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Five Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards

Teaching is pretty challenging!

Some students learn at an "average" pace. Other students need extra help to keep up, and then there are the students who already know everything you are expected to teach them!

We want these students to continue learning and stay motivated in the classroom. How can we do this, while we continue to meet the needs of the other students as well? 

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #1: Let them develop skills on a deeper level!

I always prefer to let more advanced students deepen skills rather than accelerating their learning onto a higher grade level's skills. Students need to feel like they belong, and if they're not studying what the others are studying, they feel excluded! This is a tough concept when they already know what you're teaching, but there are ways to work with it.
 
How do we do this? 
  • This is easiest to do with reading. If everyone in the class is working on biographies, they should also read a biography, but at a higher reading level. They can do a more challenging form of book summary or report.
  • If you're studying addition, have these children make problems for their classmates to solve. Or have them learn a game that practices the same skill, but at a deeper level. (Practice 4 digit addition rather than 2 digits!)
  • If you're studying Mexico have these students research something that's not in the district's curriculum, such as Mexico's history, or major exports of Mexico.
  • If you're studying figurative language, have these children find figurative language phrases to share with the class.
  • If you're studying the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, have these students research more information about the butterfly, such as migration or how fast they can fly.
  • Here's a resource I use based on second grade math requirements: Mystery Math Bundle

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #2: Let them learn by guessing!

I know, this sounds rather strange, but I call it the "Jeopardy method." (See this blog post: Do You Ever End Up Smarter After Watching Jeopardy?) Whenever you hear the answer (or on Jeopardy, I believe it's the question...) you get smarter! Having the children take an educated guess at some trivia helps them remember the information! 
 
Here are some resources that are perfect for your fast learners to learn by "guessing:"
 
5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #3: Let them work with another student at their level.

Just because they're smart and catch on easily doesn't mean they have to carry the load for a group that isn't functioning at the same academic level. (We know this can happen!) They do need some time with their equals who can challenge them and help them go above and beyond the status quo. Please, find opportunities for them to work with others at their level, even if it means finding students from other classrooms or even other grades who can work with them.
 
5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #4: Offer choice!

All students need and deserve choices! These quick learners need choices too! Most students make choices based on their strengths, interests, and passions! A student with an interest in writing would prefer to write a report on what they learned. A student with an interest in art would prefer to make a poster. A student with an interest in social studies might like to make a map. All students have preferences, not just the gifted and talented! Please respect these preferences, you'll get a whole lot more from your students if you do! 

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #5: Let them research something they love. 

As mentioned above, all students have strengths, interests, and passions. The best way to address the needs of all students is to work with these passions! These brighter students can research their passions! The acts of research will help them enrich their skills, and the ways they present what they've learned will strengthen more skills! It's a win-win!

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Here are a few blog posts also dedicated to this group of students:

 How do we keep them engaged?

How do we keep them engaged? Some children finish their daily work much faster than others. How can we keep them engaged without assigning "busy work?"

 Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards  

https://www.elementarymatters.com/2021/02/three-purposes-for-boom-learning.html

 

Twelve Reasons to use Boom Learning Digital Task Cards!   

Twelve Reasons to Use Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Do you want to make teaching easier for you and fun for the students? Here are 12 ways!

 But My Students Don't Know This Stuff!

Sometimes my students do activities where they are expected to answer questions, but they haven't been taught the content. How can this be valuable?

 Looking for ways to organize it all? Try this!

Organizing Literacy Centers

How do you organize your Literacy Centers? This post gives you ideas for organizing what the children do when you're teaching a group. Plus, there's a freebie! 

One last note:

As smart as these children are, they all have weaknesses as well! They may be ahead of the game with reading skills or math skills, but like all of us, they have areas of need. Please pay close attention to the whole child and make sure they are developing academically as well as socially and emotionally.

 


 

How am I Doing?

Every "report card" time, kids will undoubtedly ask, "how am I doing?"

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

Of course, it's great that they care about their achievement, but seriously, they're in school every day doing the work. They're in class, participating and engaging in work all the time. So, shouldn't they already know how they're doing?

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!


What do you think? Yes, report cards are all about reporting to their parents. They have a right to know how their child is doing. They see the children through homework, encourage them to do well, and want to know about their child's successes! 

This post isn't about report cards and reporting to parents.

It's about giving feedback to the children every single day!

Brain research tells us that frequent feedback is essential to learning. 

A good place to start is making sure every child knows their strengths!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!
 
I believe in encouraging children every time you see them doing something right. It could be ANYTHING they do well. Here are some examples:
  • staying organized
  • smiling at classmates
  • participating in group discussions
  • greeting classmates when they arrive
  • positive attitude
  • listening
  • following directions
  • getting to work right away
  • following rules
  • working independently
  • staying focused
  • helping classmates
  • helping teacher 
  • putting forth effort
  • showing growth

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

In fact, this information should be made public. Everyone in the class should know who is good at knowing math facts, and who is good at following directions. All students should know who they can turn to for figuring out an unknown word, solving a math problem, where to find extra supplies, or sketching a cat for their journal. This is all part of the teamwork. And I'm sure you'll agree, all children have strengths!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

All children also have areas that need improvement, don't they? The only way they will improve in these areas is if they are aware of their weaknesses and put in the effort to improve them. I prefer to think of these as "skills the child is working on," rather than weaknesses. It's just a bit kinder!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

Although the whole world should know the strengths of your students, the opposite is most definitely NOT true!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

 

I schedule meetings with individuals every so often. How do I find the time? I meet with individuals instead of reading groups for a couple of days. (See THIS POST to see how I organize this!) I spend a few minutes with each child, and honestly, those few minutes make a world of difference and are totally worth missing a reading group or two!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

I use a 2-1-1 strategy! I start with 2 statements about what the child is doing well. These can be about ANYTHING the child is doing in school, as long as it's honest praise. (See THIS POST about giving honest feedback!) 

