Sunday, February 24, 2013
Helping Students Behind in Math
I feel that my school makes considerable effort to provide support for struggling students. Twice a week we have tutorial time when teachers can sign students up for remediation activities. Students who fall behind on homework are assigned a place at lunch where they can eat and do homework at the same time. Next year, students who haven't passed the state test in math will be placed in a companion class to their regular math class that will help them fill math gaps. Students who don't quality for special education services but are having a hard time getting work done on a regular basis for any reason get assigned to an academic lab period, where a teacher is available to help them one-on-one with their work. The academic lab typically has fewer than 6 students in it each period.
In my department, I'm lucky enough that we always schedule at least one review day before a summative assessment. Sometimes we do a whole class activity and sometimes I differentiate the activities based on what I know from formative assessments. After that, students can remediate and retake assessments on the same topic as many times as we can squeeze it in during class or tutorial. I do require students to show me what kind of effort they've put into learning the stuff they missed before they retest, usually from materials I supply since many of our topics aren't in our books.
Where I struggle is with the students who, even with all this support, still have difficulty in math. Sometimes the problem is with their reading level. Other times they are slow processors who don't process slowly enough to get assigned to a study skills class or qualify for special education support but are slow enough that it takes them twice as long as everyone else to get it. Having defined class time periods is especially hard on them, because if they haven't got it by the end of the period it's like starting over again the next day.
I am really looking forward to reading what other teachers are doing. I get so many ideas from the blogosphere!