Monday, November 27, 2006

What I learned today in class...

Today, after help from Marina, I learned that I have a lot of work to do. I learned that I have more data that I need to collect. So far, I have one interview that will be very helpful, but that is all I have. I have decided that I will interview a couple of students and maybe a teacher in a different content area. I have also decided that I will incorporate some of my observations in the classroom into this project. Thanks for your help Marina!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ability Grouping in the Classroom

Writing my annotated bibliography influenced my research question in a lot of ways. I have found new terms that will help me to better understand the entire process of ability grouping. One of my sources introduces “flexible-grouping,” this term focuses on an achievement score and not on a “total score.” I found this source helpful because my question is targeted on students’ achievement in ability grouping. I also found information that offered additional ways to teach a class without ability grouping, by incorporating all the needs of my students.

To ability group or not to ability group? I think this is where the gap lies; there are those that oppose it and those that fully support it. I think answering my question will ultimately ease my mind about whether or not I will chose to ability group in my classroom or not. If I choose to do so, I think these sources will guide me to ability group in a proper way – paying attention to all the needs of my students.

Data Collection Plan

Hello all,

For class, we are to write an ethnography learning paper and I am targeting my research on ability grouping in the secondary setting. Ability Grouping can mean many things; however, I want to focus more specifically on the students’ academic achievement in their English classes – whether in reading groups or writing groups. I want to know how successful ability grouping can be for students both with higher abilities and lower abilities. I want to know when it is “appropriate” to divide them based on their abilities and when I should be mixing them together. If these groups are based on the students test taking skills, I want to know what each student of differing abilities has to offer to their peers or differing abilities.

I plan to use my observation notes that I have been keeping of a 9th grade English class I currently volunteer in. I also think incorporating interviews with students as well as interviews with the teacher about their thoughts on ability grouping will be beneficial to my research. In the class I am observing, they are currently reading a novel in their ability grouped groups. Looking at some of their group assignments will show me their group’s level of understanding of the novel. Then I can compare and contrast my findings. I think these artifacts will help add credibility to my research. I also think using the student’s standardized test scores might show me how different their abilities are and then I can come to my own conclusions as to how I would group them if I were the instructor.

Since I am in the classroom at least twice a week, I will be collecting data every chance I get. I am not sure when I will be able to collect the student interviews –because I don’t want to take them away from the classroom. I will plan on asking the teacher I am working with on her planning periods and see when a good time would be to take a couple of students out of class for my interview. I have already started collecting student artifacts, and I will continue to collect.

I think this entire process will be helpful in answering my questions about ability grouping. I think it is important to look at the primary sources (i.e. student interviews, artifacts, and personal opinions of the class procedures) the classroom has to offer.