By Ms. Wills and Ms. Ortiz, 2nd Grade Teachers at Alpha: Cornerstone Academy
November 1, 2018
Culture Building: Getting to know the scholars through aggressive monitoring
Beginning the year on the right foot is important to every classroom. Paying particular attention to each student’s reading ability is also a high priority. As we launched Reading Power Hour (RPH), students rotated between varying, self guided activities. After a couple of weeks, we began to notice that some scholars were struggling with activities, while others were easily completing them and looking for more. We knew that we had to change the way we approached RPH and in order to do this, we had to focus on differentiation.
This led us to look at our approach for mathematics as well. We observed misconceptions that students had and began to establish trends. We saw that students needed to build foundational skills and spend more time independent practice. In order to do this, we needed to shift our approach from a “whole group” lesson into guided math practice.
Differentiation: Shifting Instruction to meet the needs of all scholars
As we set out to meet scholars where they were performing, we used several different sets of data (DRA, Lexia, and CCSS) to inform how we set our groups and the activities that scholars would complete. Having students respond in various ways gave voice to students whether through writing or orally retelling story elements. Math groups has allowed for us to really dig into teaching opportunities in smaller groups. This allows the scholars room to make mistakes and to discover their misconceptions, as well as address these misconceptions in the safety of a smaller group.
Student Interest: Building capacity through scholar’s personal interests
As we began building each scholar’s reading skills, we noticed that students were beginning to gravitate towards subjects and topics that were of interest to them. We interviewed many of our scholars and began ordering books that fit their interests. We then implemented online reading programs where scholars would have multiple book choices to fit the interest of all of our readers.
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