I cannot believe that there is just over a month of school left! I am so very proud of each and every student in my class. My class has had its ups and downs, like any other class, and I will talk about what has worked for my classroom and students.
Classroom Set Up
At the beginning of the school year, my class was set up with three large round tables. The lay out was to encourage group work and meaningful discussions amongst peers. As it turned out, the tables were good for certain subjects and different times of the day, but during other subjects where independent work was required, like math, the set up was not working out for my students. The school purchased individual desks for each student and it made a big difference in terms of completing individual/independent work.
At the Lighthouse, students are taught math at their assessed level, not their working/chronological grade level, using the JUMP Math program. It is a comprehensive, balanced math program created by The University of Toronto. The program covers every goal in the Ontario math curriculum and uses a “guided discovery” model for students to achieve success in math; the teacher gives a lesson on a math concept and students then work on their math work independently in their JUMP Math workbook. The work presented in the workbooks lay out math concepts into manageable steps. It is this breakdown of steps that has really helped my students be successful in math; my students are discovering and understanding new math concepts and solidifying concepts they have previously learned. My students are all on different grades and units in math and this program really helped me teach math in this multilevel environment.
My students are great readers and their reading comprehension is quite strong. However, their writing needed a lot of work; all my students have a history of anxiety with regards to writing. I gave writing lessons but I found my students were still struggling in writing and engaging in behaviours (due to their anxiety), no matter how much I broke down the steps. I then implemented a direct-instruction language program called “Reasoning and Writing” (by SRA/McGraw-Hill) for all my students. This program uses a multi-step approach in teaching students higher order thinking skills; my students were taught how to organize their thoughts, refine their ideas, and edit their writing effectively and efficiently in small increments. Each lesson builds upon the previous lessons and students know what their writing expectations are. This program has reduced my students’ anxiety and increased their confidence in writing. All my students are now writing beautifully structured paragraphs and they are currently working on their first essay assignment. The “Reasoning and Writing” program set a great foundation for my students’ writing and reduced their anxiety around writing immensely.
I am so proud of all my students! My students have achieved so much success this year! I have students who did poorly in math the previous year at their old school who are now getting test scores in the nineties; this is evidence that teaching at a student’s level fosters success. I have a student who has never written a paragraph, let alone an essay, writing one of the most impressive book reports I have read. I am so very proud of each and every student for reaching all their milestones this year! Way to go, to the first intermediate class at The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre, your teacher is very proud of you!