If you’re like me, you remember times in school growing up when it wasn’t hard to identify which group was the “smart kids.”

Teachers might not have classified them as such, but all the students knew which group was the accelerated group — which left some of us feeling not-so-smart.

Yet even beyond the obvious social and emotional drawbacks of establishing separate “tracks” for different groups of students, the fact is that such a system doesn’t even reflect students’ true abilities. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, areas where they shine especially bright and areas where they need more help.

In keeping with this reality, we use an approach called flexible grouping in the Lower School at Morgan Park Academy.

Flex grouping is an essential component in the differentiated classroom. Done both informally and formally, flex grouping allows teachers to change up groups based on various activities or learning units. This differentiation allows teachers to better target the learning needs of all students.

Successfully grouping students so that learning is enhanced does not happen automatically. Teachers differentiate content, process, and product according to students’ readiness, interest, and learning styles through a range of instructional and management strategies. Social and emotional factors can be as important to group composition as academic mastery.

Benefits of flexible grouping include:

  • Each child receives the appropriate challenge, support, and preparation for present and future success.
  • Teachers can zero in on specific needs and provide appropriate challenge for each student’s current needs
  • Grouping is fluid and students may move between the groups to receive tailored instruction for a particular topic or concept.

By Annie Melville

Ms. Melville is our Lower School principal.