high achieving students should take up the responsibilities of being a leader. I think we should not treat them as more advantaged. I will think everyone is unique and even if high-achieving students have their disadvantages. So,low-achieving students can also be a leader of a group. Through trying, they can be successful leaders. None of us can do something at his first few trials. Isn't it?
On the other hand, I agree with Raymond that high-achieving students can somehow help monitoring and taking care of other students. But their posts may be an assistant or a student to present the ideas.
I think your concern is right. Maybe some high-achieving students are only good at solving the tasks but not leading others while some low-achieving students may not be good at academic but have a good leadership. Then how about when the grouping start in the first time, the leader is chosen randomly. Then the next several times during grouping, the leader is elected by the group members ?
I agree with Raymond and Dominic that we sdould let the high-achieving students or low-achieving students to be the leader. I think the groupmates' opinion to the leader is very important. So i think each time the group members can give opinions to the leader at the end of the lesson,so no matter the high-achieving students or low-achieving students can learn from each other.
I think it is of paramount importance to do some pre-assessment so that we can know how the lessons should be set.
Moreover, we can know the abilities of each student and we can group them according to the pre-assessment result. This kind of pre-assessment can also identify students weakness by doing some statistics. Teachers can ask students individually if they can follow the lessons of the topics they are weak at.
Yeah, pre-assessment is really necessary. I think the pre-assessment should include two part. First, the teacher should design a quiz include basic level questions and advanced questions so that it can differentiate students ability. Second, teachers should have an individual/ group interview with the students to know more about their learning experience as well as learning difficulties. The interview may not be face to face, but can be more interesting such as using online chatting platform so that students would feel more eased to express themselves.
Moreover, apart from having a pre-assessment. I think teachers should evaluate the learning outcome of students regularly. Let say having similar assessment procedures twice a term in order to follow students learning condition. What do you think?
I agree that grouping is one of the effective way. However, I do think streaming is the better way. Teachers should group students according with their ablilty and divide students into high-achieving or low-achieving group. Here are the reasons why streaming can help high-achieving students would not feel bored and low-achieving students would not feel hard to learn:
Firstly, it is much easlier for teacher to set up the topic of discussion, teacher can adjust the difficulty of the topic based on the ablility of students.
Secondly,for the high-achieving students, as the ablilties are similar within the group, they can discuss the topic much deeply and all-rounded. Not only can high-achieving students come up against the challenged topic, but also can they feel interested under the rapid and intense of progress.
Thanks for your idea, Kayan. However, I am afraid that those low-achieving students would think they are discriminated under this kind of streaming. But I still think your idea behind should be adopted. I think maybe each group should include both high and low-achieving students, and the tasks given to the group include both basic level and advanced level ( just similar to what you have said) . The minimum requirement for the students is to finish the basic level questions. Prizes would be given if they can finish it. Then if students want to get a greater prize, they can further try to finish the advanced level questions for bonus mark. It is supposed that the advanced level question would be more difficult for the low-achieving students, but suppose the high-achieving students would help finish the advanced questions.Under this condition, the high-achieving students would feel interested and satisfied because they can have some challenging questions to do. On the other hand, the low-achieving students can learn from the high- achieving students when they are leaded by the high-achieving students to finish the advanced questions.
Thanks for your idea,Kayan.But i don't agree that we should divide students into high-achieving or low-achieving group. Firstly, the low-achieving students may think that they are discriminated and they cmay not willing to try their best in the lesson. On the other hand , i think grouping high-achieving and low-achieving group,the high-achieving students can take care of the low-achieving students and treat as a challenged tasks,and the low-achieving students could learn from the high-achieving students.
If the concern is about "the low-achieving students may think that they are discriminated", then maybe we could think of ways which students would not know that they are the "low ability group"? For example, I went to a primary school and teachers used the four different colors, i.e. yellow, blue, green and red, to call their groups instead.
Also, I think whether grouping them into same level of ability, or different levels depend on the task nature.
Moreover, for the low-achieving students, teacher can prepare readings and learning materials for them to help them fininsh the task. Under the proper progress, they can understand the topic much easier and able to share their views to each other, it is conceivable that low-achieving students would learn in a easeful way.
It is a good idea to give students more references. However, as I have mentioned above, it would easily lead to a sense of discrimination or categorization to students if we directly stream them into different group and only give extra materials for the low-achieving groups. I think teachers should give extra materials or references to every groups but teachers should state that the materials are just for reference and students can choose whether use to it or not.
Refer to Yan's saying, she thinks that streaming is a better way. I have some reservations about this. Although I think it would be easier to practice the streaming and target on two types of students respectively,I think we will categorize them as the "low achieving students" and "high achieving students". Learning in a classroom is a whole and each contributes some to the class. I think it is not proper to practice it in classroom because it will negatively influence the students' esteem.
