A few months ago a few teachers from our school went to another school in our city that uses flexible math groups school wide. The basic idea is that students are grouped by ability, rather than by grade level. They do it so that they have flexible groups 4 times a week and then students have math with their homeroom teacher once a week where they can work on other concepts or do math projects or whatever else.
We decided as a grade 5 team to try this out on a smaller scale for a month to get an idea of what it would be like and also we felt it would be a great way to help review some number concepts that we want to make sure our students understand really well.
Earlier in the year we did a one-on-one key skills test with our students all based around number concepts so we used that key skills test to group our students into three groups, red, yellow and green, for each concept. The first week we focused on numbers to 1 000 000 and estimation strategies, the second week we did multiplication and mental math strategies, this coming week we’re focusing on division and then the last week we’ll do decimals and fractions. For the most part, students are in different groups each week and as teachers we rotate groups as well so that our students get to experience different teachers. Now, it did happen with a few students that they just happen to be with one teacher a few times, in fact, I have one student from my math class that just happened to be in my group all four weeks, so I moved her into another group for the last two weeks so that she can have some other teachers.
So far it seems to be going well. I had the yellow group the first week and to me it felt like it took some time to get into my groove but by the end it went well. Last week I had the green group and we did a project that ended up taking some of all three math classes but was totally worth it because they got a lot of multiplication practice and had fun doing it. This week I have the red group and I’m still trying to think of a good project like last week’s so that we can have fun practicing division.
In June we’re doing the same key skills quiz again with our students and that will help us see if this experiment has been a success or not, but it feels pretty successful already. I just hope that I’ll get to stay at this school for next year so that I can be part of the whole school flexible groups because I think it’s going to be amazing.
Unfortunately, with all the cuts to teaching positions and lead positions and funding and everything else that’s keeping me awake at night, my job prospects for next year are uncertain. Only 5 weeks to go though and I want to try to enjoy them regardless of what comes next.