Which structure would you prefer for multiple math groups?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jerseygirlteach, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Aug 22, 2010
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    Jul 30, 2014

    If you had two math groups in your classroom that were very different in terms of ability levels - so different that they were learning completely different concepts at the same time, which of these (or feel free to tell me another suggestion) procedures would you prefer:

    Note: All students in the class need a lot of attention due to learning and behavioral issues and have trouble working independently. Also, parapro is competent, but you feel that her instruction/management is sometimes sub par.

    a) Students divide into groups. Teacher (you) plans for both groups, and instructs the larger group while parapro uses your plans to teach the smaller group. Teacher comes over and observes smaller group sometimes when larger group is working independently. However, smaller group receives the vast majority of their instruction from parapro.


    b) Teacher is responsible for both groups simultaneously. One group is given easy to complete "busy work", while teacher works with the other group, and then the reverse. Para circulates the room to assist with work being completed.

    What would you be more comfortable with? I've been doing "a", but I'm not that comfortable with my para's instruction. I've been considering "b", but I HATE to waste so much time with easy busy work. However, it's the only thing they'd be able to complete independently.

    What do you think?
  3. Kelster95

    Kelster95 Companion

    May 13, 2014
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    Jul 30, 2014

    Could you set up some type of centers, daily fiveish, with basic skills and review materials the group you aren't working with could rotate through. Also if you have computer access Moby max has some math activities.
  4. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

    Jul 6, 2007
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    Jul 30, 2014

    I do center/station rotations. The kids are responsible for completing center activities independently while I work with a small group.

    It doesn't happen overnight. We do a lot of practicing the right and wrong way to work at a center. For a couple weeks, I don't meet with a group at all; I just monitor their ability to stay on task.

    I almost always have a computer station; it is the best way to keep kids busy and engaged while reviewing skills, and since the kids are plugged in (headphones), management is a breeze!
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Feb 5, 2011
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    Jul 30, 2014

    I was also going to suggest centers. If the activities are meaningful it's not "busy work." It's the same thing classroom teachers have to do when they work with their guided groups, since they have to have the other students doing something obviously. I would have the para monitor the centers and keep kids on task. If your para does a good job with this, that's a bonus! I've worked with several paras in both gen ed and sped, and I find for some reason I just can't get them to do this effectively. They tend to just kind of wander off and not really engage with the kids. I know it's not the most exciting task in the world (I'm guessing they'd rather teach a small group?), but it's really helpful to have someone monitoring kids that are supposed to be working independently.

    If centers don't appeal to you, you could also split the group in half and have the para work on review skills while you teach the meat of the lesson, and then switch. I did this with my para last year. Since I'm required to group students by grade level and not ability level, I had wildly different ability levels in my room at the same time. I'd plan two completely different lessons, and then my para would have a series of activities/routines to choose from for the other group (fact practice, place value practice, number building practice), etc. I totally trust my para to teach a lesson (which we did sometimes for reading), but I had a few students in every grade level who had reading services only. Again, since I was required to group by grade level, these students were in the room at the same time as students who may have math services only. So if I had the para running another math lesson I would have no one to do extra reading with the kids who didn't do math with us. It wasn't perfect because most of my grade levels couldn't really be split into two groups nicely either (I often had 3 or more distinct ability levels) but it was the best I could come up with! I only had 45 minutes to teach reading, writing, and math combined, so centers wasn't an option for me.

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