5 days in... I'm so unhappy. Combo class, need serious help!!!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TeachyBon, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2008

    *UPDATE* 5 days in... I'm so unhappy. Combo class, need serious help!!!

    I've updated at the end of the thread..

    This is a vent in addition to a cry for help, so keep that in mind as you read my whiny tirade please! :)

    I LOVE to teach. I had a fabulous year last year. I work in a fabulous school in a district that is making huge strides towards improvement - and we worship the almighty test score. This year, it was decided that we would departmentalize the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. We ended up with a third grade class where all of the students are predicted to score well on state testing (based on grades and SRI scores), a fourth grade class with student who perform well on state exams, a 3/4 combination class with students who either are not predicted to score well or have not scored well, and the same groups for 5th and 6th.

    I am responsible for teaching the 3, 4 and 3/4 classes Math. No biggie, I love teaching Math. The straight 3 class and the straight 4 class is a dream, although I'm getting used to only having them for 90 minutes, and the switching classes is a pain. The 3/4 class has me considering changing careers after only 5 days. I'm kind of kidding there. It takes us 10-15 minutes to come into the classroom and sit down. I timed how long it took to put a heading on a sheet of paper - 23 minutes. We need 20 minutes to pack up and transition to the next class. The combo class is HUGE (in my opinion, and based on what I have experienced in past years) at 25 kids - several with IEP's, behavior plans, and most with extremely poor academics.

    YES, I should have more support. YES, I have students who need one on ones that they do not have. I am *hoping* that as far as that, things are just rough because it is the beginning of the year. YES - departmentalizing is (in my opinion) stupid at this grade level.

    I am not upset about the students lack of ability. It's my job to teach them, afterall. However, I cannot work with small groups because the students do not have the ability to work independently. A task that I predict will take 3 minutes (writing your name on your paper!) takes one student 5 and other 10.

    Tips, help, suggestions - please! I KNOW that right now, the school is not doing what they are supposed to do. That is out of my control. I need help with inside of the classroom. There has to be a way to make this work, I just can't see what it is right now. :help: :help: :help:

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2.  
  3. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,563
    Likes Received:
    4

    Aug 31, 2008

    :hugs: I am anxious to hear responses.

    As far as tasks and transitions, have you made them aware of their time for transitions? Can you have a game where you try to beat these times each day. Maybe they work towards a class goal each week. I don't know but I do feel for you. Transitions are hard for me too.
     
  4. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2008

    Yes - my timer is GLUED to my hand. "You are putting your name at the top of your paper. This should take 3 minutes (um... or 30 seconds, really :rolleyes: ). I have set my timer and it will ring in 3 minutes."

    Half the group will still be nowhere near ready.

    Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  5. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 31, 2008

    What about a timer and doing something with that. Have you looked into PAT? It's a time mangament system where they earn minutes and then spend the minutes for a fun educational game. So, let's say you give them 10 minutes to come in and sit in their seats with their books out, but they do it in 6 minutes, then that's four minutes they earned. Then, you give them 4 minutes to write their names on their paper but did it in 2 minutes, that's another 2 minutes they earned. After a while, they will do things faster and faster. But, you have to give them how long you think it should take them and then add a few minutes to that, then that way they can feel successful. So, if you think they should be able to write their name in one minute, add a few minutes on top of that.

    So, at the end of the week, or even at the end of the day, add up the minutes and use that to play a fun educational game. Google PAT and Fred Jones. He explains it on his site and has a list of games to play. I did it with my fifth graders and it worked great!
     
  6. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 31, 2008

    You must have posted this while I was typing about PAT. Let me just add that you should tell them that they can earn minutes for a fun educational activity. THis will now give them purpose. That is, of course, if you choose to do PAT. Peer pressure will kick in when those stragglers are not pulling their weight because that timer doesn't stop until everyone is ready and sitting quietly!
     
  7. runnerss

    runnerss Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    445
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 31, 2008

    I have 4 math classes and this sounds exactly like my last class of the day. I would keep some things as simple as possible. For example, the heading. I would just have them put their first name and that is it. If you need something else, like their homeroom teacher's name, just write it on the paper before you make copies. Have pencils and paper at their desk, so you don't have to worry about that. Try to have everything for them so when they come in they sit down and are ready to work. It sounds like extra work, but it I think it will be worth it.
     
  8. MrsWbee

    MrsWbee Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2008

    I was also going to suggest PAT from Fred Jones. It sounds like a classic scenario that he describes in his book "Tools for Teaching", which I highly recommend!!
     
