Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope everyone’s week is off to a killer start. I taught a lesson today with adjective clauses with my 7th graders today and it went well. I hope their homework reflects how well they did on their classwork.
Besides teaching my students to be sentence gurus, I have been struggling with the idea of reaching the students who are essentially “bored” in my classroom. It’s the students that need to be challenged more, but you just can’t seem to find time to reach them because you are too busy trying to help the students who are barely treading water in your classes. Recently I met with a student who truly feels they aren’t being challenged enough in my class. I am not one to get defensive, nor should any other teacher. In my eleven years of teaching, I have learned a little something about the profession and myself as an educator. Regardless, I proceeded to sit down and discuss with the student what they could do to make themselves better. First, we looked at doing an independent study of sorts where the student could look at the Common Core Standards and we could decide together what would be a challenging way for them to meet the criteria in the standard that we discussed. Next, we looked at doing additional problems when it came to completing an assignment. For example, if an assignment is about identifying adjective clauses, the student could do an enrichment worksheet instead of a normal practice worksheet. Furthermore, I discussed with the student doing projects that involved using technology like creating a digital story about a book they read or creating another glog, or perhaps using a website such as scoopit.com.
Now, as a staff we have discussed a few different strategies to address the other students who are not being challenged. We discussed an inquiry based research project where they could choose any topic in their advisory class in the morning and conduct research and then report back the findings by producing a poster, paper, or some other piece. The piece could even be technology based. In addition, the inquiry based project, we were looking at doing a Science Olympiad type approach where we give the students topics and they can choose to construct or express themselves in a way that reflected the topic. The students could even do it in small group settings. So, as we have tossed around these ideas, we are quickly approaching the end of our second marking period and the only extension we have offered is to the one student. I give credit to this middle schooler for stepping up to the plate and asking to be challenged. However, there are more students out there who are just afraid to ask.
I am going to take the bull by the horns and I am going to not only provide my middle school boy’s a writing club, but I am going to set aside another day to do it for the young ladies too. I am also going to take a student survey and find out what the students want to help guide me in a direction on where to go.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking my colleagues, because they are great, but I think we spend way to much time thinking about how we can help the students who are failing, then the students who need to excel. Just look at some or legislation that has been passed. Does “No Child Left Behind” sound familiar? How about “Higher Achievement for all Children”? This doesn’t mean every child will go to College. Higher achievement is going to be different for every child. Just some things for my readers and anyone else to chew one.