Hoyt Middle School
Students at many different learning levels with different learning needs in the same classroom. This issue leads to several issues in the classroom including engagement, attitude toward the material, a student's confidence in their ability to learn the material, and behavior issues.
Reflection & Findings:
As I look back at the implementation of my plan so far this year in my classroom, I ask myself several questions, "Am I on track to meeting the goals I would like to? What isn't working? What is?" And, "Where do I go from here?"
I'll start with the first question. "Am I on track to meeting the goal of growth for every student?" Short answer, based on recent MAP data and ALEKS data, students are growing. However, I have some students who are not growing, in fact, some students have gone backwards. Meaning, they have lost progress. Why? To answer that, I need to look deeper into each student's report as well as conference with each student regarding progress and possible goal scores for ALEKS progress and the spring MAP test.
Second, what isn't working? One struggle I have had this year so far is getting the students to understand that they need to finish work as we are working on the topic. Currently, I make assignments and assign a due date of the end of the semester. During the first semester, I had several students with incomplete or work that hadn't even been started near the end of the semester. This caused mass panic at the end of the semester for my students. I could solve this problem by assigning an end date to assignments other than the end of the semester however, that presents another set of problems when it comes to students who need or want to redo an assignment. Also, in the spirit of Standards Referenced Grading, students have multiple chances to show proficiency on a topic. So, do I continue to make new assignments; or, do I allow students to redo the same assignment knowing that ALEKS changes the problems slightly with every retake? Another struggle I have encountered is getting some of my students to take responsibility for their own learning. I still have a handful of students in each class who rely heavily on me for learning and assistance. I continue to work on this to build confidence in all students.
Third, what is working? I've noticed that students who are willing to struggle are making larger gains in learning than students who frequently rely on me for information. Also, students are learning more from each other. Because a lot of our time is spent practicing the work, I am frequently bouncing around the room helping students. I have seen students begin to help each other more and discuss problems with each other before they raise their hand and ask me for assistance. Another thing I think is working well is the ALEKS Challenge. Every Wednesday, students get to chose their own math topics to work on. As I make my way around the room helping students on Wednesdays, I see students working on several different math topics. I like that students can work on skills they may be missing as well as gain exposure to something that may be forthcoming in the curriculum.
Finally, where do I go from here? The implementation and (mostly) success of ALEKS in my classroom has made me think about what else I could do to continue to personalize the learning and growth of my students. This thinking has led me back to some technology I used a few years ago in my classroom and stopped using for some unknown reason. It's also led me to think about creating a self-paced unit for my students. My curriculum partner and I worked together on this and will be beginning introducing it to the students very shortly. It is my hope that this helps students at all levels in my classroom as they won't feel held back or rushed by the teach to the middle technique that has to happen with whole group instruction. I'm interested to see how they grow using this approach.