High Kids Left Behind?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by YoungTeacherGuy, May 26, 2019.

  1. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    May 26, 2019

    We are a low performing school, but we’re making huge strides. We are no longer the lowest scoring school in the county. We’re providing pull-out RtI services in both Reading and Math. In addition, we have over 300 students enrolled in our after school extended learning programs that are geared toward catching students up.

    At a recent School Site Council Meeting, a parent asked, “What are you doing for my son—who happens to be one of the high performing students?”

    She brought up a great point and really made me stop and reflect on our instructional program.

    Changes are needed for next year.

    What do y’all do for your high performing elementary kids when so much attention is placed on getting the low ones on grade level?
     
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  3. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Devotee

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    May 26, 2019

    At our school, 4 days a week, we have WIN time (What I Need). All students across grade levels are grouped into smaller groups based on their abilities and work for 45 minutes with their WIN teacher. This year, the focus was on ELA.
    For example, the Kinder WIN time is in the mornings right before their lunch. All students from the 4 kinder classrooms come out and meet in the foyer. The 4 highest groups are assigned to the kinder teachers. The rest of the groups are assigned to the tutors and interventionists (9 groups total). High groups work on reading and writing, while the low groups work on letter sounds and blending.
    Each grade has their own assigned WIN time so the tutors & interventionists work with all grade levels. And groups are changed every couple months depending on the students progress and what they're learning during the year (for example, in the beginning of the year, the lowest K group was working on writing lines or tracing their names, while the highest group was working on blending sounds).
    That way, the "high" kids don't get bored or fall behind while the lower kids are trying to get caught up.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I have to say this @YoungTeacherGuy because it needs to be said and I mean this sincerely: The fact that your low-performing school is making huge strides is probably almost entirely because you are at the helm. I feel that way very strongly and I think your school is lucky to have you. Keep up the good work.
     
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  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I think elementary students should be given the chance to be placed in higher grade levels for certain blocks like I was. If they are high-achieving and flourish, then they should be given that opportunity.

    As the Dean for Academic Affairs and the acting STEM director at my school, I plan to take a more active role in having students placed accordingly by their state tests and academic performance histories. I’ve already developed tiered tracks for our math and science departments and plan to implement them going forward after I discuss with my fellow admin how I would like them instituted. I am very keen about doing this and I plan to increase the level of rigor and courses that my school offers. After all, we already offer Calc 3 (I teach it currently), so why not Linear Algebra and Differential Equations? Why not C++ programming? Why not Advanced Calculus? Why not Organic Chemistry or Physical Chemistry, for that matter, but I digress. I think you get the idea.

    Another thing that has always irked me: Why do we stop at AP Chemistry? It should go Honors Chemistry, AP Chem, Organic Chemistry I and II or Physical Chemistry I and II.

    I think students at all grade levels should be given enrichment opportunities that correspond to their respective ability levels. At my school, our 8th graders can take Robotics, Technical Drawing, Architecture, Coding, App Design, you name it. They can handle it and it’s time other schools do the same. You would be surprised just how “advanced” material students can take when given the opportunity, even in elementary.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 26, 2019

    Differentiation?
     
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  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 26, 2019

    Mind you, my school kindergarten and 1st grade and that's has high as it goes.

    Our district has classified and leveled as much as it has been able to, with identified skills in math and reading. Our RtI and small groups are based around these.

    Kids that have passed every single one? Well, their small group was the advanced skill group (based on whatever...) and I think they had that played out well. One group actually took the place of the whole-group phonics and reading lessons at one point.

    To wax more philosophically, in public education where, protest as we will, we really are aiming to teach as many students at as balanced a level as possible. While I definitely think the higher kids deserve focus as the lower performing, I think there's a point where families ought to be taking things into their own hands.

    Public education is a public service and one I support, but as someone who also champions school choice I would say public education isn't a have-to for everyone.

    I hear plenty of stories of parents of student with learning disabilities finding a life changing private school. I hear the same for parents of gifted kids.

    So, while I think absolutely public schools should be working to help all students high or low, parents also have to be involved--even if that means finding different schooling solutions that are best for them.

    So, to parents who say "What are you doing for my high/low child?" public schools should say "The best we can." And parents should decide if that's good enough, or if they wish the public school the best of luck and move on.
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 26, 2019

    I agree, but I also would like to point out those classes are not uncommon in jr. high, at least in my neck of the woods.

    Small, tangential pet peeve: I swear, every time I hear a specialty school tout the best thing about their school, it's something fairly common in the public school world.

    No offense meant.
     
  9. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    May 26, 2019

    Congrats YTG!
    Boaler always talks about high ceiling, low floor questions. Differentiation applies. When I was in an elementary classroom, I made every effort to provide higher level requirements in activities. (For example, if I assigned a project, I would give higher level options, for those students who needed it, in addition to the rest of the project or exchanging a portion of the project for the higher level option.) I hope that makes sense. In the end, it is always up to the teacher to do more to provide opportunities. I think Genius Hour could work if you were looking for opportunities built into your program.
     
