"the multi-age DAP-based groups I
have seen and have talked to teachers about have been disastrous. It
is only common sense that one teacher with heterogeneous large groups
of children seems a recipe for failure."
Date sent: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 21:21:49 EST
To: MarciaR304@aol.com, email@example.com
Subject: Re: different class groupings
Organization: AOL (http://www.aol.com)
I sent this article on grouping last year which gives an excellent
comprehensive source for related research.
Last year I came across the most clearly written, well documented article on
groupings, which although not directly answering your question, addresses one
part of it. But first, I should say that the multi-age DAP-based groups I
have seen and have talked to teachers about have been disastrous. ItĘs only
common sense that one teacher with heterogeneous large groups of children
seems a recipe for failure.
On the other hand, I have personal experience with multi-age groups
that have been wonderfully effective; these are not the same multiage groups
proposed by the educational establishment today. My children (5th and 7th
grade) have always been in a Montessori, because the school is far more
structured and rigorous than our public schools - and their Montessori has
been multiage out of necessity given that it is so small. The key to its
success has been 1. the small class size and 2. the use of a type of grouping
that I just recently learned is called the "Joplin Plan."
1. In this Montessori School, two teachers (not a teacher and an aide) are
responsible for 23 children in a first-third grade and a fourth-eighth grade.
The teachers say that when the number of students rises above 23, that they
can no longer provide the same type of challenging environment. None of the
multiage plans that I have seen provide for this type of ratio.
2. The Joplin Plan or Cross-Grade Grouping is another term for
Homogeneous Grouping across Grades." For the purpose of teaching reading,
teachers might abandon the distinction between grades 4,5,6, and focus instead
on each student's skill level for reading. Among these three grades of
students, skill levels can range widely --perhaps from reading level grade one
through reading level grade nine. To handle this great variation, cross-grade
grouping might form classes for nine different levels of reading skill. When
working on reading, each student joins others students who have the same skill
level that he or she has achieved regardless of the original grade level.
Students at the same reading level all work on the same material." Thus, my
daughter can work with eighth graders in math and reading even though she is
only in fifth grade.
Years ago I taught in a school with four classes of second graders and
four classes of third graders and all math and reading/language arts was
taught using the Joplin Plan. I was so impressed with the flexibility and the
way this type of program met the needs of gifted, special ed, and regular
learners, that this grouping style was going to be the framework for our
charter school - until it became clear that in Illinois the charter
legislation needed to be rewritten. A large school using Joplin can divide
the groups among smaller age levels; a smaller school would need to use a
wider range of grades to meet everyone's needs. Since our charter school would
have been small, all teachers would have taught reading and math at the same
time everyday to facilitate this arrangement.
Now back to the article I referred to. The Vol. 66, Winter 1996 Harvard
Educational Review contains an excellent article entitled, "Sustained Inquiry
in Education: Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size" This reader-
friendly, 31 page article not only details the four varieties of skill
grouping, but step-by-step describes how inadequate educational research is
when one wants to determine whether whole-class grouping or skill grouping is
more effective. I would heartily recommend that anyone seeking more knowledge
about the effectiveness of different classroom grouping patterns or more
knowledge about what to look for in evaluating educational research read this
comprehensive article. It's one of the best I've come across in a long time.
EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE