On level vs advanced

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by Croissant, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2011

    Hi all!

    I am a first year teacher, and I will be teaching 6th grade writing. I am going to have several "on level" classes as well as a couple of "advanced" classes. I plan to take the first couple of weeks to feel out the situation and kind of decide for myself how on level or advanced they are before I start deciding how to differentiate, but I was wondering what others who are in this position do.

    How do your lessons differ between the classes? Do you do something completely different with your advanced classes, go into more detail, or just move more quickly? I was always a fairly advanced student, but I dropped out of several AP classes because the only difference between AP and on level was that AP classes did extra work. I don't want my advanced students to think they are being punished for being "smart," and I don't want my on level students to feel like they don't get to do the fun things the advanced classes do. I would love some advice! Help!
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 24, 2011

    An advanced writing class may have more to a writing piece. For instance, you might give your on level class the information to write a paper, but expect your advanced class to come up with the paper.

    You might assign a topic and starter to your on level, but provide more choice and less structure for your advanced.

    The grammar skills and writing skills may be different or the same depending on the group of students.
     
  4. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 24, 2011

    I have given my advanced classes more challenging exams, gone at a quicker pace, added/skipped/altered activities. I also raise the bar on certain projects/activities. I'm a little more lenient at times as far as going out on tangents. For example, we were working on an end of year project where we explore folktales and crafts from around the world. My high level class got involved in a discussion about what makes the US so much different from the rest of the world? Why are we always the ones who jump in when there are emergencies? Why do other countries hate us? Very deep topics for 8th grade. They are beginning to seek their place in the world and to figure out what they support/feel? We skipped one whole activity just to keep going on the discussion. This happened several times in the year and we either did extra HW to catch up with the other classes, or we skipped a particular lesson. Many of these kids told me they really enjoyed the discussions we got into and felt they learned things through them.

    You'll have to do some feeling out in the beginning, but I think you'll be able to figure things out within a couple of weeks. Good luck!
     
  5. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Jul 25, 2011

    Thank you for the advice. Unfortunately I am expected to focus on the two types of writing students will be tested on in the seventh grade, so that eliminates some of the opportunities to allow students more freedom in choosing what they write as far as things like genre and topic are concerned. I was considering working some extra creative writing activites into the advanced classes, but like I said, I don't want it to feel like the advanced classes have more fun.

    I know I'm totally jumping the gun here since I haven't even met my students yet, but I'm a planner and a worrier ;)
     
  6. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 28, 2011

    You CAN incorporate AWESOME writing activities. Every year, I must focus on narrative and expository writing with a beginning focus on persuasive writing at the end of the year. Fourth grade is the first time students are tested in writing, so there is a lot on my plate. However, I incorporate choice and teach genres within the kinds of writing.

    Narrative: Historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, folk tales, journal writing

    Expository: Writing about history, science, and math, biographies and bibliographies, how-to guides

    During my expository unit, students in my class complete various activities prior to writing about their dream house, design a theme park, come up with their own restaurants, and describe their dream schools.

    We do all kinds of activities that revolve around skills: writing excellent leads, writing similes, metaphors, and other figurative language, dialogue, vivid vocabulary, etc.

    Of course I teach the formats for the types of writing they are expected to produce, but once they are familiar with the format, they have a lot of choice. Whether a student wants to write about how his father is his hero, how he wants to be a chef when he grows up, or his memorable summer adventure at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is his choice. My students develop an inspiration list at the beginning of the year for writing and keep it close by.

    Oddly, I add that the advanced classes can have more fun. Advanced students are curious and thirsting for new exposures to all kinds of topics. This is my fourth year teaching advanced fourth grade (and my eighth year teaching overall)... you go more in-depth and most certainly do not have to rush.
     
  7. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2011

    Ms. Jasztal - what great inspirational ideas. I am so sick and tired of the districts harping on the testing :mad:- We are teaching our kids for their futures, not for the end of year state exam. (A new thread could be opened on that topic :D)

    This year we have new standards for language arts and it does mention that the focus should be on persuasive and expository writing. I teach my kids how to do all types of writing. We do a foldable with basic info about each type of writing and we refer back to that as we begin working on each type. I love some of your ideas and will incorporate some of them this year! We all need to keep our excitement alive and not feel so bound by the standards. They are minimums - we can go so much further, especially with our advanced students.
     
  8. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2011

    Croissant, I encourage you to look beyond the standards. There are many opportunities to include the other types of writing. Bellwork is a great time to assign a freewrite that could be descriptive, fantasy, etc. Use mentor texts that students can use to model their own writing. After writing basics are covered, let them choose their own genre once in a while or give them a choice of topics. I don't know how the standards based exams are in your state, but most of the time our writing prompts are broad enough that a student usually can choose to write the essay as expository or descriptive, expository or narrative, narrative or descriptive...

    The advanced classes are not necessarily having more fun - they have more choice and chances to explore. They are still writing. They are doing more writing than the kids who are struggling!

    Good luck! You'll do fine.

    Ms. Jasztel has wonderful ideas. I hope you are able to incorporate some of them.
     
  9. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2011

    Thank you all. Oddly, now that I've gotten in my classroom to start arranging/decorating, I'm feeling more sure that I'll be able to come up with some good stuff. I guess all the bulletin board building has restarted my creative juices ;)
     
  10. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 29, 2011

    Don't be a humdrum, by-the-book, "Wellllll, I guess I have to succumb to that like everyone else" kind of teacher. You can still do so many awesome things. And in sixth grade, the kids are even more creative than my students... or should be. :)

    In my writing center, I have cookbooks, home magazines, paint chips, thesauri (?!... I guess that is the plural form), prompts (if a student needs inspiration during choice writing... some kids like prompts), photos, and much more. Soon, I will share photographs of my area, though the table I am using needs to be painted and fixed up. I personally believe kids do better when they have the tools to be creative!
     

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