Always a learner
I live by the saying, "You learn something new everyday."
On a given day I have 24 six year olds, 15 boys and 9 girls. We have created a classroom community of routines and structures and for the most part we do well. On the other hand I have 5 very rumbustious, competitive advanced boys that are a constant distraction to the rest of the class because they race through their work to be be the first ones done and end up being a behavior issue.
These boys get bored easily with nothing for them to do so they find little secret places around the classroom to go hang out and talk, make up excuses to stand at their friends desk, talk to their elbow partner(most likely a struggling learner) and find toys, paper, clips and other random items to fidget with.
One of the issues I had was not wanting to move them ahead of the class by teaching them the next concept or just giving them random worksheet that have little to do with the topic we are working on.
Through my essential question, "Will adding more challenging rigor to my advanced student's assignments decrease their behavioral issues in the classroom?" I hope to change this competitive behavior by eliminating much of their down time.
These students will be doing the same work as the rest of the class it will just be modified so that they are taking more time to do extended work. An example would be for a writing assignment. I would produce a more complex sentence frame for them to follow and instead of providing 1 detail they would need to provide 3. Or when we do word work with sight words I would challenge them to write the words, backwards, with their opposite hand, in alphabetical order while the rest of the class is still practicing recognition.
I would like to see all my students engaged whether the work be difficult or easy and not witness poor behavior due to either one of these factors.
As suggested in Beverly Falk's, The Power of Questions, I decided to keep a journal of some of the issues that I experience in my classroom. This week I struggled with the following: Competitive students(particularly advanced boys) rushing and racing each other to finish their work before the rest of the class then becoming a behavior problem, i.e.- playing around/joking/visiting around the classroom. I wondered what can be done about this? The easy fix is just to give them additional or busy work but what can I do that would be meaningful? In most cases I can't just stop teaching or helping the rest of the class to show them the next concept, so if they are not being challenged(bored), what can I do to keep them out of trouble? Another interesting thing that I documented was the difficulties I had managing instructing the rest of my class when my special needs (SPED) student needs so much of my attention. Very often the entire class has to completely stop whatever we are doing until the situation is resolved with this student. I've asked myself what strategies can I put in place so that learning is still happening instead of me throwing a worksheet at them?
Need to know: I need to know what is going to keep these advanced learners wanting to keep learning even after they think the learning is done. What is going to motivate them to challenge themselves and put more into their assignments. How to change their thinking so that they understand it is not important to be the first one done.
What I already know: That when there is challenging rigor taking place in the classroom students are less likely to be a behavior issue.
In response to Linda Darling-Hammond's first few chapters to The Flat World and Education I can't say that I am completely surprised because I don't think severe inequalities in our school system are new but the data and the numbers are I think what shocked me the most. In my educational experience I have had the opportunity to attend schools that didn't receive a lot of funding; had low test scores; the majority of students were minorities but then also attend schools with awards; rich kids driving new cars and new books for every class. I could say the same for my teaching experiences as well. I've had the best of both worlds and the differences are obvious. I like the fact that these issues are being addressed and discussed. They cannot be denied but we are still so far from action being taken place.
Unfortunately this isn't a quick fix. Historically there were positive jumps when federal funding and programs gave a lot of money and aid to those in need. Money talks! We also know good teachers(highly qualified)teach better. They are more successful. These teachers need good reason(incentives)to spread out and teach where they are really needed to make a difference.
The idea of the world becoming flat actually reverses everything we know about the world being round. The world is supposed to be this huge mystery that only a few would ever get to explore in its entirety but now it's like the mystery is gone. Everything you want to see, know, hear, taste, is just a simple click away. It's virtually easy to get to one place across the world to another, for most. As you can imagine many will get left behind and this book tells you exactly who they are.
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