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Q&A #11798


"One-room schoolhouse" in a classroom

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From: Tom Meyer <DrTMeyer@yahoo.com>
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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