  9. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    4

    Aug 31, 2008

    I did a combination class a couple years ago and the biggest thing I did was train them to work independently. It took about two months to get them to a point where I could teach the second graders while the third graders worked independently or I could teach the third graders while the third graders work independently. I just had them practice, pratice, practice. I would also recommend Fred Jones, Tools for Teaching because it is so focused on speeding the kids up.
     
  10. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2008

    now you know what it's like to be a 'specials' teacher with the taking 15 minutes to get in and get settled, and switching rooms, limited time etc! Do you get a feeling that the kids in this class know they are the 'lower' students, and I use that term broadly. They might also be confused about suddenly being mixed with 3rd grade and 4th grade. Since it's still early it might just take some settling in and getting used to the change. It's a change for teachers to do things differently and the kids as well. All I can say is routine routine routine. Being an art teacher I'm used to have 7 different classes a day and going from teaching K to teaching 6th lol The transition just needs to be about routine, lay down that law and organization! Any time I was a bit unorganized going into a room b/c a teacher was coming back late to relieve me to my next class it was always a scramble b/c you are like power walking through the hall up the elevator to burst into the room and get things going.
     
  11. snoangel

    snoangel Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2008

    This is a great idea! I might even try it with my 3rd graders...hopefully something like this will help the OP
     
  12. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 1, 2008

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    Several quality ideas here! I do appreciate it! Glad to see people got ideas for their own rooms too!

    THANK YOU! Hopefully I will be able to post great news of improvement next weekend! Or not.. I guess this might take a little while! :)
     
  13. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 1, 2008

    Have a warm up activity that they begin immediately. My students earn points by being the first group to come in and get to work. Even if the desks are in rows, you can designate certain rows or sections as "groups".
     
  14. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 1, 2008

    p.s. The week's warm ups are on their desks on Monday and they keep them in their binder until they turn them in on Friday. Now the responsibility is theirs!
     
  15. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2006
    Messages:
    4,858
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 1, 2008

    I know kids need to be responsible for their work and all - but any way they could use composition books to record their board work or whatever they are writing and therefore not have to write their name on it everyday? Save that 15 minutes.

    I feel badly for the situation you are in. Maybe use dry erase boards and markers, something novel that might inspire them to write faster, I don't know. Good luck, I hope people have some good advice for you!
     
  16. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 7, 2008

    Okay, this week went better. Here's what I changed.

    * Instead of asking them to take out paper and put a heading on it, I put the heading on the paper and just made a line where their name belongs. Still using the timer, of course!

    * Warm up is on the board, but is already written on the paper.

    * Notes that go along with the lesson are already written on the paper. I might ask them to trace part of it, or they may have to fill in a word here or there to keep them engaged.

    * Practice problems are already written on the paper.

    That took care of a LOT of the slow worker problem. Also, they have nothing they need to unpack when they enter the classroom, because I'm giving them the paper, I keep the math books in class, and I already had sharpened pencils ready to go (thanks for that idea!)

    As far as teaching two different lessons at once, I recorded myself teaching a lesson that went along with a worksheet I created, and let them follow along in the book. I used Audacity, which is a free computer program to do this. It actually went okay.. but I am going to sit with them while they do this tomorrow so expectations are more clear. I want to have this set up as a listening center, with follow up with me of course.

    I also taught them how to use the computer, and use First in Math, which is a self-paced math program that doesn't require them to come get me every 30 seconds for help.

    My plan now is to get a nice rotation going since we have some activities we can do alone now. I'm feeling so much better after this week. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions.
     
  17. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 7, 2008

    I love the idea of group points for first ready. I think I'm going to use that this week. I'm trying to think of an incentive-maybe this group gets to pick an end-of-the-day team building game.

    Awesome idea!!!
     
  18. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    1,785
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 7, 2008

    Maybe you could divide the room into groups, maybe five of five students and they can become teams, then they choose a name for their team. You put these names on the board and as the days progress, when they perform according to direction, they get points. After a week or two, add up the points and winning team gets some kind of treat; toy, stickers, free time, whatever you want to do. The "competition" can get them wanting to accomplish the tasks. I worked with a teacher that did this last year. The students loved it when they got a point for their team. And then groaned when a point would be taken away due to one not following directions. It doesn't take much work to keep the system running.
     
  19. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 7, 2008

    I actually have a team system with points, and I use it with my other classes, but it was so time consuming with this group I stopped this week. I'm working towards adding that back in, hopefully soon!
     
  20. TeachyBon

    TeachyBon Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 7, 2008

    Jem, my incentive is they get to be "Superstars" for the week.. they get a prize from my bucket and get to do everything first for the week. Hope that helps.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. vickilyn
Total: 286 (members: 1, guests: 261, robots: 24)
test