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Ask a Teacher: What Does Heterogeneous Mean?
I had a conversation not too long ago with an administrator at another charter school that had opened last year. She told me I'd not see daylight until December, and then only in pieces. I thought she was exagerating. No, no she wasn't. She was actually being a little nice, as it turns out, much the same as how we mothers don't tell first-time pregnant women the reality of childbirth. Because, at that point, what the heck can you do about it?
My inbox has several questions for Ask A Teacher, so I'll go ahead and hit it with one. From Christin in St. Louis:
Q: I'm not sure I'm saying this right, but I've heard the term tossed around among my teacher friends and don't want to be the odd ball out and ask. So, what does heterogeneous mean?
Christin, on behalf of teachers everywhere, I'm obligated to say there is no such thing as a stupid question. Next time your friends are speaking teacher-ese, go ahead and ask. Believe me, we love nothing more that telling folks about stuff. Remember, it's what we're actually PAID to do.
Heterogeneous grouping is a type of distribution of students. In plain ol' English, it means children are grouped together for varying reasons instead of the traditional criteria, such as age or reading level. It's used mostly in reading instruction when teachers pull small groups for instruction, but it has applications across the curriculum.
For example, in a reading classroom a teacher may have several students who are on the same reading level with whom she works on a regular basis. She will also have issues come up from several students, a particular need she doesn't need to teach the entire class but could address with a small group. This group is then pulled as well for a small group lesson.
And, to cap my teacher criteria, take a look and listen to the root words here, homo and hetero, which give a clue into their meaning. Hetero, a Greek prefix that means "different" or "other," and homo, another Greek prefix that means "being the same," or "alike." Yeah, I'm in love with words.
So there you go, Christin. Next time the word pops up, wow them with your newfound knowledge. And keep the questions coming. Things have to quiet down sooner or later.
By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting