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New basic skills teacher. Need advice please!

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JamiePete
 
 
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JamiePete
 
 
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New basic skills teacher. Need advice please!
Old 01-09-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I was just hired mid-year to work with students falling behind and prepare them for state testing. I'm working with grades 3-6 in Math and Literacy. I've been given no materials and no curriculum information. Basically this week was spent coming up with a schedule with the teachers and observing them in their classrooms. Next week, I'm pulling the kids out for small group instruction. I feel like the administration wants me to pretty much figure everything out for myself but this is my first real teaching job and I have no idea where to begin. Should I just ask the teachers what to cover and then pull them with their textbooks?

I'm very nervous and confused and really want to do a great job for the sake of both the kids and my career. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Old 01-18-2010, 02:35 PM
 
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I work in a capacity similar to yours. What I'd do if I were you is the work with them on test taking skills. You can find a lot of resources on the internet for this. Then I would talk to the classroom teachers and find out what their specific areas of need are and go from there. I don't think doing more of the same with them will help. I've found that these students need different strategies for success than those offered in the regular classroom. Do you know what size your groups are going to be? If they are large, you can have them work in pairs will you work with one or 2 students independently...if they are no more than 5-6 students, you can do activities with the whole group. Manipulatives and games are good approaches to use for these kids, so anytime you can, try to put the information being taught in that type of format. You can also spend some time working with them on test practice sample worksheet. I will read the sample out loud with them echoing me, then let them use highlighters to highlight the important information in the question. This makes it a little more fun than just regular pencil/paper. Also, allowing the students to use dry erase boards is also very effective when doing math computations.
Hope some of the ideas are helpful. Hang in there. Believe me, anything that you can do in a small group with them is better than what they are getting in the classic "whole group" setting, so you will be able to help them progress no matter what approaches you choose to use.
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Key standards
Old 01-26-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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Ask the classroom teachers for a few key standards their students need help with. Focus on a standard at a time, and make sure students know those well. Going back to the textbook with a small group may help, but as pamie2009 suggested, the students likely need different strategies, since the textbook probably didn't work the first time.

If you know what standards you're working on, the Internet is a great source for resources and ideas. For third grade language arts, I pulled some resources together here that may help: http://rosanet.org.
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Thanks...
Old 02-03-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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I was just hired for a similar position. My position is only temporary (for now) and doesn't begin until March. I'm preparing students for our state testing as well as Terra Nova testing. Because it's a pilot program, I will only be working until mid-May. Thanks for posting your questions JamiePete & thanks to all for replying. It helped me out as well.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:33 AM
 
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Well, first of all... they are lucky to have you! Many schools are now focusing on increasing their scores by bringing the "middle" group up, rather than those students who are truly struggling.

I agree with all suggestions above, and would just like to add that many state tests have an accommodation of "resource packet." While working with 6th grade students for the MCAS, I created a 5 page packet with many key math strategies, formulas, and steps to solve problems. I spent the beginning of the year TEACHING them how to use it, as well as the other accommodations on their IEPs. It has to be approved my the DOE (testing branch I believe), and was so helpful that other grades automatically started using it for their students as well.

If the students are not on IEPs or 504s, they most likely do not have many approved accommodations, therefore the most important skill you can teach them is (as previously stated above) test taking skills. Getting them familiar with the format of what they will be presented with is key so that they have independent recall of at least the format in which they should respond (for open response). The more they are comfortable with that, the better their chances! Most state tests will post sample questions on their website.

Lastly, the more you believe in them (they know!)... the more they will believe in themselves. I typically am honest with my students as to why they are coming to my group. Then they don't see themselves as the "dumb" kids... instead they feel empowered to do better. Charts or graphs with their achievement/ progress help with this as well.

Again... they are so lucky to have someone who would come on here and ask for help. You obviously care, which is the true foundation of an amazing teacher.


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