Looking ahead to next year: options for classwork for first grader reading above a fourth grade level - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 07-27-2010, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To begin with...I am of the opinion that DD needs "more" in various subjects, not just reading. However, she has not been tested yet (long story there) and her math abilities are not as obvious. Her reading abilities, however, are both very obvious and acknowledged by the school. So...we're going to start there, YK?

She is going into first. As of now, she is able to read books at the 4th grade level aloud flawlessly and with expression and excellent comprehension; when we get to the 5th grade-7th grade level, she is more at an instructional level, with some mispronunciations (often she has a good idea what the word means). She tends to read more at the 3rd/4th level for pleasure, but sometimes will read independently at more of a 5th-7th grade level if she enjoys the book. So I guess I'd say she is 4th grade level +.

Her writing is also advanced, but I would say more like 2nd grade level. She spells really well and writes complex sentences, but tires fairly fast and does not punctuate very well yet. The writing seems like less of an issue to me, since she can just write more for assignments (am I wrong?) and will tend to do so anyway.

I think they are willing to do some accommodations but would like some suggestions on what to do with her. If I come in with ideas, preferably ideas that are easy to implement, that would help. Her class is very small (13 kids). I am not sure if they do Accelerated Reader or not. I would like to hear from people who have BTDT.

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#2 of 26 Old 07-27-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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To clarify, a trained teacher with a class of *13* is looking to the parent for curriculum support and ideas?

IME with my two verbally/LA advanced kids, they really didn't need a whole lot of LA instruction. I wonder if the teacher would look at project-based learning. When we were homeschooling we did a lot of that as it can integrate a lot of curriculum areas and allow a balance between guided instruction and child-directed learning. In a class of 13 this should be easy to administer and it's pedagogically sound.

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#3 of 26 Old 07-27-2010, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes...well...you might think the small class size would help, but last year, it didn't seem to. This year could be different, but I don't know.

DD is very self-directed and should be easy to let loose on something if given just the basic idea. Last year she was happily doing book reports on her own (this was about what we got in terms of enrichment, but it was something). I need to Google project-based learning, as I don't know what it is.

To clarify, I don't actually think she needs instruction, per se, but I would like for her to be engaged and mentally active during class reading instruction time.

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#4 of 26 Old 07-27-2010, 06:49 PM
 
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I would check the educator's guild at www.davidsongifted.org They offer prepared lesson plans for gifted kids for teachers to use. They will also offer support for teachers looking to differentiate for gifted kids. For example, they can give your teacher a list of harder books that will still contain the same theme or literary element the teacher wants to cover with the class. That way your child can read something at a level that is interesting and perhaps still participate to some degree. The also have lots of webquest like activities she could do on the site.
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#5 of 26 Old 07-27-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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I can't really help with 1st grade specifically. My DD moved into 1st mid-year from kindie and so spent the rest of 1st grade just getting used to the older grade and routine. DS moved into a language immersion school for 1st grade so the challenge was learning a new language. However, I can share some things that helped in 2nd and beyond.

-Individualized spelling lists with pretested words (more emphasis on vocab building as opposed to spelling.
-Book reports as opposed to phonics sheets where the child could choose their own material.
-Open-ended writing assignments where child was free to write at their level. Held to appropriate grammar standards.
-Math has always been handled with either in-class or small group subject acceleration.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#6 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 05:53 AM
 
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I've been lurking in here lately again, wondering these exact same issues. Your daughter is roughly the same age and at the same level as mine. Yours is probably a slightly better reader, but otherwise they sound very similar. Mine has been doing second grade math, reading fourth grade level books, keeping a daily journal (which she hates--it's not hard for her, but she finds it very boring to write thoughts and ideas, preferring music and science and reading), and learning a foreign language this summer. She is also making great progress with the musical instrument she started last year. I honestly didn't know she was talented at this as well, because I know nothing about music, but we are living outside the country this summer and have a different teacher, and he has stressed repeatedly and with amazement how driven to learn new material and how talented she is. And he is supposed to be very strict.

In a month, she starts first grade. She's almost seven. I want to skip her, because even though the teacher and school are good, there is not a lot of will to provide challenging material to individual students. The school believes its own hype about clustering the students at their ability levels, even though it is not always possible or a policy that they follow through on. But she will be heartbroken if she skips a grade, because her friends are going to be in the classroom with her next year, and for reasons too long to go into, I want her to be comfortable socially. That's the single biggest priority.

