1st and 2nd year teachers in the Salem-Keizer school district take part in the Mentor Program. One of our assignments this year was to participate in a book study, I chose Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning. In the upcoming series of posts I will reflect on my learning and share how it will impact my teaching, and more importantly, my students’ learning.
In graduate school I was taught a lot about planning, instructing, and assessing for student learning. Because I also studied low-incidence disabilities, we also talked about generalization. Back then it was, yes, the student can get on the bus when we meet at the regular bus stop and go on a trip with the entire class, but can the student get on the bus by himself from downtown? Now it is, yes the student can read the word on a flash card, or in a phonics reader, but can they do it automatically when flipping through their library book?
Another way generalization has an impact on my students is how much of what they learn in one environment (LRC, Gen Ed, home, etc), do they recall and use in other environments (home, Gen Ed, LRC, etc)? They struggle to learn AND they have to do it in multiple places…places have memories.
There are 2 things I’ve been working on to try and make the transition between environments easier.
First, I am aligning my intensive math curriculum with the Gen. Ed. math instructional plan. Using their yearly guides and input from the teachers, we can provide additional support and maybe another way of thinking about math skills that students are currently working on in their classrooms. This is different than the typical, 5th grader still needs to learn double-digit addition with regrouping. Kind of like life, we’re moving on. They need to learn fractions, decimals, and division just as much as anyone, hopefully I can provide that support they need to be experience success with it in my room, then they can take that success back to their Gen Ed classroom and experience success their too.
The second thing I am doing to try and improve the generalization of my students is to encourage them, through conversation, that part of the responsibility for their learning is on them. Yes, your teacher is responsible to guide your learning. Yes, your parents should help you with homework if you need it. No, we cannot do the work for you. No, we cannot make sure you remember what you are learning in the LRC and use it in your classroom. That is up to you.
I am unsure how much responsibility I can teach to elementary school students, especially K-2. But I am hopeful that my efforts make a difference for my students, even just one.