How can a teacher teach an entire class and address all the individual learning needs? How can they help students at different academic levels? How can all the students get one-on-one instruction?
I am glad you asked! At Byron Center Christian, we recognize the importance of fostering strong reading and writing skills in our students. Teachers and staff use specific instructional methods called reading and writing workshop to accomplish this goal. The pictures below show this in action and the following paragraph describes how it works (and answers the initial questions).
In a workshop block, teachers will give a mini-lesson on the particular topic or skill (i.e. poetry, a new reading strategy, spelling, five paragraph essay, etc.) and then allow students to break into individuals or groups. From there, students actually apply what the lesson was on (i.e. writing a poem, trying the reading strategy, spelling practice, typing an essay, etc.). The teacher is then free to conference (or help) students on an individual basis to make sure everyone has a strong understanding of what is being taught. This also allows the teacher the ability to challenge high performing students and assist students that have not yet grasped the particular concept. Following the work-time, teachers can have the students share their work with the class or can summarize and review what was taught. While this is not how instruction always happens, workshops are a powerful tool for almost any subject.
This practice seems simple, but it takes careful planning and a strong knowledge of and relationship with each student to ensure success. We are able to use these instructional methods to teach to the group and to the individual student. We are also able to address the individual academic needs of our students so each child is able to succeed. While no teacher or classroom is perfect, we are blessed with amazing teachers who want to help each student grow!