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Using Effective Instructional Strategies: Grouping and Differentiated Instruction
Using Effective Instructional Strategies: Grouping and Differentiated Instruction

What This Means for Instruction

In general, the following provides a suggested structure for planning instruction that incorporates effective grouping arrangements for all learners.

  • Base the purpose of instruction on the standards and organize instruction around important concepts, principles or skills. These should be the goals for all learners.
  • Plan regular shifts between whole-class, group and individual instruction and structure groups so that students are allowed to demonstrate their strengths and pursue their own interests in a variety of ways.
  • At the start of a new unit or lesson, assess students to establish an entry point for each one. Assess students and review and adjust groups frequently to ensure appropriate placement.
  • Use whole-group instruction when introducing new concepts and skills.
  • Group students according to achievement for short-term learning activities. "Clone" activities, creating multiple versions that will be effective for different groups.
  • Use small groups for instruction and practice of higher-order or specific skills.
  • Use need-based grouping to allow students to skip practice with previously mastered skills and understanding while providing opportunity for additional practice to those students who need it (such as through peer tutoring). Provide opportunities for enrichment for all students.
  • Enlist help from other teachers, aides and parents to work with small groups in order to meet the needs of all learners.
  • Incorporate learning activities that use heterogeneous cooperative learning groups as well as building in goals, rewards and accountability for both the group and individuals.
  • Ensure that learning groups exhibit gender, cultural, ability-disability and socioeconomic balance.

Ohio Model Curricula Connection

See the Differentiated Instruction Strategies presented in the lessons in the Teaching and Assessing section.

"[S]chools and districts moving toward heterogeneous grouping have little basis for expecting that abolishing ability grouping will in itself significantly accelerate student achievement unless they also undertake changes in curriculum or instruction...."

--in "Ability grouping in the middle grades: Achievement effects and alternatives," Robert E. Slavin, 1993, p. 549

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