Redefining self-pacing

by Jill Brown

OK. Here is what I learned about fifth graders and self-pacing. You can’t let them self-pace too far beyond a week without specific criteria and even then it gets a little tricky. It’s like a kid in a candy shop who goes from display to display sampling all the “goodies” and mom is fussing at him from across the store, while digging in her purse trying to find the credit card and at the same time holding onto the 2 year old who is throwing a fit because he wants to sample too. See the image? Well, let’s just say I saw the writing on the wall and I decided to make some changes. I’m going limit their self pacing to a bag instead of the store.

The Changes:

  • I’m going to use my pre-assessments to build weekly parameters. Those parameters will take the form of “I can” statements that will be divided into weekly goals.
  • The content of the screencasts will be centered around those “I Can” statements.
  • In class, all activities and assignments will be designed around the “I Can” statements.
  • At the beginning of the week the students will be given the “I Can” statements to be mastered by the end of the week.
  • There will be specific assignments and activities for each day that correlate to the “I Can” statements.
  • On Friday, they will take the quiz.

Now, the pace at which they finished the screencasts for the week and the assignments will be up to each student, but it will have to be completed by Friday.

What hasn’t Changed:

  • The “lecture” will still take place at home and practice at school, but the pace will be weekly instead of by unit.
  • I will still walk around the room clarifying and coaching,working with small groups, and 1:1, but with only a weeks content to manage.
  • The students will still work independently, collaboratively and cooperatively, but not beyond the weeks content.
  • Enrichment will still be provided for those students who master the content before weeks end.
  • Quizzes and tests retakes will still be the norm.

So, I implemented some of the changes this week. How did they do? Great! It was a smooth transition. I have to remember that they are only ten years old and well, some hand holding is going to be needed. Below is the class data on the assessment. It looks like I’m going to have to do some small group instructions on number 3 (adjacent and vertical angles) and create a screencast and practice activity that specifically addresses number 4 (reflexive angles).

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