Custom Elementary Math and Reading Resources

Student Growth

Little Changes that can Lead to High Student Growth

Everyone looks for high student growth. Teachers feel a lot of pressure from administration, and also put pressure on themselves! We all want our kiddos to grow and learn, but what is the best way to do that? In my opinion, effective teaching is what works for the teacher and the students. This Blog post is what has worked in my classroom. I hope that you find something that will work to help your students grow!

Trust leads to student growth

Trust Leads to Student Growth

Students need to feel comfortable in their classroom with both their teacher and classmates. At the beginning of the school year, I focus on building a classroom that centers around trust and comfort. Students need to trust me, feel comfortable with me, and their peers. It takes time, but when a student truly feels comfortable to admit that they do not understand, it can make a big difference. Students that are brave enough to raise their hand and say “I don’t understand” help themselves and others.

If I can get just one student to admit that they are confused about something that I am teaching, it is the start of something beautiful! When one student is brave enough to share the fact that they are not understanding, I always thank them for for having the courage to admit it. I then ask if anybody else is confused too. There is always at least one other student that is perplexed also. I point out that by that one student showing bravery, that they helped all the others that were too shy to ask. I then have the other kids thank that student for helping them.

Students are always worried that someone will make fun of them, or get mad because they don’t understand. It does take time to build that trust, but with consistency, it does happen! An important discussion I have with my class is that everyone is different and has different experiences. Just because you don’t know something that others do doesn’t mean you are “dumb”. It may be because you have not learned that yet, or haven’t been taught it in a way you understand. I always tell my students that if you don’t understand it the way I have explained, it is your job to let me know. It is my job to figure out a way to explain it differently.

Question, Question, Question leads to student growth

Questions, Questions, Questions

Getting the kids to explain which part they do not understand is not always easy. They tend to say “All of it”, or “I don’t know”. It is then that I have to question them more. The more I ask, the more I learn! Questioning along with close observation has worked wonders in my classroom. Identifying the struggle is never the same. I have to put on my detective hat and figure it out. If I can pinpoint the misunderstanding, I have a place to begin.

Identifying the Math Difficulty

I tend to do more observation than questioning in math. Below is what I ask and take note of to determine what a student is struggling with in math.

  • Which part confuses you? They can’t always explain the exact part, so I …
    • Do another problem, and after each step I ask if they understand before moving on to the next step.
    • Ask them to show me how they are solving the problem to see what step they are skipping, miscalculating, or not understanding.
      • Sometimes I have to think of different ways to explain it, or even get a student to explain it.

Identifying the Reading Struggle

When figuring out a struggle in reading, I tend to ask more questions. I often have to give students options to choose from because they cannot always find the words to express themselves.

  • Are the words too difficult to read?
    • I take note on which letter sounds are a struggle.
    • Do they know all the sounds, but don’t know how to manipulate, blend, or put syllables together?
      • Very rarely do I just tell the student the word. I work with them to decode and help with the sounds they don’t know. I teach them to try one vowel sound. If that doesn’t work, then try the other.
  • Do you understand what the questions are asking?
    • Who/What is the question about?
      • highlight the word(s)
    • What are they asking you about the subject of the question?
      • highlight the word(s)
    • Do you understand what all the words mean in the question and answer choices?
      • Use a dictionary to help.
  • Is it difficult to find text evidence to support your answer? What makes it difficult?
    • Some students say there is too many words to look at.
      • I give them a tracker to focus on one line at a time.
    • Others say they don’t know how.
      • I teach them to use the words we highlighted in the question and “skim and scan” to find the right place in the text.
  • Do you understand the story/text when you read?
    • Do you know the meaning of all the words you just read?
      • Teach them to look at pictures, context clues, what is happening. I also have many great discussions in my small group based on unknown words.
    • Do you think about what you are reading, or are you just saying the words?
      • reteach them to visualize, make connections, make predictions, etc… You may have to stop at the end of every sentence at first, then move to after every paragraph. Ask students to share their thinking. Encourage students to share something that hasn’t been said. We can all think differently. Share what type of thinking you are doing also.
      • Are they adhering to punctuation? Many times I find students are reading way too fast! They are just word calling and not thinking. Remind them to pause at punctuation and use correct inflection in their voices.

I guide my instruction based on the answers they give me and what I notice. Each student needs something different. I have to monitor and adjust to meet them where they are and help them understand. What works for one student, may not work for another.


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