Monday, March 12, 2012

Individual Instruction

Do you ever have a chance for individual instruction with your students?  I've always tried to "fit" it in somewhere, but was more worried about systematically scheduling my groups and seeing every instructional group every day.

This year a block of time for individual instruction evolved during the time that our speech pathologist comes in to do "push in" language therapy groups.  I started off trying to have a group opposite her group, but for a variety of reasons that just didn't work out.  Over the first month of school, we tried a few different things during this time and finally settled into a pattern.

We have 4 adults in the room during this time: the SLP, my two assistants and me.  Here's how we organize the time now:

11:45-12:30 Speech/Language Therapy and Individual Instruction

The students come back into the room from specials, get drinks, go to the bathroom and then get their journals out. 

If the students are not working with one of the adults in the room, they are expected to be writing in their journals.  At the beginning of the month, I create a journal prompt menu.  The students tape this to the inside of their journals and "x" out the prompts as they write about them.  I use the word walls from and an individual word bank to help them with their writing too.  I do this so that the students who are at their desks writing have the support of materials when they don't have the support of the classroom staff.  This helps them to be more independent.  (In fact, if one the students calls my name while I am working with another student during this time, you'll probably hear a peer saying "You know she's going to ignore you because it's not your turn."  It took us a long time to get to this point, but they know what they are supposed to do and they know that they have strategies to be able to do it on their own.)

At the beginning of this time, one assistant takes a student to the clinic for meds and the other assistant takes her break.  I get the students transitioned and started on their journals and the SLP calls the students she needs for the day.  Once we get going here's how we are organized:

1) Students not with an adult write in journals at desks.

2) Students scheduled for speech/language go to group work.

3) Assistant #1: Helps students with AR tests.  I have 7 students who can read and take AR tests independently.  However, that leaves 6 who still need support.  This assistant pulls students 1:1.  They read her an AR book and then she helps them log on and complete the test.  We have a laminated folder for each student and tape a quarterly AR goal inside.  With the AR goal is a sticker chart so they can record their progress towards the goal.  I've also included guidelines for the adult helping (so that it's clear to the person not to help too much!)

4) Assistant #2: Has students read individually to her from their book buckets or chapter books.  In the "book buckets" students have a reading log with leveled readers from  Some of my students have started chapter books, but still need some support with them.  This is a perfect time for them to read  a chapter to my assistant.

5: Teacher: Students read their sight words to me and I record data towards mastery. (I'm fussy about the data recording so I don't like others to do this.)  This is also a time for me to read their journals and have a mini-writer's conference.  On some days I have also used this time to record Oral Reading Fluency scores.  If someone is stuck on a particular skill, I can pull that child during this time and work on it too.  (Again, just like with the reading block organization, I like to have systems set for my assistants and the students, so that I can think about how my time is best spent during this block of time.  My activities change the most, but I always fall back to sight word practice and mastery when there is not something else that needs to be addressed.)

I've enjoyed this individual time this year and I think the students have too (except for the journal writing, most of them still don't like that.)  They enjoy seeing their progress and their skills improve.  Each station has a progress monitoring piece embedded into it.  At the AR station, they see their stickers tracking progress towards their quarterly goal.  At the book buckets station, they see their reading log fill up and the level of their leveled readers go up too.  At my station the see their mastery of the sight words turning into "star words" and then speed words.  At the SLP's station she always tells them how many they got correct in their previous session and encourages them to go for more correct this time.

Not only do the students like to see their progress towards their learning, I think they really enjoy the one on one time they get with an adult.  I have lots of data to show how their academic skills have improved but not very much about how this time impacts the climate of our classroom.  However, I really do believe that it makes a positive difference in the relationships that are developed between the adults and the students too.

Rube Goldberg Machine

My husband found this video on You Tube and sent it along to me.  It shows a 7 year old boy, Audri, and the Rube Goldberg Machine he created.

I think this is awesome!  It shows so much planning, creativity and problem solving.

My class (self contained third graders) have been participating in science lessons all year with a general education third grade class.  I would love to organize our classes into cooperative groups and have them create their own Rube Goldberg Machines.  We have 3 more science units that we have to complete for our instructional focus calendar, but perhaps we could do this at the end of the year during the last week.