Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mat routine versus trapeze

OK the honeymoon is over and right now I'm seriously challenged by managing my two very unruly classes (though as usual, the problem is down to a minority of individuals).

As a result I'm not making as much progress as I'd hoped, though this is more pronounced in English than Maths. I think the predictability of what happens in Maths suits many of the learners (is that an indictment of me?) and the language barrier many experience in English is less of an issue.

Though on the slow side, the progress we have made so far is pretty solid, thanks to the Jump Math material I'm using. Most of the kids who'd been close to failing are shining and very proud of themselves, so that's a big thing to feel happy about. On the downside, while giving attention to those whom I know needed it... I missed out on a few others who've 'fallen by the wayside' as revealed by a recent quiz. Though I feel responsible for not having noticed, fortunately I can help them back on track before our major test for the term.

I'm still figuring out how to keep track of the progress of 30 children per class, at a time, without completely killing myself with over-frequent marking. While I usually get around to helping those who ask, others have been quietly messing up.

What to do?

Ideas so far:
- compile a more comprehensive list of learners to keep an eye on
- mark smaller sections more often
- form quick study groups within class (I have no idea of how to make this work!) rather than helping learners one by one and missing out on some

A final word on Jump Math. It's been a really good feeling for myself and the learners, never to have felt that quicksand-feeling of half-formed ideas and misconceptions under their feet as they try to get to the other side of a task. Our feet have been firmly on solid ground. But the last two days I deviated from the material, mostly to speed up and finish an overdue unit.

Without the careful scaffolding we've been used to, suddenly a bunch of the kids looked like worried trapeze artists again.

I wonder whether I'm coddling the most able students too much, perhaps undermining their belief in their own ability to struggle through and figure things out. On the other hand, the sense of ability most formerly-struggling learners are glowing with is hard to pass up.

I guess there's always differentiation. Anyone got a link to good 6th grade enrichment material?

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