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  10. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    May 26, 2019

    My school has similar demographics and is generally considered “low performing” but we’re also Title 1 and serve a really hard population of students. We’re starting WIN time this year. Every grade level K-5 will have a WIN math block and a WIN literacy block built into their daily schedules. Each block is 30 minutes. Every grade level has 4 teachers, so during WIN, students will rotate around to a teacher to meet their needs. There will be a low group, medium group, high group, and very high group. The lowest group will have a reading intervention teacher helping and doing small groups, and the highest group will be mostly PBL and the gifted/talented teacher will support that teacher.

    It definitely took a lot of work to add it to the master schedule, but I think it will be worth it to say that we really are targeting all student levels.
     
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  11. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    May 26, 2019

    My school did a great job meeting needs of low and high performers when we were allowed to have tracked classes. However, once we were only allowed to have heterogeneous grouping and having to differentiate for so many varying levels within each class, we no longer are able to provide for the needs of all. And our test scores have dropped. Dramatically.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 26, 2019

    We do an intervention block similar to what Child Whisperer described. The absolute highest kids, like maybe 6-8 kids per grade level, are with the librarian for that time working on advanced skills. The kids who are on grade level are in a larger group with a classroom teacher during that time working on higher level skills. The below level students are in smaller groups working on specific phonics skills. Red students are progress monitored weekly, yellow biweekly, and green and blue monthly. We meet as a data team every 6 weeks to rearrange groups/pick the focus of each group and look at data.

    We also have some students who attend a different grade level for certain subjects- this would be just a couple of kids who are truly very advanced. Kids who are identified gifted have Advanced Learning Plans that they set and they work on independent study projects during some of the time in their classrooms. This past year, we got a grant to run before/after school programs and clubs. Some were focused on intervention while others were focused on skills for higher level students, like coding or robotics.
     
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  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Oh, none taken! I wasn’t touting the best my school has to offer. I’m merely stating the grade level at which said courses become available. For example, for one family that I’m currently tutoring, their school is absolutely resistant to juniors taking 2 AP classes because it’s “too stressful” for them. I’m like, seriously? Students at my school take 4-5 per year, on average, starting as sophomores.
     
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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    May 26, 2019

    :yeahthat:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
  15. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    May 26, 2019

    Why not just award them doctorates?
     
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  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I took Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry as an undergrad and they were not difficult at all. Honors Chem and AP Chemistry were meh in high school — moderate difficulty at best in some parts of AP Chem.

    We have General Physics, AP Physics 1 and 2, and AP Physics C, so why not 3-4 years of Chemistry, too?
     
  17. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Ours are pulled a small amount of time. The GT co-teaches some. But, I'm watching this strand because I see the same thing in our scores. We're currently told to not teach ahead, but instead go deeper and do more problem solving. I debate about that. I am not sure what I think of it. I get it.....but then also find the students excited by advanced concepts and just can't help but teach them some.
     
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  18. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I am also sure that your groupings allowed for movement between groups when necessary such as the low reader who all of a sudden has it click and can read levels higher in a short amount of time.
     
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  19. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'm making sure that all of what I do ensures that all levels are hit. I think it's perfectly possible to ensure all levels are hit in a classroom, but it just takes constant reflection and learning on the teacher's part to do so:

    Mathematically: I work to try to either ensure that tasks I give are very low-floor, high-ceiling activities (Jo Boaler / Youcubed has a ton of those), so that all students are engaging with the topic, but it allows many students to dive incredibly deep into it. Also, I provide a variety of enrichment opportunities, from extension math menus I created for each report card strand (pushes kids deeper with grade-level content...problem solving that even I had trouble solving my first time! :)), to even just pushing them deeper with a particular concept -- i.e. taking what they know about the area formula for a rectangle, and then seeing if they can figure out the area formula for other shapes using that information.

    Writing: Easy to differentiate here, and I challenge them to use their favorite books to help them a lot, too. I'm either having higher-level conversations with those higher kids - i.e. how to write a more creative introduction/conclusion, or advanced sentence structure - or looking at skills they'd likely learn down the line (i.e. how to, in an opinion piece, ensure that the other side is addressed but brought back to your position)

    Reading: The beauty of driving a culture of wild readers is that that in itself auto-differentiates. If I'm helping them build their reading identity in a strong fashion, then they're all developing, no matter what level they're at. But beyond that, I can look at more Greek/Latin roots with those kids who may have other skills down well, or have more conversations when conferring that relate to author purpose or whatnot. Connecting it to writing, as well.
     
  20. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Yes, of course. We had students moving to higher classes when warranted. On occasion, students who truly needed it, would move to a lower level class. The "lower" level class was still taught grade level curriculum. But with extra support and reinforcement as needed. The kids in these classes really soared. And the higher level classes were easily able to do a lot of extensions.
    Now, teachers are running on a never ending treadmill, preparing 3 or 4 different mini lessons for each class. That's in addition to the the introductory whole group lesson, as well as planning for independent activities for students to work on while we meet with the other groups. It is extremely stressful and just doesn't work. Their independent work is terrible. They simply don't get enough direct instruction or modeling to be successful on their own. The quality of their work has gone way down. They need more teacher guidance.
     
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  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Stargirl, I'm with you on this. I think people confuse the old tracking of the past where the low kids never advanced and often had teachers that didn't believe they could improve.
     
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