Long preamble. What I have decided is to continue to supplement with extracurricular activities. Music is great, because she has individual instruction and can work at her own pace. She will devote hours in a day to mastering a challenge there. She also has private language instruction. That was initially a practical thing, because we live outside the States in the summers, but it's good for her brain to learn to read and write something besides English. Are you doing any of that?
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#7 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 06:02 AM
 
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I just read your thread title again. I guess I was more struck with the similarities in our situation than with the specifics, but the bottom line is, I don't know what to do about the classroom. I keep hoping that either my daughter will demonstrate such profound ability in a single area that it is recognized (that's happened with reading, but we got an ambivalent response, as in "kids level off by third grade) or that she'll become intrinsically motivated enough to seek her own academic challenges. I don't think the school or teacher will respond well to specific suggestions. So I going to keep reading this thread and see what others advice.
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#8 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 10:45 AM
 
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I have no idea what the other kids were getting in first (and second for that matter), but my daughter got almost no reading instruction for those two years. We started sending in a canvas bag of appropriate reading material at the start of every week, and that's what she'd read during reading time. It meant that she had appropriate materials, and kept her from having to re-read Horrible Harry for the 10000th time.

What I don't like about it was that she didn't get much free choice in reading material, nor did she have anything but my and the public library's children's librarian's input into what she read. The result was that she read a lot of books I think she'd like, but not much of a wider horizon than that.

I included a variety of novels, but also several math books (Number Devil, the Sir Cumference series, the PowerMath series), history and historical fiction (e.g. Dear America).
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#9 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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She attends an arts school that spends a lot of time on music, dance, art and drama--with the exception of art, these are not areas of talent for her, so she does get to do things that engage and stretch her there. That's a strong point of the school. I have considered an instrument, but they do learn an instrument at school in group instruction. She is obsessed with swimming (not talented, just obsessed) and I think we are going to try to keep her in lessons as much as we can, although it is a major PITA for us. She has also asked for art lessons. I need to look into that. So yes, we do look to some outside stuff for challenge. However, she had some major complaints about the in-class work last year.

I will send her with a bag of books if that's all they can do. She would be fine with that, though it does kind of seem like a cop-out.

Quote:
-Individualized spelling lists with pretested words (more emphasis on vocab building as opposed to spelling.
-Book reports as opposed to phonics sheets where the child could choose their own material.
These are helpful ideas--thanks.

DD is intrinsically motivated, but she still needs support and instruction to some extent, especially in math. That's a whole other subject, because the school believes her to be on level in math.

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#10 of 26 Old 07-28-2010, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had her read a book with some great vocab aloud to me today (have to love that Bill Peet!) and we wrote down and talked about the words that were not familiar to her ("potent" and "torturous" are the ones I remember) and made a list of "Cool New Words." She was totally into this and it seems very appropriate for where she is. Not sure if I can find a way to make something like this happen at school.

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#11 of 26 Old 07-29-2010, 04:18 AM
 
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If you can find a way to make this (vocab lists) happen at school, please post back here and let us know what strategy you used.

Last year, in my daughter's kindergarten class, the teacher and I worked together for a while and made sheets of comprehension questions and vocabulary words for my daughter's independent reading. But the teacher got fatigued. She just doesn't have the time to devote so much energy to one kid's reading. My daughter isn't that intrinsically motivated, so when that happened, she lost interest herself, and she went from being very enthusiastic about these worksheets to completely uninterested. (At least I assume that's the reason she lost interest, though it could be also that the minute the novelty wore off writing answers to questions she realized that she hates to write.)

It's frustrating. I know my daughter is bored in school a lot of the time, and I wonder what it's going to be like now that the whole day is devoted to academics (as opposed to playtime).
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#12 of 26 Old 07-29-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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If you look at how reading levels are measured in elementary schools, it is not just "reading" they are testing but more complicated things - like identifying the plot and some complicated stuff.

My son can "read" Harry Potter, but on the reading test (guided reading level) he comes out at a level closer to his actual grade. I think he scored an "O" most recently, which is 3rd grade.

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#13 of 26 Old 07-29-2010, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not sure what your point is, SleeplessMommy--that I shouldn't worry? That I am wrong about her reading level? I'm well aware that reading level is about more than word decoding, and I'm pretty confident in my opinion. I'm more likely underestimating, TBH. She was sent to first grade for reading in K and we were told the highest reading group could not accommodate her ("she reads too fast for them and they can't keep up"), so I already know that regular in-class work is not going to be adequate.

