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Do some grouping strategies foster bullying?

By June 3, 2014June 10th, 20163 Comments

Ginger Lewman, an education consultant in Kansas, has some great insight about how grouping strategies affect student dynamics, including bullying. Ginger asks the question, “How are we ensuring that each kid is learning all we expect her to?” She recently blogged about this over at ESSDACK, an education service agency based in Hutchinson, KS. Her perspective ties in with research and analysis we’ve done on cooperative learning and the need to be very intentional in putting those groups together.

Read her blog titled, Your Favorite Grouping Strategy Creates Bullieshere.

– Posted by Howard Pitler

Pitler_200x200A former elementary and middle school principal, Dr. Howard Pitler is McREL’s chief program officer. He is co-author of the second editions of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.) and Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.), and was the lead developer of McREL’s Power Walkthrough® classroom observation software. He can be followed on Twitter at @hpitler.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • Rachel says:

    Interesting idea because in my teacher training, we were encouraged to group students in multi-level ability groups – as a way to avoid “tracking.” But it is very easy to see now how that really hurts both the higher student and the lower student leaving the middle student out. By grouping students by their abilities, I could see how a student who is generally not consider a leader, could become a leader. Something to think about.

  • I think it is important to, at a minimum, be cognizant of the possibility presented in the post, while at the same time, fostering collaboration and cooperation.

  • Michelle says:

    Grouping strategies differ for each classroom. I have found for instance that I have to really pay attention to certain students and who I pair them with regardless of ability level. Multi level groups are great, but can be disastrous. We have all had the student group where we knew that not everyone participated in the group. I think there is no right way to group students. It is nice to see when students are grouped together and someone has to step up and take charge. Students start to develop leadership skills they never would have by being in a group with natural leaders. One of the biggest challenges for me with grouping is my higher students not wanting to be held back by students who are not on the same level. They often ask if they can do the work by themselves instead. I have had to work hard to create roles so that everyone feels involved in a group situation.

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