In this week’s staff meeting, we shared ideas about how to group children to develop Growth Mindset and Learning Power. Our teachers came up with loads of varied ideas and we layered the ideas up with HOW each grouping would strengthen learning muscles and develop Growth Mindset.

We listened to Carol Dweck’s BBC Radio Four broadcast (well worth a listen!) and noted down key ideas that we needed to consider when grouping the children. They included the following:

– Teachers needed to keep a growth mindset and believe that ALL children can achieve

– Learning needed to be as open-ended as possible, with no “cap”

– Language around growth mindset had to work alongside these groupings – such as using “yet” and relishing the idea of challenge.

The staff had some wonderful ideas. I especially loved the titles they had come up with for their groupings, like “brain buddies” which involves children thinking about who helps them to learn in the classroom and choosing partners based on this and “Kaleidoscoping” – which was based on the children being in colour groups that mixed up to form a kaleidoscope.

Prior to this meeting, I have tried beginning learning with a question which resulted in high engagement from our Year Ones. We asked them “How many different ways could you make a number line to 10?” The range of ideas they came up with was huge, from ordering numbers, to ordering Multilink to ordering money and times on a clock. The challenge was to come up with as many ways as possible. If the children wanted to “play it safe” they could stick to just ordering the numbers to 10 for example, but they also gained the experience of seeing what the other children had done.  Time was especially challenging and provoked a discussion about o’clock and half past. The children inevitably made lots of links between areas of maths.

We have also tried children choosing the “how” of learning. This time with the Year Twos. They were learning to use number bonds to 10 to add to any 10 within 100 (e.g. 63 + ? = 70 – they know it’s 7 because 3+7=10). We talked about what we were learning and provided a range of resources for the children (number tiles, dice, counters, numicon…), The children then planned a game that would help them learn and practise this skill. We had such a fantastic range! Some children layed out number tiles, then threw a counter onto the tile and added the number to the next set of 10, others played a card game where they picked out number card to 100 and did the same. The children were highly engaged because the learning came from their own ideas and imaginations. This lesson also strengthened the children’s collaboration skills as they inevitably worked together.

We have already added a few more ideas to our groupings sheet. One includes “Grapple” which is a concept I have picked up from recent meetings with Professor Claxton. You give the children a problem that is a little too challenging, provide them with resources and ask them to collaborate to try to solve the problem. Once they have “grappled” for 5 minutes or so,you share strategies as a class then use these to practise some more. Children  love this and it really teaches them to be okay with uncertainty and challenge. It also empowers them as they realise they have loads of great strategies at their fingertips. I will be using this lots throughout the year.

All of my examples above are based around maths learning. I have come up with ideas in writing, which I will share another time. I do find maths grouping in this way comes much easier to me. I would love to hear about any ideas for English!

Our staff will use this sheet as planning tool throughout the year.


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