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teaching a self-contained multiple grade classroom


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Joined: Oct 11, 2004
Posts: 2
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Posted Oct 11, 2004 at 9:15:58 PM
Subject: teaching a self-contained multiple grade classroom

I am having a hard time figuring out how to teach 10 students all the needed materials for our state and still meet their IEP's. I have 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They are on Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade levels. I never have the time to get everything done and I don't have the time to work one on one with each student. I also am having behavior problems because we believe one of my students has been placed in the wrong ECE room.
Does anyone have any suggestions on ideas that I do in my classroom to help teach all 10 students on all these different levels and still meet all their state requirements. :?

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
Posts: 1784

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Posted:Oct 11, 2004 11:10:12 PM

First, don't kick yourself because you can't work miracles. Some people often expect you to find 100 hours in a day and walk on water, and when you mention that you have the same human limitations as anyone else you get even more criticism. Don't let it get to you. You have to do your best, as you are trying to do by asking for help, and once you do the most possible by yourself the only thing left to do is to search for more help elsewhere for the kids. And once you have spent ten hours a day, you have to get some rest because you're not helping them being burned out by exhaustion. (I've been there and done that which is why I'm not in schools any more)

I find that I can save a lot of time and do the best job for my kids by doing two things: teach good general techniques to everybody, and don't re-invent the wheel.
Good general techniques: those working on K, 1, and 2 levels (and maybe even those above) can all benefit from good systematic phonics teaching and good systematic teaching of addition and subtraction facts and counting and base ten. And almost certainly printing. Some of them have seen the material before but if they're still on a Grade 2 level they don't know everything and review won't hurt. You can tell the older kids it's a review and you expect them to be faster to make them feel better about it.
Those working on Grades 3 and 4 levels can all benefit from advanced phonics, spelling by phonetic patterns, review of addition and subtraction and base ten, and multiplication facts. And almost certainly handwriting skills.
So instead of ten totally individualized lessons which you can never hope to cover, you have two group lpresentations with varying levels of expectations depending on where the student is.
As far as the IEP's and state standards, these things had better be on the lists of things to be taught so if you teach them well you are doing the right thing and staying on the right side of the paperwork.

Not re-inventing the wheel: get high-quality workbooks (and/or self-teaching texts) for the various topics and levels you are teaching, and after some group instruction have the students work individually at their appropriate level and their own pace. One student on a K level might be working on the first consonant book learning to write a p and recognize the words with the p sound, while a student working on a 2 level might have finished Book 1 and be working on Book 2 and learning about vowel pairs. Instead of killing yourself every day trying to invent ten lesson plans from scratch, use your time and energy wisely to find and choose materials that are well-designed and that cover the material needed for each student -- this takes a large investment of time and work up front, but once done, you can spend the majority of your time actually teaching. Good workbooks and textbooks (stress on the *good*) are the output of years of teaching experience and/or committees of experienced teachers, and include decades of good ideas and inspirations and techniques and error-corrections. I know I can't make up the needed variety and repetition and presentation of work off the top of my head, so I depend on well-designed books.

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Anonymous
Joined Nov 24, 2014
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Posted:Oct 12, 2004 11:32:33 PM

I feel the same way!

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Anonymous
Joined Nov 24, 2014
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Posted:Oct 12, 2004 11:32:35 PM

I feel the same way!

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:Oct 13, 2004 12:16:34 PM

What are some good-quality workbooks? Here are some (both workbooks and related materials) I've gleaned over the years:

Phonics Grades 1 to whatever (I use these for review up to and including adult literacy): *Check and Double Check Phonics* from Scholar's Choice
Book 1 -- Grade 1 and review, single consonants and short vowels
Book 2 -- can be started as early as late Grade 1, needed by almost every student up to adult, digraphs and blends and vowel pairs etc.
Book 3 -- multisyllables and spelling patterns and review etc.
Book 4 -- more multisyllables and variant spellings etc.
-- available from scholarschoice.ca (note .ca, NOT .com), inexpensive and delivered quickly all over North America.

Spelling Grades 2/3 and up to adult: AVKO spelling. Not a workbook but a ten-minute a day developmental program that teaches by patterns, will work well with a phonics program. Multilevel. Works effectively if used as designed. Start very slowly with Grade 2, maybe five words at a time, full program good for Grades 3/4 and up.
-- available online, just search for AVKO

Basic high-frequency vocabulary and very basic reading/writing skills (don't knock the very basic, the reason a lot of kids fall down on the later stuff is missing these very first steps), Grade 1 and review for 2: OLD Ladybird Key Words program Levels 1 to 6 (must be used with the little readers 1a and 1b to 6a and 6b)
-- reading books recently reprinted and available from penguin.uk (note that's .uk, NOT .com); workbook availability I am not sure of, ask; slow mail and high mailing costs but worth every penny.

Very very basic phonics, suitable for K or 1 before even C & DC, or in parallel with it, for a child needing extra build-up: Phonovisual Road to Power and Confidence, two workbooks, one on consonants and one on vowels.
-- available from phonovisual.com, inexpensive; one-person company, very slow but worth the wait.

Phonics reference -- excellent for all levels, work with all programs -- not a workbook but a set of charts, large for wall and small to cover with plastic and mount on desk -- organized in linguistic patterns, ie where and how the sound is produced in the mouth: Vowel Chart and Consonant Chart, from Phonovisual as above. Slow but worth every penny and worth the wait.

