Monday, December 04, 2006

My One Pager

Brittany Bergin
ECC301D- Professor Cindy O’Donnell-Allen
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Research Questions
How successful is ability grouping for our student’s academic achievement? Are there ways around ability grouping in a classroom full of diverse learners?

Introduction
As I sit and listen to the teacher talk to her class of enthusiastic 9th graders about a novel they will be reading for the following 8 weeks, frustration begins to overwhelm my thoughts because of what she is telling her students. The routine seems harmless at first, but I notice that as she begins to call the students names out loud she labels them out loud too. She names the students that are in the Pre-AP level first, and says that they can read in the pit (a place with a high reputation to the entire class). She then begins to call students names that are on her list; I asked to see her list after class and it is in order – from the higher reading levels to the lower reading levels. I was astonished. I began to take note on the student reactions after they were assigned to their groups and I noticed that the enthusiasm I noted before had somewhat diminished.

This experience led me to my overall question

Primary Sources

  • Karl Fisch’s blog, “The Fischbowl”This blog introduced me to my topic and later influenced my questions
  • Personal interview with Carron Silva, a 9th grade English teacher at Cache La Poudre Junior High school
  • Observation notes on Carron Silva’s 9th grade class
  • 9th grade CSAP and reading levels scores for the state of Colorado and CLP junior high in 2006

Major Themes
School Influence, Student’s Background, and Heterogeneous Grouping vs. Homogeneous Grouping are the three most significant themes I found in my inquiry.

Future Questions
Learning how to teach to every student’s unique abilities becomes an enduring task. Thinking about this and its possibilities, more questions begin to rise: how do you encourage students of diverse abilities to engage in learning collaboratively? Do students improve their own work by incorporating the work of their peers’? How does this theory play out in writing groups? How does it play out in reading groups?

Secondary Sources
Article by Michael Opitz, “Empowering the Reader in Every Child”
Article by Maureen Hallinan, “The Effects of Ability Grouping in Secondary Schools”
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