Keep it Simple!

Have you ever just thought....."what am I doing.....?" Like not when driving, or doing some chores, but literally in the middle of one of your lessons---what am I doing?! It's like I'm speaking a foreign language, these kids just aren't getting it.

The common core standards are certainly rigorous, but the problem I have with the depth of those standards is the fact that I find it hard to delve into them until my kiddos are able to function independently and be able to read (to a certain degree).

Even though this year is year 3 for me, I honestly feel like I am doing more work! I'm not sure if it's just because it is the beginning of the year, or because I'm only teaching literacy to 2 groups of kids, but whatever it is I feel like I am struggling!

Now, I don't mean it's not going to happen for every kid. I mean most kids will be able to master the content of their grade level. However, for the bottom 8-10% (maybe  a bit more) they will not be able to master that content! So why do we keep testing them and expecting them to make the huge gains, while they are falling further and further behind---and they know it!!

With the first marking period ending, and not feeling very successful based off the data I've collected. I decided to go back to the drawing board and start simple.

After hours of questioning myself, and what EXACTLY my students needed. I came to the conclusion that they just simply need MORE time. And unfortunately, time is not something I can created or give out freely, there is just not enough time. So, we will just do the best with the time we have! And keeping it simple!!

What do I mean by simple?  Well how much simpler can you get in first grade than writing a sentence! With my lowest ability kiddos, this is what I did:

Day 1: We took a 'field trip' around the building, and I took action shots with the kiddos using the school's IPAD. When we returned to the room, I downloaded the pictures to my computer, and we viewed the pictures as an entire class (all 14 of us) and thought about the who and the what they were doing. I asked them who was in each picture. Then I asked them what was the person doing? From there, we agreed upon a sentence for a few pictures to tell what was happening. I then gave the students an index card, and they choose I picture that we viewed to write a sentence (including capital letter, spacing between words, and punctuation). After they finished their sentence, I had them take a red crayon and circle the WHO that was in their sentence, and then take a BLUE crayon and circle the DID WHAT that was in their sentence.

Day 2: I modeled whole group writing a sentence from the pictures that we saw. The students went back to their desk (meeting with myself or the special education teacher), and we created sentences using post-it notes. The teacher would write each word on a post-it note (this would be a sentence the student created). The student would then manipulate the post-its to create his/her sentence. The student would then transfer and write the sentence.
DAY 3: I printed out the pictures on writing paper (with lines at the bottom). I modeled writing a sentence, having the students tell me the who and the did what of the picture I was modeling. I then sat out about 9 different choices for them to pick to write their own sentence about. Many students surprisingly did not pick the picture that had themselves in it.
DAY 4: I printed out pictures that did NOT have the students in them. I wanted to see if they were able to create sentences for the pictures that did not hold such an important meaning to them. Again focusing on a complete sentence with the who and did what.
DAY 5: I printed out fictional cartoon-ish pictures to see if the students were able to create meaningful sentences for these pictures.

I think teachers have to meet their students where they are, not teaching above them because that's the curriculum expectation, or not teaching below them because it's not in the curriculum. Keep pushing them, or meeting them at their level.

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