Q&A #541


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From: Cindy (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Sep 08, 1998 at 22:31:31
Subject: Re: Tracking

I can understand your frustration, because I also have the same type of
class.  I've gone to a learning center approach, and it's working out great.
 (I teach 8th grade general math).  Here's how I do it.

First day of school - kids take a test on basic skills I want them to know by
the end of the year (whole number operations, decimals, fractions, percent,
integers, order of operations, equations) and record all areas each child
passes.  They do not have to do any work or take any tests on these areas
(few students pass more than 3 areas - and I divide decimals, fractions,
integers into 2 categories - add/subtract and mult/div)

Learning centers:  There are 4 centers:  3 learning and 1 enrichment.  The
learning centers are: basic math, pre-algebra, other (geometry, measurement,
probability, graphing, etc).  I'm on block schedule, so I have 95 minutes for
each class.  Students spend 25 minutes on each center (8 problems per center)
while I roam the room.  Peer tutoring is taught and encouraged.  Students who
do not need to do a center either complete an enrichment activity or tutor
someone who needs help.  It takes awhile to put the centers together, but if
you laminate them, they're ready forever.

The centers stay the same for 2 week cycles.  The first 2 weeks of this year,
I had whole numbers, order of operations, and graphing as the three centers.
 Students could test out of whole numbers and order of operations. Enrichment
activities involved perimeter and area investigations with pentominoes.
After 4 class days, the 5th day is the test.  The test is clearly labeled
Learning Center 1, 2, 3, and students sign those sections that they tested
out of.

We are now ending our second cycle which had add/subt decimals, add/subt
integers, and mental math.  The 9 week's exam will also serve as the next
term's pre-test.  STudent who do not pass a skill on the exam will have to
repeat that skill in a center.  They will continue to repeat those unlearned
skills all year if necessary.

While I roam the room, I use manipulatives or alternate strategies as needed
by the students.  Usually 3 or 4 students need the same lesson, so I teach
them as a small group.  My rule is that once I teach you something, you have
to teach it to someone else.  That makes my job much easier and reinforces
the lesson.

 -Cindy, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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