So let me preface this by saying, it's going to be kind of a PSA. This is one of my pet peeves and I'm kind of annoyed right now.
I was at a training today because my district has decided, once again, to change our reading program. Now we're going to get everyone reading by 3rd Grade...because apparently we weren't trying hard enough before, but I digress. It's a mix of a bunch of different programs including Daily 5 and the traditional reading model. My problem with it is they want the students grouped in heterogeneous groups with students from each level represented when they go through their stations-word work, reading with a partner, etc.
I am wholeheartedly against this. Not only does it make it much more difficult to pull homogeneous reading groups for guided reading, but the whole reasoning behind it is that there has to be a high student in each group in order to teach the rest of the students the skills. *sigh* I could literally feel my blood pressure going up as I was sitting there listening to this.
I'm not saying don't ever use heterogeneous groups-not by any means. I certainly think they have their place. I actually use them quite often when kids work on projects together or are doing a science experiment. But when you are asking kids to do workstation work, they should be working with peers at their level. The purpose is not for kids to be teaching each other! The purpose is for each student to get practice at the skills they need to practice. The argument I often hear is "well, you learn by teaching". I actually don't think that is true. My student in 1st Grade who was reading 140 words per minute, is not going to learn how to read better by helping another student with high frequency words. They need to work on other skills-like comprehension and fluency.
I work for a very, very large district district. Hundreds of teachers are going to be using these methods. And I know there are probably lots who already do it that way. But I just wanted to give you some food for thought-that maybe there's a way every child can still be challenged and still be practicing the skills they need help with.
PSA Over! Thanks for listening! :)