I use this professional blog for different reasons: sometimes it’s for reflection, sometimes it’s to share learning, and sometimes it’s to ask for advice. Today I’m asking for advice. While I primarily teach Grade 5, I also do two prep coverages a week: one for Grade 3/4 Media Literacy and one for Grade 3/4 Health. For both of these prep coverages, I’ve really tried to use inquiry and/or project-based learning (it tends to vary somewhat) to give students more control over their learning and to develop thinking skills. This has been a great experience, and the Grade 3/4 students seem eager to come and learn with me for 100 minutes each week. But now I have a problem: my last Health unit for this Grade 3/4 class is Growth and Development.
Here are the Grade 3 expectations …
and here are the Grade 4 expectations.
OPHEA has a wonderful resource for both of these grades, and I definitely plan on using the ideas shared. My problem is that many of these materials are blackline masters. They share important information, and I need the students to learn this information, but these worksheets will not work well for all students. I have students with varying needs, and I want to be able to address these needs.
Given any other unit, I would use the ideas from the resource as a starting point, and then move from there. I know though that there are components of this unit that can be more difficult/sensitive for some students, and I want to respect this. So do I just go with the worksheets and scribe for students that need it? Do I have students use assistive technology to help with reading and/or writing for the given activity pages? Do I use the information on the worksheets and try to create my own materials? What would you do and/or what have you done? I’m open to ideas and would welcome any suggestions! I’m reluctant to use the blackline masters and am hoping for another good choice.
It raises a good question – how do you mix inquiry with the needs of direct instruction and differentiation? I think there are ways to creatively combine all of these needs with some planning. What if you used some materials ( maybe some of the visual lessons from the OERB) specific to each grade, plus the expectations/learning goals to intro the topic to each grade level. While one group explores presented material, you can discuss LGs with the other grade group, then switch. After both groups have had both intros, have them in small groups/partners/on their own come up with some questions they would like to explore about the topic. Then, have them choose one to explore further with the caveat that they will have to present/share their learning in some way with their like grade classmates. For those that are sensitive to some of the material, they can choose a safer topic. Presenting/sharing w classmates could take a variety of forms, again to ease anxiety and best highlight learning of each student. Perhaps the worksheets could be one resource students could use to explore/research…or maybe not, if you/they can find richer sources of grade appropriate info.
I’m not a big fan of worksheets (not surprising, I’m sure!) but perhaps they need to be analyzed individually for their value to student learning. Are there some that may be helpful to them? Is there info in any of them or questions they ask that may be helpful? I haven’t seen them but I would want to look at them pretty critically to see if there is a meaningful role for them or are there other resources that may be better.
Not sure if that helps, but I would suggest a review of materials – both worksheets and other materials – to see what best meets student need. Then I would figure out a way to use them that may enhance DI, inquiry and student voice and choice, which may be thinking outside the traditional worksheet box.
Thank you so much, Kristi! I really appreciate you sharing your ideas here, and I absolutely LOVE your suggestions! I will definitely check out the OERB for some grade appropriate materials, and I’m going to look at the worksheets again. When I looked at them initially (and this was back in September), there were some good ideas, but the format definitely didn’t work for everyone. Maybe these worksheets could be resources though or provide some background reading material for students that need it. You’ve given me lots to think about … and I must admit, make me excited to think that there’s an option beyond just a blackline master!