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#14 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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My son just finished first grade and he was in a similar situation. They have accelerated reader program at his school, so he spent a good deal of time reading extra books for that. They also had additional bonus spelling words on their weekly tests, as well as vocabulary tests. The teacher gave all the kids the regular and bonus lists, and they could choose to study/take them if they wanted.
His class also had computer programs for math that the kids could work on at their own level. In addition, I sent in my worksheets for his work folder. If they were working on addition, I would send in addition with carrying, etc. There are lots of free worksheets on the web or you can make up your own.
Good luck.
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#15 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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My dd is similar to yours and we had classroom implementation issues with her K class even after the teacher and I did a gifted IEP. It was just not possible for the teacher to do separate curriculum for dd. She gave dd the 1st grade homework instead of K and sent her to the 1st grade classroom for reading time. Even that was too easy and boring for dd. She did like the spelling tests and learned quite a bit from that. We changed to a free public charter school for 1st and that was definitely better. The teacher was a gifted student himself so had some good ideas (dd was able to write and illustrate stories whenever she wanted). DD was not bored and really likes her school. But, even with ability clusters, she was in the highest math group for 2nd grade and ahead of everyone on the computer reading game they used. So for next year, instead of staying with the same teacher/class (it is a 1/2 blend), we asked for a skip to the 3/4/5 grade blend. Her report card clearly showed that she had mastered the 2nd grade benchmarks, so why make her do it again? Luckily the teachers and administrators were open to our request. So I am feeling better about next year since the more advanced materials will be readily available.

I think it has to be easy for the teacher and motivating for the student in order to work. Having an ongoing relationship with the teacher will help. Can you get a standard once-a-week meeting or agree to email about expectations? Do you have specific goals for your dd? If so, I would write those out for the teacher. I agree with sending your own materials, if they can't get higher level books, worksheets or homework for her. See if they can offer options like book reports or dioramas so your dd can take it to the next level, since she is beyond just sounding out the words and getting the meaning of the sentences. Also exercises like writing additional dialogue for characters, drawing pictures of what could have happened after the end of the story, doing more than the worksheet asks for (underline all the 5-letter words, circle all the words starting with a certain letter, etc.) Can she do any pull-outs? I don't really like pull-outs for single subjects, but sometimes it is all you can get. Also, plenty of enrichment at home helped dd to still enjoy learning new things.

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#16 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 05:26 PM
 
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I'm just thrilled to see a class with 13 kids!!! Our first grade classrooms have 40 kids.

I'm of no help... just wanted to say something about the class size.
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#17 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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I know, that class size is phenomenal! That should help the OPs dd get some individual attention, hopefully.

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#18 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 06:06 PM
 
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Class sizes and their impact have been debated a lot recently where I live as some are touting reducing class sizes as a panacea for all problems stemming from heterogeneity (including second language learners) and parents clamour for it. A study has revealed though that it makes no difference whatsoever if the teacher isn't flexible enough not to use the time freed up for individual attention, but still tries to teach to one standard. And it is a very expensive measure as opposed to more teacher training in appropriate differentiation or having occasional assistants for individual grouping. You'd feel that with 13 kids they really have no excuse any more, but apparently it all comes down to the teacher, as usual...

This is not to say that 40 is an acceptable class size - anything more than 30, and I imagine the stress and noise level for both teachers and children goes through the roof! I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.

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#19 of 26 Old 08-06-2010, 12:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
Not sure what your point is, SleeplessMommy--that I shouldn't worry? That I am wrong about her reading level? I'm well aware that reading level is about more than word decoding, and I'm pretty confident in my opinion. I'm more likely underestimating, TBH. She was sent to first grade for reading in K and we were told the highest reading group could not accommodate her ("she reads too fast for them and they can't keep up"), so I already know that regular in-class work is not going to be adequate.
I think (and I could be way off) that SleeplessMommy's point was that maybe they could help her with those "other" things in the classroom vs. the phonics, etc. they help kids her age with. Since her age level is not really addressing plot, etc. your dd probably hasn't been exposed to that aspect of reading... and maybe she's ready for that.

On the flip side, maybe she's not. My son is EXACTLY the same levels (of everything) that yours is. In fact, his decoding is college level and he tested at "at least" 4th grade comprehension last year at K age. So I get what you're saying. But I know that if I tried to introduce the idea of plot, theme, etc. I'm not sure he'd "get" it. He's not really the most mature 6yo. I don't know... MAYBE he'd get it. I remember in my psych classes and in my graduate ed classes that 7 was a "magic" age where the kids got a new kind of maturity and understanding of the world. I don't know if my kid (who will be 7 in Jan) is on the early side of that threshold or the far side... and that may be needed to understand those more complex topics.

But maybe your child IS "there" and COULD understand those things--if she had a teacher capable of understanding how to teach them to a younger child. A 1st grade teacher isn't accustomed to teaching those topics and a 4th grade teacher is accustomed to teaching them to older kids who have a different maturity level and frame of reference.

If you can't find a way for them to teach these things to her so that she's challenged, maybe you could just get them to engage her in ANYthing during reading time (even if not LA/reading related) and you could try to compensate for it at home.

