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Home : 2001 : Nov : 7

    highs and lows
    By Carolyn

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    I had this situation last year for all subject areas. I have it in math this year. This year, I have kids who can't seem to do math, no matter how many ways I try to reach them.

    What I do is teach to grade level. Everything I teach has to be taught to grade level so that kids can be exposed to everything for the state test. I do provide a variety of trade books for kids to use in self-selected reading, so I feel that I am helping to meet the needs of the kids in reading. I may sit down with a child and listen to him/her read during that period of time, help clarify questions which the child may have about the book, etc.

    We are fortunate enough to have a reading program which allows us to choose many graded reading materials. I can choose a variety of class sets of books. Often I have several sets circulating. When the children are finished reading the books independently, they may take a computer test on them. I create tests for books which we don't have computer tests for. I hold them responsible for the independent learning at their level. When they take a computer test, I explain to them that this will go toward their report card grade. The children also work on projects on their own on books which they have read. I had a student who chose to write a whole movie based upon a book which he had read. It came complete with illustrations.

    I have a whole class guided reading block where we all read the same novel and learn the same skills. We read parts of the novel aloud, so that the lower students can follow along. I give everybody a chance to read silently, too. I believe their comprehension is helped when you read parts of the book aloud before you give them the task of reading silently.

    As I said above, I have kids who can't quite seem to get the hang of math. I teach the entire class, then give a skills test on the skill. If the children score 80% or higher, they don't have to fix their test unless they want to (or I have time to work with them). However, if they score below 80%, I will pull them aside during self-selected reading and have them fix their mistakes. If the entire class does miserably on a test, as my class did on a 3-digit multiplication test, then I retest the entire class.

    I don't know what grade level you have, but there are file folder activities books out there that you can buy to help you set up centers. They are relatively easy to make. They only need to be colored and laminated. If you're anything like me and hate to do artistic stuff, then these prepackaged file folder activities books may be for you. Look for them at your teacher supply store.

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