Friday, April 29, 2005

Ability Grouping--Does it work? Stay Tuned...

Interesting article about a school in Britain switching from grouping by age, i.e. ten-year-olds belong in fourth grade, to grouping by ability. My only concern is the following "Mrs Heron is encouraging older pupils to become "mentors" to their younger counterparts." Mentoring is all well and good, as long as the older kids don't end up doing the teaching instead of the learning. I've seen that occur in multi-ability groupings here in the States. The older kids are more engaged, but they're still not learning anything. Since their idea is multi-age kids of the same ability, hopefully that won't happen.

On a side note: Wolfie has been accepted into the Super Challenge Math and Accelerated Science programs next year in middle school. He'll do sixth- and seventh-grade math, move on to algebra in seventh-grade and geometry in eighth, earning high school credit. In science, he'll essentially be skipped ahead a year: straight into seventh-grade general science in sixth grade, eighth grade science in seventh and then bussed to the high school for Biology in eighth grade. Yay!

He's been having trouble in school in the last month or so, keeping himself organized, etc. He's been sick a lot and I think he's a little depressed. They're doing a big toothpick bridge-building project in school and he was assigned to a group of kids who don't know him, speaking of multi-ability grouping. Wolfie's group elected him to be the supply gopher rather than the bridge architect. Talk about a waste of potential.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe that because he's bright, he should automatically be the architect. But he's been practicing and testing bridge ideas at home all winter, and could hardly wait for this project to begin. And to his credit, he's not complaining. He's doing as much on the project as the other kids will let him, which apparently isn't much. I can tell he's disappointed.

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