Sorry for the delay. I just made this new blogging plan and then got behind in week 2!! Anyway. I'll catch up :). And try to do better :).
I had an interesting conversation today with another teacher that prompted me to write this. In one class I have a huge range of abilities. It is a 7th grade class with 13 special Ed kids, about 8 ELL's (without support) and a few regular students. Just by chance, in that class are the highest seventh graders that I have as well.
As you might imagine, this sometimes leads to some behaviors, which I have been working on. This includes kids being out of their seats, talking nonstop, and generally being very distracting with any equipment (throwing, hitting, etc) and any other type of distractions you can imagine.
The conversation we had focused around scaffolding. Maybe some of the behaviors would decrease with more scaffolding. I agree that they probably would, but at what point am I no longer teaching at the correct level? Am I still hitting the 7th grade standards? How much scaffolding is appropriate? If kids are totally shut down and are just playing around and sitting there with a blank paper, is it a scaffolding issue or a behavioral issue? Also, how does this benefit the higher kids?
I think I will try some of the scaffolding strategies that were suggested to see If they help with the behaviors, and then maybe try to pull some away. One idea that I don't do a lot of, but was suggested to me, is ways to make the lesson or activity self-checking. For example, if students are stuck -- where can they go for help without me, on their own. Some of the strategies were to give them a card or a covered paper at their table that they could check answers or get a hint if day are stuck. Or to let them work to a point, and then go over a portion of it, allowing the to finish the rest of it. It involved taking a very close look at what the objective of the lesson is. Lastly, another suggestion was to ask more open-ended questions that would allow everyone to be successful to some degree. Some students could write more than others.
How do you differentiate, when all are trying to reach the same end state test/curricular goal? How do you determine when more scaffolding a needed?
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