Today’s blog post is going to be about the negative aspects of giving out homework to your students from first hand experience. In my previous practicum class, my teacher explained why she didn’t give out homework with a triangle diagram that looked like this:
The students are at the top of the diagram, with the teacher and the parents at the bottom.
When you give out homework that a student may not fully understand, the student is often not happy with the teacher.
When they ask their parents for help, the parent could end up confusing the student more by teaching them a different way than they were taught in class. The student ends up being more confused and when they come back to class with their homework wrong or incomplete, then the teacher gets angry at the student.
Meanwhile, the parent is angry with the teacher because their child is not fully understanding the concepts.
The teacher then becomes angry at the parent for teaching their student something completely different.
Overall, homework can cause a big mess, so my teacher just stuck to silent read for 30 minutes every night. She also mentioned that even when she did give out homework, it would come back to school incomplete most of the time so it was a waste of time. The students who didn’t really need to be doing the homework would do it, but the students who really did need to be doing it, didn’t do it.
Since Literacy Centers are self directed, it is vital to the success of the students that each center is accessible to them. I read some articles and texts on differentiation in literacy centers and it has become clear what is essential in creating differentiated centers.
The Key to Success
Gradual release of responsibility
Open ended or modified tasks
Visual and written instructions
Small group work
While focusing in on differentiation I noticed many of the positives of literacy centers go hand in hand with differentiation if done right. Like stated in my first post, thoughtful consideration need to be taken when planning groups. Rotation group can be set up like Alison stated in her webinar but when making instructional groups it is important to group them in same skill groups. This allows for targeted instruction that will help the students build up their literacy skills and receive modified instructions for when they are in different literacy centers. These activities can have the same construct for the whole class but the supplies (worksheet, sight words, books etc) and sometime parts of the criteria may be different. The initial lessons will be done with the whole class, then they will do it in their small groups with teacher support with the specific literacy level changes and then once they are ready it can be put in the literacy centers. To go along with this, groups supplies can be codes by colour, number or (my favorite) images to allow students to know what activities are at the their level when going through the literacy centers. Another important thing it to have is the instructions and criteria, either at the centers or on anchor charts, with both images and words to help all students know what is expected during their literacy block. I want to stress, that in Leach writing she pointed out that this does not mean preparing hundreds of centers that get changed out every week for each level student, but instead it is important to have good quality activity that go along with many different books, sight word, etc. so that the activity its self may not change to often but the words and text do. Allowing the students literacy skills to go deeper into concepts.
Over all in my research I learned that differentiation in literacy centers is not just having student book bins with leveled books for each student. It is a comprehensive process that addresses multiple different literacy skills to create students who are proficient in all areas of literacy. Concepts are introduced through activity that allow students to explore each area of literacy with the class, in their small groups and as an individual. By differentiating materials in the small groups students can feel confident in their tasks and are able to explore concepts deeper. Most importantly to do any of this, assessment of the students must be done and each students needs must be identified. This area is so important my next post will be dedicated to looking deeper into how to assessment with relation to literacy centers.
Here are the two readings I primary used in the creation of this post
Leach, M. (2011). Liven up literacy centers. [online] Tvschools.org. Available at: http://www.tvschools.org/docs/Liven%20up%20the%20Learning%20with%20Differentiated%20Literacy%20Centers%20K-3.pdf
Southall, M. (2018). How Does Differentiation Work With Literacy Centers? | Scholastic. [online] Scholastic.com. Available at: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/how-does-differentiation-work-literacy-centers/
When it came to assessing the lit circle meetings my sponsor teacher had a great simple assessment sheet that I thought I should share. This assessment sheet was for assessing what the students said regarding their “say something blurb,” at the lit circle meetings. The one part of the assessment sheet was for a peer to assess them and the other was for them to self-assess.
I thought the peer assessment was a great way to assess their “say something blurb,” and often went over very well with the students. The student that was getting assessed had the option of choosing who would assess them. The student could also choose the teacher if they felt more comfortable with that option.
For the self-assessment piece, the students would have the opportunity to assess themselves after they had presented their “say something blurb.” Having them assess themselves left a lot of responsibility in the student to give themselves an honest assessment. For the most part, I found that the students gave themselves what they deserved.
Dual Entry Journal
The students were also expected to do five dual entry journals for their assigned book. The dual entry book consisted of one side of the page asking what happened? And the other saying my thoughts on this… and connections. This was a good opportunity for the teacher to evaluate the work the students were doing.
I also found another assessment sheet online that I thought would be useful. I will link it here for those who would like to look.
I think a lot of students don’t know they struggle with self-regulation. Self-regulation is something teachers and parents need to teach students to do. I think it is a skill that students who have it mastered at at an earlier age, give them an advantage in a school setting. I thought it would be helpful to be able to recognize if a student is struggling with self-regulation and some of the strategies we can use to help them. It is interesting to see how other students perceive these “troublesome” students. During parent teacher conferences a few students has make reference about some students who disrupt their learning by acting out/blurting in class.
How to tell if a student is struggling with self-regulation
Students who are struggling with self-regulation may:
Act overly silly or “out-of-control’
Throw tantrums or have melt downs
Has difficulty waiting turns or waiting in general
Demonstrates disruptive behavior during social interactions such as talking too loud, standing in peoples bubbles, cant keep hands to themselves
Has difficulty walking silently or waiting in line
Grabs or touches objects impulsively
How to Help Students develop Self-Regulation
I think anything involving games and hands on activities is a great way to incorporate self-regulation in the classroom. Games that help support students problem solve, plan, memory, attention, motor control, and sequence will help them develop the skills needed for self-regulation. Calming techniques are also a good way to create self-awareness and mindfulness in the classroom.
Games/Activities that Teach Self-Regulation
Deep breathing/ other breathing techniques
Partner obstacle course
Meditation for kids
Calming sensory activities such as blowing bubbles, cards, cooperative games, I-Spy, and scavenger hunts
Calming Sensory Strategies for the Classroom
A quiet place and a way for students to signal they need a break
This could easily be put in place in the classroom, as basic as a corner with a comfortable chair, a tent, or canopy, anything that gives the student privacy. You also want the area to be fairly quiet to limit the inputs (auditory/visual) so the student can calm themselves, regroup, and then return to the class/.
Calming Tactile Input
Tactile sense is the way we interpret information from the the receptors on our skin. Our tactile system helps understand and differentiate pressures, textures of a certain object and helps us understand and determine what we are touching. It also helps us understand pain and temperature and how our bodies react to both.
This could look like a sensory bin that is filled with sand, rice, dried beans. Students would then run their hands in the bins and it provides a calming sensation for them.
Calming Oral Sensory Input
Chewing can help students calm down by chewing something like a bagel, sum, chewy caramel, fruit leathers. Or they can try sucking in a thick smoothie, or blowing light objects across a table.
Calming Auitory Input
When students are acting a little wild, a great way to calm them down is to quiet things down.
Playing calm music while students are working (raining, waves, oceans), this could help block out other auditory noises that maybe distracting to students.
Calming Visual Input
Too much visual stimulation may be distracting for some students
Somethings you can so are: Use natural lighting, de-cluster the classroom, lava lamps, sensory bottles/jars, or having shape of the day posted.
Calming Proprioceptive input
This is where the student is move their body or body part against heavy resistance
Stress balls, slime, chewing tough gum, pushing or moving heavy objects