However, I think there is no flawless solution to solve the problem. We can take this solution into consideration.
I have some questions about the classroom setting that our guest speaker introduce. He said that it is useful to set up an advanced corner, because the high-achieving students are willing to go to the corner and read more advanced book about related subject. However, I don't think such corner is work except the teachers do something to motivate the student go there. And then, the teachers must concern more about the other student think. Because some students may think that the students who go to the advanced corner want to show off themselves. It will demotivate the high-achieving students
I don't agree with what Dominic said. I think streaming is a better way to take care of the needs of each of the students. By giving them supplementary notes, they can know more background information before class. In this way, students can gain confidence in the classroom.
Dominic, I know about your concern, we may have some adjustment. Teachers can divide students into high-achieving and low-achieving groups. After the first discussion, two to three students can swift to other groups. This method not only can take the advantage of streaming, but also can high-achieving and low-achieving students have some interaction together. This may the solution of helping high-achieving students would not feel bored and low-achieving students would not feel hard to learn.
According to yours supplements, you said that "After the first discussion, two to three students can swift to other groups" I think that will be labels a high-achieving and low-achieving students. When students swift to othergroups, high-achieving students may be despise the low-achieving students. Because the teacher was grouping them become low-achieving students group and high-achieving student group. Therefore, the high-achieving students may be unwilling to listen to the views of low-achieving students. Thus makes low-achieving students feel self-abased. Therefore, I think this approach is not feasible and they will easy to dispute.
I agree with what Lily have mentioned. I think teachers should avoid students being labeled because once the low-achieving students are labeled, it would be very discouraging to them. The high-achieving students may at the same time be arrogant and they may have a lower intention to further improve themselves.
I have another suggestion. Without streaming, we can give whole class worksheets which consist of 2 parts. The first part of the worksheet is an easy one. The second part is more challenging. When students finish the first part, we can give them a sticker. So, the low-achieving students can gain confidence.Also, when students finish the second part, we can give them an extra sticker. So, the high-achieving students can be motivated to do more and learn more.
Vincent's idea is very good!Besides the 2part worksheets, we could let the students to write a few questions before next leeson and discuss with their group in the next leeson. So each time,the students can solve different kinds of question and know more about the other student's concern.
Replying the problem of grouping of high achieving and low achieiving students together, i have got a quite interesting one. We can practice a game for the students that they need to compete with each other. They are given a question. Each group needs to assign a student to answer the question in front of the blackboard. I think this game can build their team work and coorperating skills. High acheiving students can feel excitement and low acheiving students can involve in class whatever they get the correct answer or not.
I agree that the suggessions"we can give whole class worksheets which consist of 2 parts.". For primary school students, we can rely on beautiful label to attract students to complete the worksheet. But for the high school students, I suggest that when they accumulated to a certain number of labels, we can provide some gift to students of different value. Different abilities students also have the opportunity to get the motivation, it will be able to attract students into the classroom. Avoid them become out of tasks.
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-
Student Centred Learning; where the students take an active role in discovering and inquiring. This allows for students to self-differientate.
Also Peer tutoring- allows higher achieving student to consolidate and better understand, while the lower achieving students are supported.
Cooperative Learning models- are a great place to explore. Take are set out by the teacher and groups can be differentiated or homogenous; students are responsible for guiding each other through the learning process.
High achieving students must be given tasks/projects, that allow them to explore and expand on what they know and take their own learning to the next level.
As a teacher you need to be flexible and allow for difference in your classroom. Allow for self expression and self-paced learning.
I agree that all students should allowed for self expression .when the teacher allow students to share their ideas , the high achieving students can add more advance knowlege which can lead them to involve in class and also build up their confidence.the low achieving students can have a chance to ask question or ask the teacher explain more which can help those students to learn without feeling difficult.Teacher allow students to speak is essential for teaching different students.
Also ,teacher can invite the low achieving students to learn the basic concept before the lesson, may be recess or lunch time.if the low achieving students know some of the knowledge before the lesson, they will find it more easy to learn ,it reduce the different between students.
Some may say peer tutoring is not a good idea because some high achieving students may not want to teach the other students and still find the lesson boring .but in my experience ,most of the high achieving students are helpful and peer tutoring is a good method ,the advantages have mentioned by Maureen Codispodi ,so I won't go detail. I think the teacher should only choose the helpful high acheiving students to be tutor, and let the "not very helpful"students be out of the peer tutoring plan.if the teacher can difference the helpful and unhelpful students,peer tutoring will always be a good method.