24 May 2013

Streaming For Key Competencies

As with any class of children there is a wide range of abilities. Our large open learning space is no exception. Initially the three teachers were responsible for a fairly mixed learning group in both Literacy and Numeracy. These were then grouped again into manageable guided teaching groups, mainly for ability. As in most New Zealand primary schools these small groups were rotated through times with the teacher, and the learning was targeted to their needs.

This meant that in one class there were groups of children thriving on an independent, and flexible programme, allowing them choice, challenge and ubiquity. This is one of the reasons we set up a flexible learning space in the first place. In the same class there were children who needed structure around times, consistent routines and more guidance in managing themselves, their belongings, their feelings, their interactions with others, their focus .....

Running a class programme catering for both, is what New Zealand teachers do every day. We are lucky though, we have the ability to group these learning needs while still taking advantage of the modeling and interactions being in a mixed group provides.

Regrouping all the children again this term wasn’t done lightly. Children and parents were just getting used to having different teachers for their home class, literacy group and numeracy group. The mind shift took some explaining at parent teacher interviews in February. Obviously some children adopted this more quickly and easily that others.

So to change these around after only three months ,was done tentatively. We regrouped to cater for the fact that some children thrived on flexibility, cooperative learning, choice and ubiquity, while others still needed set structures and consistent teaching to develop these learning behaviours.

Looking back this was probably the way we should have started the year. Children come in to a new class with a lot of information, not only about their academic level, but also more importantly to us, their ability to manage themselves, their learning and to relate to others. At the beginning of next year we are likely to stream around this type of ability. This allow for different types of programmes to cater for different needs.

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