Last week's blog entry focused on a scenario of a high ability student struggling to complete his work. As a follow-up to the what would you do section, the teacher used the following strategies:
1. The teacher closely monitored the student, providing a digital timer for the student. Although this strategy works with some students, it was not successful for this student. The student had a limited sense of time; i.e., how long five minutes actually is. The student needed a more familiar way to manage his time and work.
2. While working with the student individually during recess, the student responded to the teacher actually counting aloud to 30. The student was familiar with how many more "numbers" he had to complete a paper. Counting helped the student manage time. Although counting to 30 may seem like a small amount of time, remember ... this is a very high ability student completing a first grade paper with only five questions who had already completed two of the questions. Counting aloud as a timer for students in a classroom full of students is not a viable option. However, the strategy gave the teacher valuable information about this individual student. The student's difficulty wasn't connected to his understanding of the concepts and his ability to perform the task. His issue was in the area of time management.
3. Using the information obtained about this student, the teacher began utilizing a checklist type format. She gave the student a blank piece of graph paper. When a new, independent assignment was given, she highlighted a square on the student's graph paper. For each assignment completed by the student, the student checked off one of the highlighted squares. This strategy provided a visual representation for the student, as well as allowed the student to self-monitor. This strategy was beneficial for this particular student.
While this strategy will not work for every student, this method of focusing on a student as an individual, determining specific areas of need, and utilizing the students strengths to enhance his weaknesses is an excellent strategy for every student. I had the opportunity to see the particular student recently. He was very excited. The first thing he said to me was: "I am finishing all of my work now!" Then he bent over, put his head on the floor, and talked to me upside-down while looking at me between his legs. Priceless!