I finally have a second to post. Let me tell you about this GOOD Monday (do those even exist?!). Woke up late and still made it to school without getting stuck behind ANY buses and I had time to get coffee. AND it’s a jeans day. Did I just blow your mind!?
no i didn’t did i (this was one of my students that took it upon herself to type on my blog…this is what I deal with!)
Since I am a little late getting started in the year, I am going to pick up where I am in the year with lesson plans and strategies and then fill in all that “beginning” stuff later when I have more time. Mornings like these don’t come often enough!
For the past week, we have been working on writing personal narratives. This is based on Gary Soto’s short story “7th Grade”. The students have been writing about their first day of 7th grade. I have been using a variety of graphic organizers to help them along their way.
One HUGE struggle that I am having is meeting the needs of my lower level classes. I feel that they should be on the same page as my upper level classes, when in reality…that’s not a reality. Here are a couple strategies I have used to match up the learning standards with my regular classes…
1) Graphic Organizers
Instead of asking them to brainstorm, I am using a specific graphic organizer to prompt their writing. They have already completed a ten-minute timed writing on this subject, so it’s activating prior knowledge and repeating work at this point.
2) Simplified Assignments
Like I said earlier, putting my lower level class on the same page at my regular classes isn’t an option 90% of the time. Instead of having them write a personal narrative on their first day of 7th grade, I am having them write about eliminating homework. It’s still school focused and covers the same Standards of Learning (SOLs), but it’s more concrete. My students in this class need concrete. Writing about their first day is hard, because honestly, a lot of them have forgotten and didn’t want to be here in the first place. Maintaining a school focused piece with a specific purpose allows me to “match” the different curriculum, so to speak.
3) Meet them where they are!
My SPED cohort sat me down after a long frustrating day and said that it was ambitious of me to want to teach the same curriculum to all my classes, but in the case of my lower level class, I wasn’t going to make much progress doing this. He explained that when you have lower level kids, in order to make progress, you need to meet them where they are and guide them forward. Expecting them to be on the last lap of the race when they are still on the first isn’t a realistic expectation. You have to meet them at the first lap to coach them to the last. It made a lot more sense when it was broken down to me like that. This means that I use simple assignments, I explain things more, and I don’t get frustrated when they don’t get it the first time. It’s about TLC and working with them to meet their specific needs as students.
Welp! That’s it for today. Time to go teach!