George Lucas Educational Foundation

HELP!! Mixed ES class grades 2-4....

HELP!! Mixed ES class grades 2-4....

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Without going into my entire story, I have taught in the past, not at this level. For what it matters, this is my first time teaching, and I have ES grades 2-4. I am expected to use the 2-4 grade curriculum in the class and students are in grade correct curriculum. Problem, they function 2-3 grades below. (I was told differentiate) I have no mentor, no principal, and really was told here’s your room, here’s the books. I’m not having 11 students and they are ALL over the place with their abilities. I have one GREAT aide, but she is used to the old teachers way, and I can seem to figure how what to do or if I should even change it!! Any suggestions or lesson plan ideas for mixed ages?

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Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator

Edutopia has some resources related to differentiated instruction that might be of help. For instance:
What Works for Differentiating Instruction in Elementary Schools

Since your students are all over the map in terms of reading level and ability, it sounds like you'll need to adapt/modify/supplement some of your existing grade-level materials to enable students to fully access the curriculum.

This article from LD Online addresses that issue: Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom.

Hope those resources help a little bit. I used to teach and remember walking into a similar situation (handed the keys to my mixed-ability, HS SDC classroom along with the grade-level textbooks and the instruction to differentiate). Luckily, I did have a mentor who was able to help me navigate. Are there people you might be able to turn to for support at your school site or elsewhere?

Becky Fisher's picture
Becky Fisher
Education Consultant

This is super tricky. Do you have any access to technology? I'm a fan of the blended learning model, which you can find more resources for here:

If you don't have access to technology, you can certainly do something similar with differentiated learning groups and projects. It's great that you have a helpful aide in the classroom. If you break the class up into levels for various subjects you can help each student learn at their own pace. One group can work with you, one with the aide, and the other groups can work on individual projects or group work.

I also agree with Ashley. Looking for more support is always useful. Perhaps another teacher or friend that you've known for a few years. You can always post ideas on here to get the Edutopia Community input as well.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

It's early in the year, so I'd take some time to build community. Get to know the kids and let them get to know you. The more data you have- about their abilities, interests, learning styles, etc- the better you'll be able to differentiate.

Ivan's picture
Elementary school teacher from Salinas, CA

I am looking for some cool and creative ways to use technology in my classroom.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Wiley does have a great series of books "The Book of Lists" that help teachers get a quick hit of information that's easy to read and apply/try. Yes, Jenifer Fox and I wrote one on Differentiation, and we have a ton of resources available for free, with links to websites and tech over on our website that might be helpful.
Finding ways to help differentiate can be a challenge, but are so necessary for kids, and we'd love to help if we can. It all starts from knowing the kids well and communicating well with home (so if there's any surprises, you can get a heads up).
Tell us what kind of things you are trying to do, and it will be easier to point you in the direction of a good tool tech or otherwise, to help you the most!

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