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A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning

Form, Manage, Assess, and Differentiate in Groups


Grouping learners purposefully throughout the school day based on their needs and the curriculum remains the single best way to differentiate instruction. This award-winning guide will help teachers expertly use flexible grouping and differentiation strategies to respond to students’ diverse learning needs, abilities, and interests. Included are methods for creating groups based on assessment data, planning group lessons and tiered assignments, engaging learners at all levels, supporting personalized learning, grading collaborative work, and communicating with parents about the benefits of group work and productive struggle. Digital content contains all forms from the book and a PDF presentation.


Paperback $42.99 82835 Paperback 82835 $42.99

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ISBN: 978-1-63198-283-5
Audience: Teachers and administrators, grades K–12
Trim Size: 8.5" x 11"
Page Count: 200
Digital Content: Includes all of the book’s customizable and printable forms and a PDF presentation for professional development.
Praise for A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning

“This guide helps dispel the myths surrounding ability grouping while providing effective teaching practices and real-life classroom scenarios for various grouping models.”—Learning magazine

“A great resource that could transform the classrooms in your school. Recommended.”—School Library Connection

“Highly valuable.”—MiddleWeb 

“A thoroughly user-friendly guide that will help classroom teachers expertly use flexible grouping and differentiation strategies to respond to their students’ diverse learning needs, abilities, and interests. Unreservedly recommended!”—Midwest Book Review

“The authors provide the most comprehensive guide to group learning that I have seen in my quarter century of teaching and researching grouping and talent development. The introductory sections reviewing relevant research and responding to common (and misguided) criticisms and myths of grouping are excellent and easily digestible, and the countless strategies and tips will prove useful for anyone working with K–12 students or supervising educators who do. This book should be required reading in all of our teacher preparation programs!”—Jonathan Plucker, Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and School of Education
“One of the most challenging aspects of teaching in today’s diverse classroom is the differentiated practice of effectively using flexible grouping and collaborative learning. Teaching and learning experts Brulles and Brown have aptly addressed these practices in this remarkably well-articulated text. Everything you need to know, understand, and be able to do are spelled out in a comprehensive manner. This step-by-step text gives you all the tools, directions, and methods for making flexible grouping and collaboration work in your classroom. This ‘go-to’ resource should be on every teacher’s desk; studied, highlighted, tabbed, and applied!”—Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century
“An excellent read that both demystifies and clarifies what exactly is grouping and how it can be used as an effective method for instruction and assessment in the modern mixed-ability classroom. Dina Brulles and Karen Brown explain the benefits of teaching and learning through grouping in a clear and comprehensive manner. More importantly, they provide concrete and creative examples of best practices and instructional methods educators can use to address and respond to the diverse yet individual academic and socioemotional needs of all students. If your goal is to develop and deliver deeper, student-centered learning experiences that prompt deeper thinking and promote talent development, then this is the book you need to read!”—Erik M. Francis, M.Ed., M.S., professional education specialist at Maverik Education LLC and author of Now That’s a Good Question!
A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning provides the compelling why flexible grouping is essential for achieving equity in today’s diverse classrooms, as well as detailed classroom scenarios and relatable real-world examples demonstrating how flexible grouping has been successfully implemented in elementary and secondary classrooms to support the unique needs of each student. The specific teaching and learning strategies and usable tools included provide what teachers and students need to accomplish truly personalized learning within today’s classrooms.”—Dr. Lauri B. Kirsch, supervisor, K–12 gifted programs, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa, FL

“We know from research that collaboration can enhance learning; however, group work can be ‘messy’ at times. All too often, teachers avoid putting their students into groups because they think it wastes time or is just too difficult to manage. Brulles and Brown have written a book for teachers who are looking for more flexibility in how to form and manage groups for different purposes. They provide a plethora of learning activities and questioning strategies that are classroom tested and easily implemented to meet the needs of a range of learners—from ways to vary to the complexity of tasks to how to design engaging group projects. This book offers new ideas to novice and veteran teachers alike.”—Karin Hess, Ed.D., researcher and author of A Local Assessment Toolkit to Promote Deeper Learning: Transforming Research Into Practice
  • 2019 NAGC Book of the Year
  • 2019 Legacy Book Award for Educators Winner
Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning: Moving from Obstacles Toward Solutions

“Flexible grouping? Not for me, it’s too chaotic!”

Does this sound familiar? However, when classroom structures are put in place both in the classroom learning environment and the grouping of students, the stage is set for success for all learners!

Flexible grouping isn’t a single step; it’s a process. What happens before the group is established, the strategies used within the group, and determining when and how the grouping should be evaluated are all part of the process. With so much at stake for learners, taking the chaos out of flexible grouping is a must.

What do teachers need to know to flexibly group their students successfully? How can you approach flexible grouping with confidence? And how do you know that it’s working effectively and efficiently?

Continue reading on the Free Spirit Blog.
Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning: Making It Work
A Free Webinar with Dina Brulles, Ph.D., and Karen L. Brown, M.Ed.

Join Free Spirit’s edWeb community, Social-Emotional Learning, Positive Behavior, and Student Achievement, to take a short quiz based on the webinar below and earn a free CE credit.

Related Resources

Inspiring Student Empowerment: Moving Beyond Student Engagement, Refining Differentiation
Differentiation for Gifted Learners Revised 2019
Start Seeing and Serving Underserved Gifted Students
Cluster Grouping Handbook 2019
Teaching Gifted Kids 2018
A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning PLC/Book Study Guide
Advancing Differentiation Revised and Updated Edition
A comprehensive guide to visual learning strategies with easy-to-use activities.
Power of Self-Advocacy for Gifted Learners
Making Differentiation A Habit Updated Edition

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