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Inaninclusiveclassroom,groupingstudentswithvaryinglearningstylesandabilitiescanpresentquiteachallenge.Forour latest project, my teaching partner and I drew from real world scenarios to pursue a solution. Our goal was to design a grouping process under the principles of maximizing student choice and being as authentic as possible in relation to a real workingenvironment.Understandably,toomuchstudentchoicecanhaveitsdrawbacks,asstudentsaresusceptibletonot using the best judgment when choosing peers to work with. Experience has shown that studentled grouping can tend to turn into a popularity contest if not well structured. As a result, we attempted to create an approach that enabled each student to make the most wellinformed choices possible based off of their perceived strengths, weaknesses, rapport with groupmembers,andoverallinterestlevel.Whatresultedwasanorganicformationofprojectgroupswithseeminglybetter matchedskillsetsthanwhatwecouldhavechosensolelyasteachers,anditwasselfdirected.

Providing the students the means to become wellinformed was paramount to the success of the grouping process. As we began to develop our approach, we decided on specific criteria that would be necessary for students to make informed decisions for choosing group mates, and also determined which essential skill sets would enable each group to create a quality final product. Each group would require research, writing, artistic, and technical skills. We had all of the students perform introductory activities that mirrored processes involved in making the final product, and then perform self and peer assessments of their performance. From that information, the students were able to better isolate their strengths, andalsodeterminewhattheycouldconfidentlycontributetoapotentialgroup.

To begin the grouping process, we initially had every student research a contemporary tipping point of their choosing. They then had to perform a quick pitch to the class about why their researchshouldbeselectedandpursued.Fromstudentfeedback and our own impressions, we chose the most compelling pitches and topics to begin the group formation. The students who were chosen were labeled as researchers, and it was up to them to put together a research team to continue the research and create a RSAstyle animation to present their findings. Meanwhile, the remaining students reflected on their strengths and prepared to participateinaninterviewprocesswitheachoftheresearchersin order for them to choose which team they would be most fitting. The entire duration of the interview process lasted 1 hour with 5 minute rotations. Each researcher and candidate met during these brief times to exchange information and bridge connections.Afterwards,thestudentswerepromptedtofillouta sheet that detailed the names of who they would want to work withandwhytheywouldmakeagoodfit.

From the gathered student information, grouping became a simple process of matching skill sets with student preferences/choices. Each individual was placed on a team for which they had an invested interest and was aware of their value tothegroup.