I have a pretty high academic group this year, and I've really spent a lot of time extending and enriching skills. My "lowest" kids were below grade level, but still making good progress. (They were not drastically behind.)
I got a new student last week, and the student is extremely low. They do not have the concept of a word or a sentence, that words carry the meaning of the story, they know only about 3 letters and letter sounds, and they cannot identify any of the K sight words (let alone the 1st grade ones).
I only teach math, phonics, and writing, so another teacher has the student for reading. However, I'm finding it really hard to make a plan to help my new student in phonics and writing with my mini-lessons and activities being so much higher than their current ability level. I've just been pulling this student along with my lower kids to do the activities together, even though the student doesn't understand the concepts. Today, for example, the kids had to read a story and highlight the long i words. I read the story to my lower kids and they could pick out the long i words, but this student had no idea what was going on and would just highlight where I told them to. The student couldn't even tell me the first letter of the words they were highlighting.
I talked to my co-worker about the writing, who suggested that the student tell me a sentence, I write it, then they copy it and look for a specific letter or sight word. I thought this was a great idea, but since I haven't wanted to overwhelm the student (or spend my whole writing time writing their story), I've just done a couple sentences at a time. The student can copy and does pretty well picking out the a's and the e's (the 2 letters I've had the student look for so far...and they're in the student's name), but even when they bring it back and I ask them what letter they found, the student isn't always accurate with it. (Did I mention the letters are in the student's NAME?!) The student is also coming back every 2 minutes to show me what they found and get another couple sentences written, which is really interrupting my conferring during writer's workshop.
I try to really differentiate for all students, but with this new student being so, so far behind the others, how can I best help them to grow without ignoring the rest of the kids and just spending all my time with them?
(PS- This student was referred for special ed at the old school but didn't qualify, although I don't understand why they were referred for what they were...I would've gone with something else entirely. The student is also entering intervention at our school, which will help, but I want to do more for the student in the classroom as well.)
Sorry for the long post....thanks for the help & ideas!!