4 Tips for How to Conquer the Challenge of Mixed Groups
Mixed groups can be challenging until you learn how to conquer them! While it is possible to cobble together varied work and tie it all together with an open-ended game, think about how much more learning goes on when speech, language, and social skills are incorporated into the same session so that you are improving all of your students’ needs. Check out these 4 tips for making mixed groups manageable.
Have fun activities that your students enjoy.
It is no secret that learning takes place more effectively when students are having fun and engaged in the learning process. Favorite activities for older students include:
- Board games
- Dice games
- Spinner activities
- Role plays
Once you figure out how to incorporate each student’s goals into the activity, you start feeling a flow in your mixed group session.
Make the work look similar.
If you have worked with older kids at all, you also know that middle school age is a tough time for feelings of self-confidence. Seeing other students in the group doing different activities can lead to questions about why someone has the hard work and someone else has the easy work. The secret is to figure out a way to use the exact same materials as much as possible, but let the role of the student in the activity change.
- One student asks, the other answers.
- Student A explains the first part, student B explains the last part.
- One person does the first part the first day to model, then switches up to the more difficult task the next session.
Try this out and see if the complaining slows down in your mixed level groups.
Plan ahead for how to make the activities co-ordinate for a variety of goals.
With some creative thinking and a bit of planning, you can incorporate different goals into the fun activity you have planned for the majority of your caseload. At the beginning of the school year, it may take a bit of time to co-ordinate goals but soon can become second nature.
Sticky notes are great!
- Once you have the types of activities to make plans for, write yourself a note about which goals to elicit on the days you do those activities.
- Figure out ways to get students to interact with each other to use their skills in context.
- Think about what is the best time during that activity to address each need and take that student’s data.
- This helps you reuse the planning from one session to the next.
Do you know what is best about this for mixed groups? You can glance at it quickly to help you stay on track with your planning. This lets you pay more attention to the interactions and behaviors of the students in your mixed groups.
Collect materials with multiple levels in one goal area.
- While this is perfect for starting students at the lowest skill level and building abilities to a higher level, it also allows students at different levels in this skill to interact with each other.
- Letting one student explain something to another student, like playing teacher, can be a great way to consolidate skills for the one student while letting the other student hear the perspective that made it click for his peer.
- Having a variety of materials in one set makes your job easier, too. One student can sequence 2 pictures to play the game, another can work on sentences, while others read the passage silently while waiting and tell the answer when it is their turn.
Need more tips for conquering the challenge of mixed groups? Read this post.
Working with mixed groups is quite possible once you get the hang of it. How do you manage it?