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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meeting the Needs of All Learners

Learners take center stage and that's always a challenge since the learners present themselves in so many different ways with such a variety of needs. It's endless what a teacher can do with and for learners.

I'll be thinking about that with depth particularly since I have a large number of parent/student conferences this week, conferences where parents, students, and I will look over students' learning examples and discuss future goals.

For the large part most students are getting along, learning with happiness, and engaged in the program. This is wonderful and is the result of lots of good effort by the students themselves, the families, and the entire school community as students in our school enjoy a wide variety of classes such as art, music, physical education, technology, library, literacy, science, math, STEAM, writing, strings, band, music workshop, and social studies. They have also had a large number of special events too including trips to the play, Akeelah and the Bee, the McAuliffe Challenger Center, The Boston Museum of Science, The Harvard Peabody Museum, Gillette Stadium for a team building STEAM trip, an upcoming visit to the Museum of African American History, Boston's Freedom Trail, Great Meadows, and a living history presentation by Guy Peartree who portrayed Frederick Douglas. Projects included the exciting Global Cardboard Challenge, story contests, the ET project, their year-long passion projects in Library, the fifth grade play, biography project, STEAM investigations, and tech movie/digital story work. In addition fifth graders enjoy the leadership opportunity to be a school assembly anchor, usher, and/or tech crew. And, the parent organization and school community host a number of great events during the year including the Fall picnic, Lunar Moon Festival, World Cafe, Talent Show, Movie Night, swim program, and more.

While there is so much to be thankful for and so much success thanks to the many positive factors above, there are still some areas of concern including helping our high needs students achieve with strength and looking for ways to support students who have singular needs that require greater collaboration, thought, and service.

As I continue to think of high needs students and our last three months of school, I recognize that I'd like to work to strengthen their basic skills in reading, writing and math during core times and also give them time to express their gifts, build their passions, and engage in our rich project work and field studies. To develop their basic skills and standards-based learning, I'll look for ways to differentiate and target more during the core and other times using scaffolded learning lessons--lessons that engage, build capacity, and attract/maximize students' time and energy. I'll also make sure that they complete their Symphony Math exercises and other online supports. I'll do the same with regard to those students' who have single needs. I'll look for ways to differentiate throughout the curriculum to help meet those students' needs that fall from the mainstream in many ways.

Now it's time to design and plan for the specific details related to this work. Onward.