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Differentiated Groupings In Reception.


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Hi!

Although I have spent a number of years working in mixed age classes as a TA, this is the first time since qualifying as a teacher that I have had a reception class at the beginning of the school year and I am wondering how soon do others begin to group children by ability? During teaching practice I worked in a nursery and differentiation was achieved by level of support and outcome and at present this is how I am working in my new reception class. I feel I am still building up a picture of my new children and that it would be very early days to make judgements as to ability but what do others recommend? I do have four year 1 pupils in the reception class but these are very needy and still working towards the ELG's.

 

Helen

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Hi there,

I'm in a Reception class and currently differentiating my topic lessons by support and obviously outcome however I started my maths lessons last week and so I had grouped chn roughly into 5 ability groups. These groups are very fluid and a number of chn are this week going to be in a different group than they were last week. I don't think it's a problem as chn were not informed last week that they are in red group or whatever - when we wanted a group to an activity we simply called all the chn's names. When I am sure of the groupings I will let chn know which group they are in. I am aware that it is particularly early to group the chn however this year I am under pressure by DH to work a little more formally and I usually have at least two different maths activities for the differing abilities so I had to group the chn as best I could.

After half term we are grouping our class of R and class of mixed R/Yr 1 into abilitiy groups for phonics (this is really being pushed as the way forward in our LA) and having 5 members of staff doing a group at the same time. I am overseeing this as my performance management target and have had a range of advisors coming in to see me - each one said that the groupings will be very fluid as they all progress at different rates. I would say that if you are finding having mixed ability groups difficult to cater to a variety of chn's levels at the same time and you feel the need to differentiate your activities then have a go at grouping the chn as you see fit (you could base them on the stepping stone profile results if you wish) and adapting the groups as necessary.

Edited by Guest
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If you do group them by ability could I please beg you to carefully consider the 'names' you give the groups? My daughter was in a class (reception) where the 'top' group was called the 'Golden Go-Karts' followed by the 'Silver Rockets' all the way down to the (wait for it.....) 'Brown Bears.' It broke my heart.

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I usually group mine for organisation purposes although some ability considerations will come into this to enable me to more easily differentiate by support. I usually do this quite early on and my groups are always flexible and never set in stone.

 

What you are doing sounds fine, if it is working for you dont feel pressurised to change.

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Thanks everyone!

 

I have grouped the children for organisational purposes only and the children are aware of the group names, these being vehicle names and all of equal importance I would hope..!

On my planning I am showing differentiation as by level of support and outcome and all children are participating in the adult led focussed activities as their groups on a rotational basis. Sounds as though this is OK and I will therefore carry on planning this way for now with the intention of perhaps introducing ability groupings in the Spring term.

 

Helen

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We use mixed groups and ability groups depending on the activity. Targetted groups are planned for some literacy and numeracy work although the children aren't specifically aware that they are in any group - the staff member running the focus activity simply gathers all the children of a similar ability (highlighted on plnning/assessment sheet) when organising a group.

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I agree with what others have said... I think there's a time and a place for both 'ability groups' and grouping for 'organisational purposes'. Though I think the most important thing is that the groups must always be fluid. Children's needs and targets change on an almost weekly basis.

 

As for when I group my children... that changes every year also... last year I had a really REALLY bright group of girls during 'literacy based' sessions... and so they prompted me to group slightly earlier, thus differentiating for them appropriately... other years this hasn't been the case, and I've just grouped for organisational/social purposes.

 

Hope that makes sense.

 

Porl

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Bungalow ... hate to say, but your experience of brown bears doesn't strike me as the worst. When doing my PGCE a friend of mine was in a school where the children were in animal groups ... can't remember what all the groups were, but the lower ability group were The donkeys :o

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yeah I was teaching in a two-form entry Reception dept. once, and the teacher in the parallel class had her bottom numeracy group as the 'squares'...

 

... albeit, it wasn't deliberate and she changed it when I suggested that it may be seen as applying something...

 

~ Porl

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