In my head, I wanted my resource class to be completely differentiated so that each student was working at their own pace... easier said that done - I had never taught a resource class, I had different grade and ability levels... some days were chaos (at least to me, many have observed me and loved what they saw). Last semester we did TONS of fun projects and activities, but we all worked at the same pace. Some finished faster than others and then became disruptive... that bothered me. Yes, I know there are ways to fill in time, and other activities that can be done, but something was always slightly wrong with each situation. I also noticed how needy my students were, and I let them run the show just a bit too much.
As the semester changed over, it seemed like the perfect time to switch things up! First day of the new semester I implemented a new "Sweet rewards" plan of action. The concept is simple. The students have a list of activities they need to work through. They can work through the activities at their own pace and as they finish them, I sign off that they completed the task. As students are working on various activities, I am free to work with them as they struggle with different concepts.
|Click on the above picture to download this FREEBIE now!|
There's a kicker though... remember how I said my students were needy and disruptive? Enter part two of the Sweet Reward tracking system - the behavior sticker! Yes, I know, you wouldn't think a sticker would do very much, especially for my 8th graders, but it isn't so much the behavior sticker they are working for, it's what the sticker means. I'll get to that in a minute. For now, let's talk about the sticker. Students earn a sticker at the end of class if they have been working - ON TASK - for the class period. Each student can have one warning without losing their sticker for the day - if I speak to them about their behavior a second time, they lose their sticker. The last 5-ish minutes of class, I make sure to make contact with each student (I only have 10 kiddos in any class) to see where they progressed to and reward them with their behavior sticker.
|This is the sticker tracking page.|
Each sticker resembles a gum ball.
I put 47 placeholders in. 45 for each day of the
semester and 2 for (wishful thinking) possible snow days.
(Aren't those glass jars the cutest?!
Check out Ashley Hughes on TpT! She has some of my favorite clip art!)
|This is the assignment tracking page. |
There is a small spot for my signature/initials once completed.
So what does a typical day in my class now look like? Well, 5 days into the semester, each student has fallen into a pace that works for them. At the beginning of class each student comes into the room and grabs their folder. Then they pick up where they left off the day before. If it's a Monday, they write down the new activities on the list. I have a specific area that has been devoted to picking up all the activities. Everything is laid out neatly and students can easily grab what they need. When they finish an activity, they show it to me, I check it and approve what has been done (or we chat about how they can fix things). Then they pick up their new activity, I explain to them what they need to do with it and they go to work. I work with students on different activities throughout the class. Then, at the end of class we have a 5 minute clean up and reflect on our day session. I am able to meet with each student to see how they are pacing themselves and award the sticker for behavior....
OH yes, the sticker!
So, the buy in for this activity is HUGE! My kiddos LOVE computer lab time. So, now in order to earn computer lab time, they must have 4 stickers (one for each day of the week other than lab day) and have completed a specific amount of the list (this amount, unbeknownst to the kiddos, is different for each student). If they haven't met their goal, they continue working instead of using the computer to play math games.
Because I only have 10 kiddos in each class I can make these folders and activities incredibly differentiated. As students are working, I can work with individuals and give them "their goal" for the week. We keep the goals between them and me and no one knows any different. Some activities are modified, some are truncated, some are just skipped. Also, I have two different round tables in the back of the room. I tend to sit at the round table with the kids that need the most help - they pretty much keep pace with each other and are able to ask me questions without it being obvious to the rest of the room.
So far, I have been extremely satisfied with how well this is working. My students have been very productive, misconceptions are being worked on, questions are still answered, behavior has been great, and the best part, is we're still having fun. We're just doing it in a way that works for each student. We aren't doing worksheets. We're doing sorts, matches, fill in the blanks, task cards, creating word problems, stuff that involves the students being engaged.
I don't want to say this will work forever. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Regardless, I will remain reflective and keep trying to make this resource class the best it can be for each student.
If you would like a copy of sweet rewards, click on the cover page above to download a free copy to use. In the copy there are two gumball machines - one with the dates of my quarter and one with blank gumballs for you to use.