We're homeschooling, but I'm getting great ideas on this thread for my own ds. As it stands, I've done pretty much nothing instructional with him on this stuff... which is not good.

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#20 of 26 Old 08-06-2010, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are really loving doing our New Words list. I was sort of surprised that DD took to this, since I have always told her that she can come ask us if she runs across a word she didn't know, and she never did. Now that we have a list on her closet door, though, she is all about it. Huh. Anyway, if this is all she gets in school it won't be too bad, even. I mainly want to see her expanding her vocabulary at this point.

Quote:
But I know that if I tried to introduce the idea of plot, theme, etc. I'm not sure he'd "get" it. He's not really the most mature 6yo. I don't know... MAYBE he'd get it.
Mine is not the most mature, either. I know sometimes themes go over her head, in part because she just does not have the life experience. However, she is very good at understanding the emotions of characters. It wouldn't be right to teach these concepts like you would to a 4th grader, probably, but I think she could do well with a basic introduction to them.

Quote:
Do you have specific goals for your dd? If so, I would write those out for the teacher. I agree with sending your own materials, if they can't get higher level books, worksheets or homework for her. See if they can offer options like book reports or dioramas so your dd can take it to the next level, since she is beyond just sounding out the words and getting the meaning of the sentences. Also exercises like writing additional dialogue for characters, drawing pictures of what could have happened after the end of the story, doing more than the worksheet asks for
These are all good ideas--thank you! She did book reports last year in K--that was a very easy thing for the teacher to do.

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#21 of 26 Old 08-12-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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Just popping back in looking for ideas myself and preparing myself to make another round of appointments at dd's school. I have just found out from a resource teacher at her school that they do NOT in fact mix the kids from 1st and 2nd in reading groups (or anything else) although we had been assured that dd would be fine because she's going into a 1st/2nd combination year (6 classes), but apparently they don't even mix math and reading groups across the first grades or within the classroom (1st/2nd).

I'm so hoping she gets a really good teacher who can effectively differentiate...
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#22 of 26 Old 08-12-2010, 06:44 PM
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I'd skip her a grade:

www.nationdeceived.org

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#23 of 26 Old 08-12-2010, 07:30 PM
 
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I'd skip her a grade:

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That may be a good idea, but I'd definitely pursue some testing if you are considering that. I'd want to ensure that she is a few grades above level in pretty much everything before I'd skip.

From my recall, first grade spent way too much time on teaching kids how to read fluently. I'd see if there is a possibility of subject acceleration -- send her to 2nd for language arts especially since you mention her writing being advanced as well. Dd11 subject accelerated for language arts before she skipped a grade and both worked well for her.
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#24 of 26 Old 08-12-2010, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Grade skipping is not a good option for her and would never be supported by her school anyway...

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#25 of 26 Old 08-13-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ChristaN View Post

From my recall, first grade spent way too much time on teaching kids how to read fluently. I'd see if there is a possibility of subject acceleration -- send her to 2nd for language arts especially since you mention her writing being advanced as well. Dd11 subject accelerated for language arts before she skipped a grade and both worked well for her.
This. Much of grade one is devoted to teaching the kids to read - so I think it might be a bit of a boring year for her. I think it is easier to differentiate in the higher years. Sending her to a higher grade for LA might help a bit. I would absolutely send her to class with numerous books she chooses from the library/home. I would also ensure that she can read those books (or do other things) when she is finished her work and waiting for the rest of the class. Some teachers want kids to just sit there while the others finnish their work, and some don't. Ensure you have the sort of teacher that allows kids to do other non-disruptive things while waiting.
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#26 of 26 Old 08-21-2010, 01:43 PM
 
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This has been super interesting to read. I don't know if DS is gifted. I"m not even sure how to measure that to be honest and I don't think our school has either testing or gifted classes so I'm not sure there would be any point. I do know DS is going into 2nd grade and reading way above grade level. He can read Harry Potter easily and could probably read articles in the Economist though he comes back with a million questions about concepts he doesn't understand ("Mom, what's inflation?"). He's above grade level in math though I'm not sure how high. He was bored silly last year. His class had only 18 kids, btw, but an uninspired teacher and little differentiation.

We are trying in him normal 2nd grade this year but we've talked to the principal about getting a more appropriate teacher. We're also going to be a lot more pro-active about being sure he's getting appropriate work. I'd consider skipping him, but I don't know what anyone else thinks of that idea, including either DS or DH. He's already the youngest in his grade.

Anyway, the concrete ideas here are super helpful. I might try that Cool New Words idea and see what he thinks. I don't want another year of sheer boredom. That's not what school is supposed to be about.
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