Well, many of you have asked me to share more about how I work with my son, who is now 6 (just had a birthday). Basically what I do with him is very similar to what I did when I taught 6-9, just on a smaller scale. Almost everything I do is what Sister Mary Motz, my trainer, did in her classes for many years. So those of you who trained with her (many of you have emailed to tell me you have) will find these ideas very familiar.
This post will concentrate more on the method that I follow, and subsequent posts will share more about day-to-day activities.
Sister Mary said that when a child enters 6-9 (first through third grade), you have very dual tasks. Those two tasks are to 1) meet the child where they are (in terms of abilities and prior knowledge), and to 2) challenge them, if need be, to bring them up to where they should be. These may seem slightly contradictory, but I don’t believe they are. Still, it is a delicate balance to strike, especially in a large classroom.
One tool that she used was workplans. Workplans enabled her to maintain that balance that I spoke of before. Basically, they are lists of the different presentations that children will receive in a month, with spaces to mark if the child had received the initial presentation (a slash /), tried the material by themselves (an X), and then finally mastered the material (an asterisk *).
These workplans were flexible enough that they allowed room for choices on the part of the child (as far as which work to do on which day, and with whom), but provided structure so that they knew what was expected of them.
I started out the first day of our new school year by giving my son the September Level 1 plan and explaning to him how it worked. He seemed really excited to have a way to track his presentations and work. Usually at the end of each day we look through it and mark off anything that we’ve done together or that he’s done by himself.
I have workplans for Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade) for September, October, November/December, January, February, and March. They are all individual Word files, and you can find them at my Free Downloads pages along with other Teacher Tools and other free materials. Each level and month are separate, so there’s September Level 1, September Level 2, etc. for a total of 12 in all. Because they are in Word, it would be easy to customize them based on your own materials and classroom needs.
You may wonder why they only go through December. That is because at the beginning of January, the children are given a blank workplan (blank lines grouped by curricular area) that they use to keep track of their work. They still receive presentations, but not as many as before. And now, they have four previous months of work to choose from along with any new work being presented. So an open workplan works really well from January until the end of the year. As always, more next time!