How do I prevent my students from thinking they're not smart?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ebc, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. ebc

    ebc Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2013

    In my school the students are grouped by ability for math and can move up or down according to what they need. It seems to work well, but I do have a concern.

    Some of my students I can tell early on are ready to move up to another class, so I take them for a few minutes in the morning and teach them some concepts so they'll be ready for the next level, but the other students notice and I don't want them to think they are "dumb" because I'm not moving them up. Some will ask why they don't get to learn the same things.

    I try to tell them they are going to learn the same things, just later. It's just such a tricky thing. It would not be helpful to move them to a higher level when they aren't ready (and I've gotten pretty good at recognizing when they are ready to move on), but I also don't want them to get stuck in the mentality that they just must not be good at math.

    I remember in elementary school they would split us into ability groups, and everyone knew what the "dumb" and "smart" groups were, though the teachers obviously never told us explicitly.

    How do I address this? I want to still move the students up, and no matter how discreet I try to be, the other kids know that they are in a lower level. I'm worried that stigma will keep them from reaching their full potential. Because really, I think they are as capable, but it will just take longer to get there.

    Any ideas?

    Forgot to mention, these are 1st graders, if that helps. I didn't think they would notice things like this young, but they do.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 24, 2013

    They need positive talk...I'm meeting with you because I believe in you, I know you can do this, you are working so hard, keep going...these kids have the idea in their heads already that they are struggling...build on success...use sports analogies of practice and coaching.:thumb:
     
  4. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 24, 2013

    I also make a big deal about how we all have things that we do better than others. I point out the different strengths of the "lowbies" and encourage them to keep working. My lowest sweetie last year was also my hardest worker! She couldn't read, but she could do word problems in math, because she (1) followed the steps and (2) listened to the problem when it was read aloud!
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 25, 2013

    I am not surprised. I always thought I was really smart until I was not placed in the high group in reading in 1st grade. It took years before I got my confidence back in that subject. 1st graders notice, and I think it is great you want to do something about it.

    I would consider doing 3 things.

    1. There should be some reading activities that ability grouping is not needed. Throw some of the students who are low in with some of the high students for those days.

    2. Allow all students to do some easier 2nd grade material once in awhile. Possibly get a book that says 2nd grade right on it or borrow them from the 2nd grade teacher. Really praise your students--especially some of your lower readers for being able to work so hard and to do so well on 2nd grade work. These lessons you might want to teach whole group.

    3. A lot of praise for effort and improvement in your class can help the students to focus on what they can control.

    Thank you so much for looking out for those students who "feel dumb" because they are in a lower group. I wish I would have had you for a first grade teacher. :)
     
  6. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 25, 2013

    One thing I've done is bring the class out to the blacktop. I take them to one end of the blacktop and tell them I need two volunteers. The jocks in my class see blacktop and, suspecting we're going to race, immediately shoot up their hands. I choose one of them for sure. :)

    I also choose a student who is a bit more studious, a "bookworm" type (like I was!)

    I then tell them the following:

    "Our goal today is to get the other end of the blacktop. Please listen carefully. That's our goal. It isn't to get there fast, or to get there faster than others. We're just going to get there and that will be our accomplishment. Mike (bookworm) I'm going to have you run to the other end. Sam (jock) I'm going to have you walk backwards." (usually followed by Sam looking in bewilderment and groaning). You both my start at this point here. You may begin when you're ready."

    They both head off...and naturally Mike makes it there first...but we continue to wait until Sam makes it there. They come back and join us.

    I then ask the entire class: "Remind me...what was the goal?"
    Student: "To get to the other side."
    Me: "Did Mike reach his goal?"
    Class: "Yes!"
    Me: "Did Sam reach his goal?"
    Class: "Yes!" (Sam's laughing by now).
    Me: "Right. You see, the goal was reached. Sure one reached it faster, but that wasn't the important part. The important part was that it was reached. This is what school is like. Your goal is to get through fourth grade and be ready for fifth grade. Don't compare yourself to others, because that's pointless. Just reach the goal. Work hard when you can, take a break when you need it. Get help when it becomes too hard."

    And that usually helps...because as the year goes on, if I suspect students teasing others, I'll either do another blacktop trip... or remind them what the ultimate goal is.

    Not sure if this would work with 1st grade, but it may be worth a try. :)
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jul 25, 2013

    Awesome analogy! With my grade 1s I do the 'shoe lesson' from the Daily 5 book - making a 'good fit'. My highheels might fit but they wouldn't be helpful in the gym. A student's gym shoes work for them, but they wouldn't fit me. We all need to work on things that are a 'good fit'.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jul 25, 2013

    They need to see themselves succeeding. Builds their confidence.
     
  9. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Jul 25, 2013

    ted....i LOVE this. i am going to try it with my 7th graders! unfortunately we have to group by ability every single day.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 25, 2013

    Love it, Ted!
     
  11. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jul 25, 2013

    To take the sting out of being in a pullout class I make my classroom an enjoyable place to be. It's a place where we learn, get to know each other better, laugh with each other. And I do like to take them outside sometimes.
     
  12. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 25, 2013

    That's beautiful, Ted!
     
  13. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 25, 2013

    Thank you all for the kind words! :)
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 26, 2013

    I think teaching them to think in growth mindsets would be helpful as well, (the mindset that intelligence is pliable and that it doesn't matter what stage of intelligence you're at now, you can still grow it). I would read Carol Dweck's book "Mindset".
     
  15. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Jul 26, 2013

    Stealing, Ted!
     
  16. jpablot

    jpablot Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2013

    Make sure they experience success. Find out some things they can do and focus on that and work up from there.
     
  17. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2013

    Ted, this is awesome! Gonna try it with my 8th graders!
     

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