Math Rehab!

A Fun Remedial Approach in Math

This week a fellow colleague/teacher shared with me how he remediates in math. He uses some interesting terms to ensure that students get the big idea behind the math concept.

So, for instance let's say the concept is integers and the 4 operations. There's an exit ticket which is essentially a quick test with the basic questions about the concept. If the student misses the boat, in other words, they can't add/subtract/multiply and divide with positive and negative numbers. They are put into math rehab.

Math rehab provides them with some extra time to learn the concept. Math rehab will occur with additional homework or a few missed recesses. Sure makes the kids pay attention as they want their exit ticket.

Not a great year? Kids getting away on you?

A Great Read for New Teachers

With summer holidays just around the corner, maybe it's time to reflect on this year and start acting and learning from those reflections. Teaching is much harder that it seems. Some teachers just get it and others really have to work at it. One of my colleagues asked what my secret was. I'm not sure I have a secret, I do know that I have high expectations for both learning and behavior. If I say it, I mean it and I don't say it mean. The other piece of advice I often give is to read a good book on classroom management. Harry Wong's is a favorite of mine, why not give it a whirl this summer?

See also, functional behavior assessments and behavior contracts for additional support.

Here are another few staples of mine:

  • Show respect, when you give respect, you will get respect -- most of the time.
  • Encourage the student, boost their confidence, show you care and provide them with the attention they so need for acting appropriately.
  • DON'T in power struggles, DON'T show anger. DON'T retaliate.
    Understand that inappropriate behaviors are a cry for attention.

Stop With the Recounts!

Getting Students Beyond Recounts

Surely by now, you've discovered that kids can write re-counts, even if they can't write anything else!

So why bother with those daily journals?

Where's the learning?

Aren't you a little tired reading:

I went to the mall with my mom. Then I bought a new video game. I played my new video game with my friend Jack. Jack liked it. I liked it too. I hope when I go to the mall again, I can get another new video games. I like playing video games.
The End.

So what do you do? 

You balance your writing program.

Provide opportunities for opinion writing, persuasive writing, procedural writing, and expository writing to name a few. (You'll find everything you need at each of these links to complete your writing program for you 2nd to 4th grade students.

If your jurisdiction doesn't support the timing of when to write the various recounts, set up a calendar of writing genres yourself.  Make sure you select persuasive around Christmas time as it's great to 'persuade Santa as to why he should bring....' 

Another strategy to 'get them writing' is to ask higher level thinking questions and give them a free write. How about, 'If I could make the world a better place' or ' Why uniforms should or shouldn't be allowed to be worn at school' or 'Why every student should have a laptop'.

Have anymore ideas? Post them and share with our fellow educators.

Differentiated Instruction and Assessment

Why I Like Literature Circles for Differentiation

The typical classroom seems to have a spread in grade level ability that varies somewhere between 2 to 6 grades. For instance, in your grade 8 class, the math ability will be anywhere from grade 4 ability to grade 10 ability. And you, as a teacher, must teach to them all and ensure that each of them reaches their potential! How, you ask? Well, like me, you're probably told to differentiate your instruction. You can search anywhere online and see that differentiated instruction is well defined. However, to get started, you need group work, get your class working in groups. When you're working with a specific group, you'll need to figure out what the rest of the class is doing. One of the things that works really well for differentiated instruction is 'Literature Circles'. Check out the worksheets and give it an honest try.

Literature circles is something that can start in the 4th grade and will work well through to high school.

Be sure to check out the Teacher Tube video on how to use literature circles in your classroom.

Reading Recovery - I'm not convinced!

Reading Recovery - Too Expensive for Short Term Gains

I likely should call this my reading recovery program rant. Be warned, this is my opinion and I by no means am trying to offend anyone who is supportive of this program.

Reading Recovery is a reading intervention program (an expensive one too) that few educational, if any, jurisdictions can afford. So, why use Reading Recovery? It gets good results in a 1 to 1 setting. Then again, most teachers would get great success and enhance performance in that setting as well. However, it's not real. Educational jurisdictions need to look at intervention programs that work well in groups, not in a 1 to 1 setting. Oh, and I doubt you'll find any research out there that shows that Reading Recovery helps to improve standardized test scores beyond the primary years. Not much bang for the buck now is it?

Most boards are now dropping the program and all I can say, is that it's about time! So, let's move forward at teach students how to read in evidenced based ways. Phonics will always have its place, word walls/word cards are essential, an effective word study program is essential! But of course, these suggestions are just part of what is needed for a well balanced literacy program.

Share your thoughts, especially your point of views on Reading Recovery.

Teach Reading With Literature Circles

A Simplified Version of Literature Circles

If you're ready to differentiate your teaching and assessment then you'll want to teach with literature circles. Each child has a role and your groups of students rotate through the roles for the week. Be sure to read the overview first. Once you understand the roles, you're ready to start your class with literature circles. Suitable for the 3rd to 7th grades.

If you haven't tried literature circles in your classroom, the resources here make it completely easy for you to implement. Remember, unless you're having students do group based activities, you're not really meeting the individual needs. Group work is the start of differentiating instruction.