There are various ways in which the classroom environment can be managed effectively. When considering how a classroom should be organised and managed it is important to consider both the practical implications for the classroom teacher as well as how it will affect pupils’ learning. I wish to focus on the ongoing debate around ability grouping within the classroom.
I often find it difficult to explain things without some form of visual aid whether it be simple hand gestures or by using pictures or diagrams. As a parent of two young children, I am no stranger to computer games, so in this instance I am going to be using The Sims 4 to give an example of how a classroom could be organised. (Video My Classroom Design )
I have created 4 groups within the classroom that are in an L shape. By creating a centre area and ensuring all the pupils are facing inwards, each child can see every other child in the room. This encourages collaborative learning not just within groups, but within the whole class. Webb (2009) supports the idea that children have a positive learning experience when discussing new concepts as various ideas are discussed, acknowledged and linked so that pupils gain a wider understanding (Webb, 2009, P5). The class teacher has this open space for giving instructions and lessons. Drawing on my experience within the classroom, it ensures children are included and are not tempted to hide behind each other. Behaviour management becomes much easier as the teacher has a clear view of what everyone is doing and can engage pupils much more easily.
Moyles (1992) discusses the practical benefits of arranging pupils into groups according to ability. Children may all be learning the same topic but at different levels, requiring the teacher to repeat the required level of support which can be time consuming. Ability grouping not only allows teachers to teach pupils as a group, making better use of time, the pupils can work together and discuss and share ideas. By giving the teacher more time, they can explain points in more detail and tailor to different styles of learning (Moyles, 1992, P94).
From my own personal observations during professional practice, ability groups were beneficial to both the children and the class teacher only during specific subjects. As Moyles (1992) suggests, the class teacher I observed was able to tailor to individual needs much more efficiently during comprehension exercises when reading groups were arranged according to ability. The class I have designed has a reading corner for group reading. There may be individuals who need one to one support with reading and there will always be different levels of ability within the classroom.
The classroom I have designed benefits from a layout that supports grouping by ability and mixed ability collaborative learning. There are positives to both sides of the argument and it all really depends on the size and range of abilities within the class and the style of teaching preferred by the teacher.
Webb, N.M. (2009). The teacher’s role in promoting collaborative dialogue in the classroom. British Journal of Educational Psychology, Issue 79, PP. 1- 28.
Moyles, J.R. (1992) Organizing for learning in the primary classroom :a balanced approach to classroom management. Buckingham : Open University Press