After the happy celebration, I mention (carefully) one thing the child needs to work on. They usually know, and agree they need to work on this. 

Wanting to leave the conversation with a positive note, I'll mention one more thing the child does well. This doesn't have to be academic, just a little something to keep the conversation upbeat. Quite often, it's something like, "I'm glad you're in my class!"

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

You've probably already spent a lot of time building relationships with your students, and these personal conversations should simply amplify these relationships. Of course, make sure it ends with a smile!

How do you keep the children informed about their progress?

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!



Seven Way to Be the Teacher They'll Remember

I'll bet you have a teacher you remember from your own education. If you're anything like me, you want to be that teacher for your own students. Here are some suggestions!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!

Get to know them individually!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
Each child has a special personality, special interests, and special families that love them. Getting to know all those parts to each child is no easy task. I find having a Morning Meeting sharing time helps getting to know them. I also have an end-of-the-day "High-Low" meeting (See THIS post and THIS post.) I also find that having private conversations, when possible, is also a great way to know them as individuals.
 

Let them get to know you!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
Tell stories about yourself and your loved ones when you can fit it in. I always share at Morning Meeting as well as High-Low. I also share connections that I have with books we read and things we are learning. They particularly love when I tell about my cat!

Let them know you care!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!

I never miss an opportunity to let them know that I care. If someone is absent, that's my low of the day. If someone arrives late for class, I'll stop everything and let them know how glad I am to have them there. If someone is upset or hurt, I make it clear that it upsets and hurts me as well.

You may have heard it said before: they won't learn anything from you unless they know you care!
 

Be their biggest cheerleader!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
Feedback is always important in the classroom. Most of the time, it should be positive. For some struggling students, that's not always easy, but I've found there's always something the child is doing well. Find that thing, and celebrate it! It doesn't even have to be academically related, but I'm sure there are plenty of those! Just a warning: not everyone wants to be singled out. Know these students, and be a private cheerleader for them. (Most students love getting notes celebrating their accomplishments!) This all reflects back to #1: Get to Know Each Child Individually!
 

Do fun things!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!

I'm sure you're already doing this one, along with most of the others! (Teachers who read educational blogs are always trying to make themselves better, agreed?) You probably already have a lot of tricks up your sleeve, but here are a few suggestions. 

  • Do STEM/ STEAM projects!
  • Play educational games!
  • Bring "Team Building" games into Morning Meeting. (Some ideas HERE!)
  • Include art projects and crafts!
  • Find a super fun way to present research projects!
  • Have them create puppets and put on shows!
  • Have an "Author's Night!"
  • Record and videotape educational activities! (Be careful who has access to this, of course!)
  • Do a class play!
This last suggestion is near and dear to my heart. Why? Well, not only because I enjoy performing in regional theatre myself, but also because of the excitement! Brain research tells us that memories are very much connected to emotions! (See THIS post for more information!) Whenever students come back to visit, they always mention the plays and performances we shared. Such a shared experience is also great for building teamwork and community! (Want some scripts? Try THESE, or if you want something curriculum related, try THIS!)

Keep a safe classroom!

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
We've all heard "Maslow's Before Blooms," and I truly believe this matters.
 
 Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
As classroom teachers, we probably won't be able to reach all these levels, but the very basic needs are essential before any learning is going to happen! If they don't feel healthy and safe (Physiological Needs and Safety Needs), we might as well just toss the curriculum out the window. That third level, Love and Belonging, is one we can work on as well! Again, Morning Meetings are great for building community and making each child feel like an important member of the classroom!

Be a role model

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!
This is more of a responsibility as much as a suggestion. If the children remember you, you want that memory to be inspiring. Some suggestions:
  • Let them see you getting emotional when you read books.
  • Let them see you making mistakes, and responding appropriately.
  • Talk about something that bothered you, and what you did about it.
  • Let them see you showing kindness and respect to the other students as well as other adults in the school.
  • Write thank you cards for gifts they give.
  • Let them see you taking care of your health. Talk about the exercising you do and the healthy food you prepare.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Talk about how you stay organized.
  • Let them see you doing things you don't necessarily want to do... with a smile.
  • Be positive, even when times are tough.
  • Always say please, thank you, and all those other magic words!
  • Think out loud. Let them know the reasons for your actions.
  • Show extra respect to all the extra helpers in the building: secretaries, custodians, kitchen workers, and assistants. Let the children see that you appreciate what they do for your students.

 

Seven Ways to Be the Teacher They'll Remember: Remember that special teacher from your childhood? Here are some ideas to help you be that special teacher for your students!

 

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