Meet Juan Carlos, a sixth-grade student. His social studies teacher uses different grouping formats and employs flexible grouping to meet the needs of her diverse learners. The scenarios below offer a glimpse at how the teacher uses flexible grouping across a week; it does not provide a complete account of each daily lesson. Notice how Juan Carlos changes groups throughout the week. This example illustrates how a student can work with a variety of classmates throughout the day or week or across a unit of study.
Flexible Grouping Example
At the beginning of class, the teacher introduces a social studies lesson using whole-group instruction.
Using the results of a pre-assessment about the unit’s content, the teacher divides her class of twenty-seven students into five small groups, each consisting of four to six students. She groups the students according to their preexisting knowledge about the content. Because Juan Carlos has a firm grasp of the requisite knowledge, his group will be allowed to delve deeper into the content, while other groups work on tasks that will prepare them for the unit.
Toward the end of class, the teacher has the students work in pairs. This time she pairs students heterogeneously so that one student who has a firm grasp of the content is working with a student who is struggling with it.
The teacher would like for the students to begin working on a project. She allows students to work in groups based on their interests. Juan Carlos chooses to work with two other students who are interested in the same topic.