Writing is easier to assess because the product is apparent. Looking at the writing produced helps the teacher to determine the level of development of the class and the individual students. In a recent visit to a third grade class, some students were writing simple introductions to their opinion papers. More advanced writers were learning to start with questions that provoked their readerâ€™s interest. In previous writing classes, some students were ready for punctuating conversations and others were not. This coaching is often done in small groups of students or in one-on-one conferences, depending on which child is ready for which skill. We also individualize for the students by offering choices depending on their interests and experience, thus making writing more engaging. Math classes take a pretest for each unit. The results of that pretest help us to determine if that student needs to shore up prerequisite skills at the base level of understanding or if a higher level of challenge than the regular instruction is needed to meet the childâ€™s middle level ZPD. Sometimes students are divided into three groups (rotations) with various teachers addressing the needs of each group. At other times students with significant understanding of a particular concept will work in a group with an additional math teacher for part of the time period of that unit of study. For example, one child may work with the special teacher during a measurement unit and stay with the rest of the class for a geometry unit. Assessments based on our curriculum play a large part in helping us determine who needs what level of instruction. Is this enough? Sometimes it is, and sometimes a particular student has other needs, such as social/ emotional, motoric, musical, artistic, etc. For example, we may have a child working toward an Olympic goal in sports or another who is performing in a professional theater production or another with very specialized interests. In this case, the teachers and I will meet with parents and students to determine what more should happen for those children to maintain their appropriate ZPD level in the additional area of interest. This is done on an individual basis, and a plan is developed to meet these additional needs. Sometimes special projects are developed, giving students the opportunity to pursue special interests. Many of the after-school programs engage students in activities that may address these as well. I hope this has helped you to understand our philosophy and our system for encouraging all students to meet their potential. Our everyday program and curriculum is a challenging one and is based on the norm of our students. However, sometimes we need to make some additions for children needing extra challenges or support in one area or another. Your feedback plays a crucial role in this process. If you ever have questions, please alert your teacher or give me a call. You may see something about which we are unaware, and we will do our best to address it. Thanks for your partnership.
Spring 2017 Newsletter