Developmental reading and writing, from around 1.2 up to Grade 3 levels: I have not found any really well-designed newer books (and see below) so I am using copies from old out-of print basals and their matched workbooks. The more I use a well-designed series, the more I appreciate the time and work that went into the preparation -- I could never prepare this much on my own, would take ten hours to prepare one hour of student work. These include development of vocabulary, usage, writing, and comprehension in little tiny steps that gradually teach the child, as opposed to throwing off the deep end into an advanced comprehension book. Presently I am using materials from the Copp-Clark Canadian Reading Development series, a "Dick and Jane" type series but with a lot more phonics included. You could use the original Dick and Jane or any similar series the same way. To find these, get into school book closets (a gold mine), try used book stores, and Amazon.com auctions and zshops -- I have secondary series that I got there.
Caution on very old books -- read through and make sure there are not any unacceptable attitudes. Some books are just tacky and not worth buying at all, and in others you may want to razor-blade out the offending story if the rest of the book is OK.

Developmental reading and comprehension 1 to 8: I am kicking myself for not having taken a set of these when they were available. In the 1980's Nelson Canada published a series of readers Grades 1 to 8, names inclding "Backpacks and Bumblebees", "Kites and Cartwheels"; each reader had both a standard workbook and a "studybook" that included all sorts of lovely comprehension work. I am trying to hunt down a set and will then guard them as worth their weight in gold. **Anyone with a western Canadian book closet is begged to do a search, will trade whatever.**

More very basic phonics: Several people here recommend Jolly Phonics. From what I have seen it appears to be suitable for K and early 1, similar to phonovisual above (but get the phonovisual charts anyhow, great resource even if you don;t use their books). You still need more advanced phonics after that and the only really good resource I know for the more advanced is still Check and Double Check. Jolly Phonics was at one time also listed in the Scholar's Choice catalogue.

Handwriting: several people on this board have recommended Handwriting Without Tears. I have seen a few sample pages, and while it is still too cutesy for my taste, the methodology is sound. Ask here or search on the net for a source.

Math drill: NOT a complete math program, but lots of not-too-dull drill with at least some concrete illustrations and explanations -- Complete MathSmart, one big fat workbook for each grade. Available at local book stores or try a search on Amazon.

Math reasoning: I haven't found anything good at all new, and have been using very old books gleaned from used book stores, collecting a couple of series. One frequently found is Making Sure of Arithmetic. The one I learned from back on them dark ages, Arithmetic We Need, is a real gem, worth every penny if you are willing to get your kid to work through it. Just tell the kids today's prices are ten times as high. The whole point of these old series is problem-solving, so have the child read the problems and work through them (with your help of course) -- that IS the lesson.

French: wonderful new series from France, "Ratus" by Hatier, from Amazon.fr Includes reading, handwriting, phonics and phonemic awareness, vocabulary, intro to gramar, and dumb jokes all in one package of one text and two workbooks. Plus fifty or sixty paperback novels with the same silly characters for independent reading. We need this in English!!

That's my bookshelf/mobile car-office, solid well-designed materials.

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Daawnmm
Joined Oct 11, 2004
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Posted:Oct 13, 2004 5:44:21 PM

Your ideas were very helpful. It's just hard to teach also the other content areas like science and social studies.
As of right now I have the students doing centers three days a week while I teach basic skills to my students one at a time. This appears to be working, but they get tired of doing the centers at this age.

Do you have any suggestions for science and social studies?

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:Oct 13, 2004 10:31:05 PM

Years ago I picked up a good science workbook on the Earth and space that was on about a Grade 3 level. I have a colouring book with Rocky Mountain scenes and a sentence or two about each animal, suitable for primary. When my daughter was in Grade 1 and the reading program provided by the government was a "whole-language" thing that was extremely lacking in content -- two little forty-page books, mostly pictures, for the whole year -- the teachers made up binders for each child and added photocopies of this kind of thing every week; I remember in December they got several pages about "animals in winter", good for reading and good for science. And so on. This kind of thing is around if you look for it.
Places to look: look into the Scholar's Choice website. Buyer beware, there is a lot of trash around, but good things can be filtered out. Look at other teacher supply places. Look at the children's section of your bookstore. Look in WalMart. Stop and look in museum gift shops (some really nice stuff even if expensive). Look at Discovery stores in person or online. Check your school book closet again. Try Amazon.com. Look at homeschooling websites (lots of stuff, the only problem being sorting). Primary science and social studies are can be approached from a lot of different directions.

You can also read little fact books (library or bookstore or used book store) aloud to the whole group -- listening skills and science/social studies at the same time, a good thing. You talk them over with the group as you read, discussing after each page or even paragraph, for vocabulary development and comprehension. You can write new interesting words on the board for vocabulary, writing, and spelling practice (degree of spelling required appropriate to various levels). Kids at 2 to 4 level can learn simplified definitions too.

You can do some simple science experiments as a group. One day we went outside every hour and made a sundial on the ground, for example; one week we made sugar and salt crystals; you can grow plants and raise guppies, and so on.

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des
Joined Jul 06, 2003
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Posted:Oct 14, 2004 7:14:32 PM

There are lots of great science books for the homeschool and parent market, lots better than some of the texts, imo. Covers topics like earth science, ecology, etc. Pick out those subjects and topics that are age appropriate. I like Victoria's ideas re simple experiments. You can do lots fo stuff with simple, cheap materials like balloons, common kitchen ingredients, etc. No need for fancy stuff that comes in school catalogs.
Setting up a simple freshwater aquarium is a great project. Lots to learn re: chemistry, biology, etc.

Look at some of the homeschooler pages.

--des

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