Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Flexible Grouping

This is not a new idea.  It is, however, new to my classroom.  I have gotten so sick of getting kids into groups and then hearing the questions, "Who's in my group?" "Where is my group meeting?" or "What group number am I?" about 25 times in two minutes.  Enough is enough! 

I reclaimed some wall space from other things this year so I could put up pocket charts for flexible grouping in my classroom.  I want to be much more deliberate with my grouping this year.  I am hoping to get at least one or two STEM PBL experiences in for my kids and I know I will need to engineer those groups so the students can be successful. 

This isn't much to see yet because the class lists are far from finalized, so I haven't made name tags.  I got the pocket charts from the target dollar bin and the magnetic hooks are 88 cents for four in Walmart's back to school section.  Total cost is under $9 including a pack of index cards.  Each color will be for one of my block classes.  I haven't decided if I'm going to hang one up for my intervention period or not.  We'll see.

I am trying to decide what information I want (if any) on the back of the cards.  I could use state test data, but that doesn't tell me the whole picture.  What sorts of things do you look at as you group students early in the year?   Leave me a comment and let me know what works for you. 

EDIT 9/26/12: After one month of school, I can say this system is truly working well for my classes.  In addition to helping students find their groups more easily, it's eliminated the poor attitudes some students choose to display when presented with an assigned group.  

I also appreciate that I can look back at the end of the day and review which students were grouped together for a particular activity.  

I've also added labels for group jobs.  The jobs are things like timekeeper, materials manager, sharing supervisor, etc.  I'll just place the cards above the chart and say that the first person in the group is timekeeper, the second is materials manager, etc. 

I just found more of these pocket charts at Goodwill for 10 cents so I got the purple ones to replace the red which didn't go with my color code (first period gets everything pink/purple, fifth gets all green, seventh gets all blue, and intervention gets red). 

Miss B


  1. Hi Kathryn,

    Looking for some clarification on how the charts are used. I noticed each chart is numbered 1 to 14. Are there 14 groups or do you have 14 students in every class? Could you explain how the groupings are made and the charts used? Thanks

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your comment! In these pictures, you don't see the students' name cards. At the time I took the picture, I didn't have class lists finalized plus I want to respect my students' privacy so I don't post their names here. I used 3x5 cards cut in half so they were 3x2.5" and this size worked well.

      I used groups that ranged in size from pairs up to possibly 5 students, though 2 and 3 were the most common group sizes. The numbers down the side stay there and I'd place cards to the right of the numbers. So, in a class of 24 students if I made trios, I'd use groups 1-8, placing three names next to each number, and the other numbers wouldn't have names.

      Sometimes I made groups at random (just shuffle out the name cards and pop them in the chart) but most times I tried to at least balance out high/low and gender. Later in the year, I started using more Kagan strategies and I really like his grouping method. In it, you designate your kids high, high middle, low middle, and low and make groups that include one of each. The H, HM, LM, and L markers are only comparing them within your class, so you should have equal amounts of each.

      I hope that explains it! If you need further explanation, don't hesitate to ask!