Sunday, November 11, 2007

School Reform To Really Leave No Child Behind

I posted this over at One Utah in a post about the fall of vouchers and what comes next. If we don't come up with some ideas (and likely, even if we do) vouchers will be back.

Of course we want to privatize public education! It works so well with health care. A few people are getting really rich and the rest of us are out of luck. Lets do that to our kids too!

Here’s my suggestion (besides smaller class sizes and paying teachers more)… There is a charter school near me that is grouping kids into “pods” for various subjects. If a student excels at reading but is struggling in math, the “pod” they are in for reading will include other students who also do well in reading, and their math “pod” will be with other children of a similar ability so that the teacher can focus on the needs of that group of students instead of trying to teach to everyone and leaving some students bored and some confused.

I think that implementing this type of ability grouping would require smaller class sizes, or at least some teaching assistants so that classes can be mixed and broken down into small groups of children.

As children master a concept as a group, the group can advance, as children master concepts individually, they can move throughout the different groups as needed. No on gets lost in the classroom, and no one sits bored because they have already mastered what is being taught.

It will be interesting to watch test scores at this particular charter school over the next few years.

1 comment:

q said...

A public middle school that I attended in WI had a somewhat similar setup:

There were three classes per "house", with each classroom connected to the others by way a common opening in the center. Grades 6 thru 8 were comingled with one another, and you would have the same 'homeroom' teacher throughout the three years.

There would be a few 'homeroom' activities, with history/social studies taught in parallel, but for subjects such as reading/writing, mathematics, and science, there would be pre-tests at the beginning of the year that determined which room you would start in during a particular subject, with each teacher (and maybe a couple assistants) in a house teaching a different level (I, II, III). Moving in-between the levels was fluid, so if you started a level I, but were quickly zipping by the others, you would be bumped to level II in another room.

Perhaps surprisingly, I never witnessed students making fun of those who dropped in a level, or of the maybe lone 8th grader who was in level 1 of some subject. Then again, it was common for a student to be proficient in one area, but maybe less so in another.

Music, home economics, wood shoppe, art, foreign language, and sex education (we even had coed sex ed, the horror!) were with specialty teachers in different classrooms.

Looking back, it was a rather ingenius system, and I enjoyed my experience at the school; there was not alot of pressure and it was easy to get help when needed.