Using Technology for Flex Grouping

ComputerClipArtBy Ashley McFadin — At one of our last Professional Learning days, we learned about flexible grouping in which teachers create stations based on students levels of learning on a particular learning target.

Within a couple days of our PLD, I implemented flex grouping and allowed students to choose their own understanding level (you could also give a formative assessment to determine this).  But, one of the key pieces of doing flexible grouping this past week was using technology appropriately.

For example, if a student decided they were a “novice” then they watched a video describing the concept in basic terms then worked with me to create examples and worked on definitions. If a student was an “apprentice”, then they used an online simulation to explore one of the key pieces of the learning target.

If they were a “practitioner”, then they could use their computer to aid them in creating a multi-step flow chart of the learning target.  And lastly, if the student deemed themselves an expert, they had to create something and could use given online resources as starting points.

I was amazed at the effectiveness of grouping and when I interviewed students at the end of each class period, they gave overwhelmingly positive reviews of the teaching strategy.  But, as I reflected later, I realized that one of the key aspects of the stations was that I thought about the levels of learning for our learning target and found appropriate simulations and resources for the students.  They could use their laptops, but in a more structured way.

This is the point of 1-1 learning.  The teachers must teach the students to use their computers appropriately.  It is only then that the student can not only learn the content being presented but also responsible computing for our digital age.

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