Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making every minute count

At the staff meeting today we talked a lot about making RtI more effective.  I definitely want to make the most of every moment, so it got me thinking.  One thing that came up (that I've also been thinking about lately) was the concept of over-teaching.  In other words, teaching something the kids already know.  This seems to happen the most in whole group lessons.  So what might be an effective lesson for the lows/mediums, the highs aren't getting stimulated.  I differentiate a lot throughout the day and most of our instruction is in small groups to prevent such a thing from happening.  Unfortunately, there are still some of those pesky minutes where there isn't enough support/resources/time to really make the lesson completely effective for every student.  In my own class, I have a wide range of students and am constantly incorporating ways to provide interventions for the lows and challenges for the highs.  Even so, within each small group there is still a range of skills and abilities.  Every day my team and I show a PowerPoint that I created and regularly update.  The presentation has letter naming, sounds, sight-words, numbers, and counting.  It's an easy way to make sure we cover each essential skill every day, a great review for those who need continuous reinforcement, and an important part of our routine to come together to sit and review.  Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate when everyone is looking at the same thing and saying the same things.  As the year progresses, I am seeing a wider range of needs because more and more skills are added to the curriculum.  While some still benefit greatly from the presentation, others are bored and not engaged.  I don't blame them! Just because one student doesn't know numbers to twenty doesn't mean they all don't.  So I stayed late (which isn't too surprising) to revamp my teaching and start fresh tomorrow.  I tried to use things that I have already implemented at one time or another, but aren't a part of the regular routine.  I have four student laptops in our room, plus an iPad (I'm addicted to technology in the classroom and blow my own budget to get more!), so I will use these for my lowest students.  I already set these students up with the laptops with a modified version of the PowerPoint that includes narration.  I will continue to use those, while my mediums watch a new and improved presentation that is more challenging.  For the highs, I will use clip boards that these students already have.  I originally got a tub of clip boards for these students to use when they finished work early.  The clip boards have challenge activities and a phonics reader.  We haven't really used them lately, but I think it will be the perfect thing for them because I can select specific activities for each student and they can work independently.  With all three groups working independently, I will (hopefully) be able to pull kids and work on specific skills.  So what used to be a time when everyone did the same thing, will now be a time when we have focused skill instruction.  Amazing how much thought goes into just 15 minutes of time!  I'd love to know any helpful suggestions to make our time more effective.  Any ideas?

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