Recently I have been working a lot with flexible grouping in the classroom since I have been experimenting with Liljedahls’s thinking classroom in math. But flexible grouping does not need to stop in math, it can work in your literacy classroom as well.
I know most of us are used to ability groupings when it comes to literacy centers but recently I have been using random groupings in the literacy classroom. I wanted to take you through a quick journey of my literacy centers.
Our focus as an intermediate team this year is reading, more specifically fluency. We are happy with the comprehension of our intermediate so we are digging deeper into their actual reading fluency. For this, I decided to allow each student to select a novel. We discussed what to look for when selecting a novel and what to do if we end up deciding we dislike that novel. Students are welcome to return the book if they do not find it intriguing enough. Once they have selected a novel, we read for about 15 minutes during our literacy lesson. Then students can answer one question related to their book in their language duotangs. These questions are centered around vocabulary with a small percentage based on comprehension. Students keep a vocabulary journal to write down any words they are unsure of. They then have to define them and use them in a sentence.
While my students are doing this, I take three random grade sevens and three random grade eights. I use a random name generator. Students then read one page from their book in a circle with myself and their classmates. I use this as a fluency mark. We then discuss their books orally including questions such as:
- If you could read any of the other books in this circle other than yours, which one would you read and why?
- Were there any words heard here today that you are unsure of?
- What would you rate your book so far out of 10 and why?
This random grouping makes all students feel comfortable as they can tell it was done randomly and that they are all created randomly. They also feel confident in their abilities as they get to work with students whom they may view as a stronger reader than them. The fluency skill is still being assessed but in a way that makes all students feel equal. I enjoy getting to work with each student in my class at least once a week as I meet with all students (five days x six students per day). I think my students enjoy the personal connections they get to have during these groups as well. Also, some of my students who usually sit at their desk with their book shut are now participating in literacy at least once a week as opposed to not at all.
I encourage you all to try random groupings in your literacy classroom to increase confidence!