September 10, 2017

Learning Skills

One of my classes is for students with significant learning disabilities. There are eight students, two in each grade level. They are beyond basic math but not yet ready for Algebra 1, which is a broad range! Only one has passed state test so it seems reasonable to let that guide my choice of topics (not to teach to the test, but given the entirety of mathematics to choose from I need something to help narrow my focus). The standards still span from 5th to 10th grade in four very broad categories. I'm certainly not going to teach a purely test prep class but I also can't be developing a complete curriculum. The last time I taught this course (several years ago) I pulled from a few sources but it was still quite haphazard. This year I want to pick one curriculum and follow it. Anything I use will still need careful modification to fit a class of eight with unique learning needs but I'd much rather have something to start with than to be constantly searching my files for new ideas. I liked Bridge to Algebra and Transition to Algebra but found both to be language heavy for students with disabilities and ELL's (a couple students fall in both categories).

We played four fours on the first day. Everyone has heard of the order of operations but relied on calculators to do computations. [Side note: I need to get a better set of calculators, I currently have the ones where you can't see what you typed as soon as you hit the next button, I'll ask around and see who I can trade with.] For a bit of continuity I plan to do some order of operations work tomorrow too and then see what happens if I offer some word problems with tape diagrams. If that handout goes okay I'm thinking about trying the 8th grade IM curriculum. I will check with my co-teacher, their IEP goals and the program head to see if 8th grade is a reasonable starting point.

We'll play How Many as our daily opener and find some other games for the end of class. This will allow us to focus on skills they need from before 8th grade and break up our 90 minute blocks.

I love when blogging helps me to make a plan. I feel much better about this class now. Of course, this all depends on a lot of factors working out, but at least I have a plan A to try! If you're using 8th grade IM with students with disabilities and it works out for us I'd love to find a way to share modifications.

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