The Reteaching Tightrope

So, the 70-70 trial has reached it’s first needed reteach session. (I explain the 70-70 trial here.)

Only, here’s the thing: Not every class who needs to explore a topic for the second time in the same situation. As part of my data collection for this trial, I am exploring the mean of the top 10 scores of each class as well as the scores of the bottom 10 scores on each individual assessment. I am doing this with two classes. One had a Top10-Bottom10 gap of 46.1 percentage points. The other class had a gap of 33.6 percentage points.

My reason for exploring this gap is that if a group is struggling to meet the 70-at-70 line, I want to know if where the mastery of those who understand the material compares to the mastery of the students who are struggling.

If there’s a lot of mastery among the top performers and a very low amount of mastery among the lowest performers, then the reteaching session becomes a little bit tricky because a large chunk of the class fits into two categories: Those who get it really well and those who don’t get it very well. Both of those groups are naturally resistant to reteaching. One because it is completely unnecessary and the other because it is completely uncomfortable.

All of which makes for a very delicate classroom management strategy for that hour, which I didn’t have today. I should have seen it coming. The successful students were not inspired to support the struggling students, and in fact (a few of them) blamed the struggling students for what they considered to be a meaningless class period.  The struggling seemed uncomfortable. I kept forcing them to do work they didn’t know how to do.

The class where the high achievers weren’t quite as high and the lower achievers weren’t as low took to the reteaching much, much better. The second try, the gap closed to 28.8 percentage points, with the average of the top 10 scores being over 90%. It seems like that class had a stronger sense that they all had something to gain from the extra learning time…

… as opposed to the other group where the majority felt like they had nothing to gain.

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2 thoughts on “The Reteaching Tightrope

  1. Might it not help to have differentiated tasks in that case? For example the students who have a strong grasp on the material could be given applications or extensions through investigations and unfamiliar problems (to use the language of the wonderful IB MYP that I teach) that will stretch their learning and push them to a deeper or new understanding. These students could be self-guided in groups while you do a basics review with the others to clear up the underlying misconceptions preventing them from mastery.

  2. I really like your plan. I’m wondering why I didn’t ever consider an extension activity. It seems like it would need to be an regular part of the plan because I can see this being an issue in most classes with most of the content.

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