Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guest Post from The Primary Gal! Differentiate Independent Work Time

Hello!  It's Amanda Wilp from The Primary Gal!  In March, I was honored to have Jayne guest blog with me in my Sharin' Strengths Series.  She wrote a fabulous post that my followers LOVED.  Now, it's my turn to return the favor.  Ugh!  I have big shoes to fill.  :)

This summer, I have been planning away due to a big change from teaching special education in all elementary grade levels to teaching fifth grade, general education.  While teaching special education, I had developed a fabulous system where I could meet the needs of all students in grades Kindergarten to Fifth Grade with the use of what I called a "Bubble Sheet."  With moving from the special education setting, where I used this in strictly reading, I had to find a way to use this in general education math.  As I worked my way through this, I decided that this is something that could take differentiation to the max in any classroom.

Differentiation is something that is a passion of mine and something I feel is a great strength in my daily routines.  Maybe it's the special education teacher in me, but I believe that you have to meet students where they are, not necessarily where we want them to be.  So I introduce to you, the Bubble Page!

What is a Bubble Page:
A Bubble Page is a list of tasks which remain the same throughout the entire year.  These tasks are selected based on grade level standards, common weaknesses in students, and providing a spiral review for students throughout the entire year.  Bubble Pages are completed during independent work time as part of Guided Reading or Math.  During this time, students work to complete their fifteen tasks as I pull small groups.

Getting Started:
Select a set of daily activities that range in levels of difficulty.  For example, in my fifth grade general education room for Guided Math, I plan to use:
  *Math Fact Practice
  *Grade Level Computation
  *Grade Level Activities Based on Current Mathematical Topic
  *5th Grade Common Core Math Choice Boards {Bundle: All Standards}
  *"I Can" Common Core 5th Grade Math Games Bundle: Covers All Standards
  *Common Core Word Problem Bundled Set: Grade 4-5
  *Math Journal Prompts and Essential Questions

Determine Levels of Bubble Pages:
For this section, I try to organize my "Getting Started" list of least to most difficult.  For example, I would love for every student to be able to walk into fifth grade with all of their math facts mastered, but they don't.  I would also love for students to walk in a be able to subtract using regrouping, but they don't.  Some students need additional practice.  If I ignore this need, I am hurting my students.  On the flip side, other kids are able to memorize facts quickly and easily and do not need daily practice.  They need to spend their independent work time working on more challenging and enriching content.

I then develop three to four levels based on the needs of my students.  These bubble pages will allow each and every student to work at a level that is perfect for them.  In my opinion and experience, this has been extremely beneficial for allowing independent work time to actually be meaningful, not just busy work.

Assigning Bubble Page Levels:
In my classroom, my students never know that some bubble pages are more difficult than others.  However, they are always motivated to change bubble pages.  They love exploring new activities or being able to decrease the number of times that they complete one task in order to increase other tasks.  This is generally very motivating for students to work and do their best.  If they find themselves stuck on something, they are great about seeking out help in order to not be held back by their work.

For the first weeks of school, I have my students complete a "Practice" Bubble Page.  During this time, EVERYONE has the same Bubble Page.  This allows me to properly teach expectations and procedures, while mentally making notes about strengths and weaknesses for students.  I typically do not pull small groups and instead spend the time really making sure that everyone understands and can complete my expectations for each task.  As the school year progresses, I can see who needs moved to a different bubble page.

Generally, I use the following guidelines:

  *Finishing the fifteen tasks early in the week----->Move them to a more difficult bubble page.
  *Being unable to finish the fifteen tasks within the week----->Move to a less difficult bubble page.
  *While working hard throughout the week, seem to complete all tasks with ease-----> Stay on current bubble sheet.
  *Finishing the fifteen tasks, yet not being able to do them accurately, possibly due to rushing----->Depending on the student, I may discuss this issue with his/her parents or move to a less difficult bubble page.

Grading Bubble Pages:
Although each of these bubble pages have different tasks, they all include the same number of tasks.  For some reason, I have been stuck on the number fifteen.  Each student has fifteen tasks, all meeting them at their level, that they must complete in one week's time.  I like this number because that requires the students to complete three tasks on each of the five days of the week.  Generally, as long as students come into my room and get started right away, this is done with ease.

There are occasional kinks that must be considered when grading:
  *If we do not complete bubble pages due to schedule interruptions or tests, each student receives three points for that given day.  This number of points may vary depending on your total number of tasks.
  *If students are pulled to a small group for a particularly long period of time, I award them 1, 2, or 3 points depending on the amount of time in which they were in my group.  This sometimes comes when difficult skills are being discussed.
  *If a student has an excused absence, they are granted three points for that day.

Perks of Implementing Bubble Pages:
What I have grown to LOVE about using these bubble pages, is the flexibility on my part.  It allows me to be the teacher I want to be by:
  *Having good routines and procedures that are conducive to learning.
  *Allow me to pull small groups with ease.
  *Provides a continuous spiral review of critical skills for the grade level.
  *Allows for the use of technology if/when available.
  *Gives students choices in their on learning.
  *Enables learning to still take place when a substitute is in the room or interruptions occur.
  *Encourages students to learn time management and being responsible, independent learners.

Interested in the product?  Check it out by clicking the image below!  :)

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Amazing post, Amanda! Thank you for sharing your hard work!

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1 comment:

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