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Overwhelmed in multi-grade classroom...HELP!
Old 09-10-2017, 11:02 AM
 
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I am completely overwhelmed right now. First of all, I can't sleep but a few hours a night because I am worrying about school.

I am teaching in a multi-grade elementary classroom. My kids are grades 3/4/5/6 but function around the grade 2 level....maybe a few are LOW in math (like kinder) and a few are higher in language arts, like grade 3.

My teacher friends have suggested that I teach using themes, which I have never done before. For the first month of school, I thought I'd try ''sunflowers.'' I found some things on abcteach and figured I can start there. I teach the cores (math/LA/science/social), but am finding it REALLY hard to wrap my head around the pull-out part of this job.

For example, I have math 3/5 while43 and 6 are out for inclusion. Then ELA with the whole group, then math 4/6 while 3/5 are away, then social with 5/6 on one day and the next social with EVERYONE (so 3/4 missed the lesson the day before). And how the heck do I do SOCIAL STUDIES with sunflowers?

I just don't get it. I don't know what to do. I have reading levels for some kids, not all. I need to assess alphabet awareness, sound/letter recognition, print/text awareness, dolch words etc....but I have all these various levels that need to be taught and I need to assess.

Oh, and no technology til next week at least so no way to get them on starfall or abcya for learning games.

Please help. It's Sunday and I have nothing planned tomorrow because I'm confused where I should be headed.


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take a deep breath
Old 09-10-2017, 11:13 AM
 
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Breathe. Your situation reminds me of how one-roomed school houses operate. I don't know how you got your classroom all structured and set up so I don't know what to suggest. Could you start with what you know?
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:28 AM
 
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Yes, it's VERY MUCH like a one room school house for the core subjects. I'm not sure I have a ''set up'' per se.

I have four different grades, that are coming and going for 50% of their classes, while I teach the other 50%.

There are four different scenarios of what I'm teaching when, depending on which day it is. I know for sure that for the two ELA periods and two MATH periods, I plan to do one session of whole group instruction and one session of centers.

So, for ELA, I will have one period of centers where I can do guided reading while the others do word work, buddy read and listening to reading online. Then for my second ELA period, I will do a whole group session. Maybe a novel study, where I read the book to them and we work on various reading strategies and vocabulary work.

For math, again, two periods. One will be centers, where a group will work with me while others do math board games with EA or online math games on iPads. The second session will be a whole group lesson, probably morning meeting style, with a ''Question of the Day'' on the easel that we work through as a group.

When it comes to social and science.....ugh, I don't know. Again, not sure how I can do themes with this.

Every night I come home and reinvent the wheel. Planning is taking me about 4 hours a night for the next school day.

I can't keep going like this.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:30 AM
 
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How about small group instruction? Pull groups of kids with similar ability levels. Have the other kids work on independent work (reading alone or with a partner, computer work - newsela.com, readtheory, mobymax, kahn academy.. vocab sorts, review games).

Edit: I just saw that you are doing this with reading and math.

For science and ss.. I would do something whole group. Differentiate the 'projects' based on ability level. Like one group draws, other writes, another researches and writes an analysis of the for example science experience.

For SS.. I would do themes like community helpers, current events, cultures, etc.

I'm guessing this is a sped room. Look at the students IEP goals too and see what overlaps.

Can you contact the teacher who did the job before you? I think if you find a formula that works.. you will be able to cut your planning time down.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:36 AM
 
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Apparently the lady that taught before me only lasted a year and then retired and moved away.

I have heard from others that this classroom has had a new teacher every year for the last 5 years.

I feel like crying.


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That was my question
Old 09-10-2017, 11:59 AM
 
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Who taught in this method before? Can you track all of them down and get an idea of how they made it work or tried to?

Can you ask your administrator for assistance with organizing the class? Has the same administration been there over the last 4 years?
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:30 PM
 
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What is the reason why anynody has this assignment. I've heard of a combo grade with 2 grade levels but 4-- wow! I can't imagine. Is this a common practice at your school?? How many students do you have? do you have an aide??
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:36 PM
 
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This is common throughout my district.

I have an EA for most of the day, except the first and last half hour of the day.

After crying, I got to work. I have divided my kids into four reading groups....kinder, gr 1, gr 2 and gr 3 based on the DRA scores that I currently have (for half of them). I am planning to have a guided reading with teacher station, a technology station, but I need help thinking of what to do for WORD WORK and WORK ON WRITING.

I would prefer to find a system instead of spending the year hunting for random things every night. Any ideas?
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:41 PM
 
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I would have them work on the same skill/subject at different levels. There are too many levels to try different things. My district has three grade levels together with a total of 5-7 students. The teachers do this and it seems to work. Hang in there.
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:44 PM
 
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Thank you for the encouragement! I'm glad to hear that someone has figured this out!

Do you have any idea about a differentiated system for WORD WORK and WORK ON WRITING?


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Old 09-10-2017, 02:02 PM
 
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I would keep word work simple. Something like daily 5. Stamps for stamping words, rainbow writing, make words with playdough or those wax strings, or write in sand/gel in baggie. Maybe if you have tech. you could do differentiated words in Spelling city.

Work on writing. Does this need to be guided/graded? Or can you just let them write? Sometimes assign a prompt?
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Old 09-10-2017, 03:19 PM
 
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You said many in your class are functioning at a 2nd grade level so my 2nd grade writing units might apply.
1. Personal Narrative
2. Letter Writing
3. How-to or Expository
4. Descriptive writing using lots of adjectives and "dress up words"
5. Poetry
6. Persuasive and Opinion Writing
7. Reports and Research Writing

I don't restrict myself to writing only within these units. If we need to write a letter to a guest speaker, we write a letter.

If you would like ideas of specific assignments within these units, just let me know.
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Old 09-10-2017, 03:31 PM
 
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I used to teach LS with grades K-4th grade. It is a challenge. I used to hang a file folder on the side of each students desk with their daily center/ independent work in. That way I could individualize each kids' center work to meet their needs as I was meeting with groups. I agree to keep it simple as someone else mentioned. Try using as much as the Daily Five routines as possible. Have students build their sight words and spelling words with stamps, magnets, boxes of letters. You could also have kids build and write sentences using some sort of manipulative like reading rods or word cards. You can differentiate this by stating how many words you want in a sentence. Listening centers are great too for multi-aged rooms too. You might want to try to pick some topics to read about that fall into social sciences in guided reading too for your non-fiction books. Activities with those books could count for reading and social science grades.
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Old 09-10-2017, 03:38 PM
 
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Are you the only teacher in your school with a classroom like this? If not it may help to seek out someone who could mentor you during this first year. Does your school have any set curriculum for the subject areas? If so it could be beneficial to check with teachers from the grade levels that your children are performing at to get materials from them For instance if you have children reading at the 2nd grade level you could get materials from the second grade teachers to use with those students. Hope this helps and be sure to keep reaching out to members on ProTeacher as well as teachers in your school. Good luck!
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