In a book that promises to lay out a plan that helps teachers close gaps in small group instruction, I found myself hoping that Ms, Rollins could do just that, knowing that my focus this school year would be p instructional strategies that truly makes a difference. “Learning in the Fast Lane: 8 Ways to Put All Students on the Road to Academic Success” may be my action plan to do just that.
Ms. Rollins discusses the notion that students who need remedial instruction are typically working on skills that close the “gaps” from previous years, vs focusing in on skills & concepts that could help them be successful in class that day.
“Rather than build students academic futures, remediation pounds away at the past.”
She first discusses the term acceleration, to be used as an academic advancement vs remediation. Helping students become successful on what is being covered this week, this class, in order to help them be successful. Instead of removing the student and making them learn something they missed however many years ago, it prepares them to be successful NOW. I love the line “Reverse movement at a tedious pace with little relevance to today’s’ standard will not catch students up to their peers.”
She then lists other strategies that teachers can utilize to help get all students, not just those who are at risk, learn material & concepts taught the first time.
Having standards walls: Listing standards with no connection to relevance or lets students know the expectation from the daily lesson. (Interesting tie in here to the Fundamental 5, which I believe does a much better job with its framing the lesson than just simply posting lesson standards.) She gives three easy to use components to help make these standards listed as a gigantic “you are here” arrow for students.
Success Starters: (which, as a Pirate would say, an effective HOOK!) She suggests activities that involve active engagement rather than just compliance. Like role-playing, surveys, or making predictions…there are several detailed suggestion in this chapter.
Formative Assessment & Feedback: Frequent ungraded feedback helps students focus on what they are learning versus measuring what they’ve learned. Formative assessment gives students timely feedback allows the teachers to modify immediately their instruction. If we want students meeting our learning goals each and every day, waiting once every two weeks to asses and give feedback won’t cut it. Note: formative assessment isn’t about testing more, it’s about about knowing exactly where each student stands on the material being presented.
Vocabulary Development: An inadequate vocabulary can make it difficult for students, especially struggling learners, to have any kind of conversation about content. Vocab touches every single aspect of a student’s’ development. She also suggests that learning new vocabulary isn’t as simple as prescribing MORE reading. She cites a study (pg. 79) that students need multiple exposures of a word to be able to grasp, retain, and use them. Her offering is that there should be a strategic vocabulary plan. KNowing that a strong vocabulary knowledge leads to reading proficiency, there are several ways shared that can help make this happen in your classroom.
Student Work Sessions: Giving Students Greater Responsibility with Valuable Work All students need the opportunity to collaborate, be creative, and have collegial relationships with teachers.
Student Motivation The buzz word of the day is student choice and student voice, with good reason. There has to be a reason for a student to WANT to learn before its going to happen. And you’re going to have to WORK to find that reason! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be dealing with the academic apathy that you may have in your classroom.
Just in time Scaffolding: Knowing what your students needs right when they need it, versus trying to cover years worth of gaps just makes good sense. This chapter gives research and a common sense plan on how to make that a reality.
There are checklists after each chapter that help you discern where your room stands with each of these ideas. If you’re looking for a way to do things a little differently, I think you’ll enjoy this book! It’s an easy practical read, and she completely supports each of these strategy with examples and “how to’s” that you can make happen. Plus, who doesn’t like living in the “fast lane” every once in a while?? 🙂
pedal to the metal,