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    high/low
    By TSK 5th grade teacher

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    In my teaching experience, every year I am handed a split class with some high, some low, and of course those in the middle. There are many ways to handle this, but with time constraints here are some things I do.
    If you can group the class in half for most subjects you're lucky, somtimes I have four or five different groups going at the same time. What I try to do is give the whole class a lesson, then they will have some kind of independent, or group work to do that won't require a lot of my attention. This will give you time to break off with a group who may need more explanation, accomodations to the lesson, or extra help in general. You might also have a slightly different assignment as their independent work. I try to work with every group a little after the whole class lesson. It is just as important to work with the high students as it is the low, however, often your high students will be more independent workers. When assigning the work, if needed while you work with one group, another can be reading silently, or another kind of independent work while they wait. I group kids based on test scores to start with, but as they develop into the groups there will be some shuffling. You don't necessarily have to change to teach two separate classes, but you will have to put more work into developing accomodations, and extras with the lessons.
    As an example, in reading my students do a reading response journal. We discuss our journals as a whole class, students share from their journals, and all will have homework in their journals, but my approach is different for the groups. The high kids are given a set of numerous questions and prompts to help them get started on making an entry. They are required to write a certain number (usually 3 a week) of entries as homework. Most of this is done independently, but I will go over a good response with them at least once a week. On the other hand, the low group receives much more instruction on writing an entry. I don't give them so many choices to choose from with questions and prompts. I give them a set of prompts, and we discuss different questions, how we might answer them, and even write an example out on the overhead or board for them. Also, I don't require them to write as many entries until I feel they can write at least one with success. Surprisingly to me, although the high kids write well, and make solid entries, my low kids have much more heart felt responses. The extra help and accommodations are just what they need.
    Good Luck.


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