From: Tom Meyer
To: Teacher2Teacher Service
Date: Jul 18, 2003 at 13:11:13
Subject: "One-room schoolhouse" in a classroom
How can I do a better job of teaching a "one-room schoolhouse" of mathematics levels in my high school bilingual mathematics classes? In my 3 1/2 years of teaching math to recent immigrants from 14 Spanish- speaking countries, I have made some observations and gathered suggestions: My Algebra I, Pre-Algebra, and Geometry students literally vary in mathematical background from very limited elementary education (placed in high school because of their age) through the levels to those with advanced preparation, ready for Pre-Calculus (placed at a lower level because of the limitations of our bilingual program). (Note that class size averages 20-25 for 43 minute periods.) When I attempt to teach the prescribed level of the official course to every student, a substantial chunk of the class is bored and frustrated while another large section is bewildered and lost. In this case the detracking model stretches way beyond the snapping point. Having the advanced students tutor the basic level students sometimes works, but to the detriment of the advanced students learning new material. Potential strategies: splitting the class into 3 or 4 levels with weekly cross-level hands-on activities, having work stations like some elementary teachers, trying to schedule similar topics at different spiral levels for the different groups with questions that allow access at different levels. Is there research on, say, rural schools in other countries with suggestions on how to do this? Perhaps a key is focusing on how to help students generate the desire to become self-reliant, life-long learners. I really want to address all my students needs; there are too many students at the various levels to just do individual tutoring or enrichment as if they are outliers. Thank you.
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