How can I manage equity in a classroom filled to the brim with students of many ethnicities, learning abilities, and family backgrounds? This is overwhelming at best. Here are a few steps that are helping get me on the path toward equity.
- Who is participating most often?
- Who is participating least often?
- Do I call on certain students more than others?
- Are group task work shared equally? If not, why is this happening?
- Are students desks located in relation to race, gender, language, or learning ability?
- Are all students able to relate to tasks from their own personal experiences?
- Are math tasks engaging and rich?
- Is my homework benefiting my students?
I analyzed my answers and knew I needed to work on the following:
- Equal class participation.
- Group tasks being equally shared.
- Random seating.
- Establishing background knowledge for all students in the real life math tasks of the day.
- Change homework.
- Encouraging and acknowledging all students to share their abilities with their classmates.
1.Equity cards-(I use playing cards.) This is an easy way to have participation, questioning, seating of students, group roles, and partnerships established without bias.
- Questioning– Students can be called randomly from of stack of cards after questions or ideas have discussed in groups. Students can go back to their group if they don’t feel ready to share.
- Group work roles. Students are given an assigned job for tasks according to their card symbol. This is super fast, easy and fair.
- Partners-This is a quick way to assign partners in activities, for example today all spades and clubs will be partners in a table group.
- Seating-As students enter the room each week I give them a card, they will easily find their group and desk.
- Reporters- For example, today as we go around to all the table groups the diamonds will report out their results.
- Assign a student to…This works great if I want one team member to tell the rest of their group an explanation, repeat instructions, a definition, or if you need a table group member to clean up, go get, ect.
- This gives all students time to think about their thinking.
- This also allows my more introverted students time to get the courage to answer a question or share an idea.
- Holding high expectations-
- All children can learn, however it might need to be done in different ways.
- All students can participate, having their team ready to help and encourage. No one is “off the hook” to answer or participate in class.
- Acknowledging students for their individual contributions to their group work.
- Technology has a way of leveling the playing field for students. If for example we are doing a task about visiting a zoo, and only half of my students have actually visited a zoo, we can visit one online.
- Inquiry based tasks that are rich and engaging
- Project Based Learning -Previous post with PBL.
- Positive Group tasks– According to Stanford University, Complex Instruction is all about achieving equity in the classroom. The goal “is to provide academic access and success for all students in heterogeneous classrooms.”
- Low floor, high ceiling tasks where all students can feel successful. Entry points need to be possible for every student to start and possibilities for students to extend the task.
- Change homework
- Studies have shown that homework either doesn’t increase or negatively affects math achievement.
- Homework also could have a negative effect on the love of mathematics.
- After two months my students love getting a new seat every week.
- Some don’t “love” being randomly called on and some do, but it keeps all students on their toes.
- Everybody participates-it is not uncommon to go through my whole deck of cards in one class period. Which means every student has participated.
- Students love hearing their ideas shared with the class from their teacher as ” the great thinking of ___” or “super strategies from ___”, or ” _____ had great perseverance in ____”.
- Students are participating in their group tasks. They each have a role in their group work. Not perfect, but doing better.
- Since students aren’t with any group for very long so there isn’t the labeling on who is the “smart one” of the group. Everyone helps, everyone contributes, everyone learns.
- Wait time has been great, giving students opportunity to think and reflect is so important.
- Parents and students are grateful for the reflective homework that I have been assigning. More family time, game nights, and less stress for all.
I can celebrate the gains I have made, but I know that this is “a work in progress”.
My new goals
- Continue to work on group work and help students realize the importance of being a team player.
- Help students learn responsibility for their own learning.
- Continue in observing students and acknowledging their strengths.
- Help students to be aware of their own strengths and increase in confidence.
- Continue in finding great tasks for my students.
- Continue in growing relationships with students and families.
These steps have helped give equal access and participation in quality learning experiences to all students. I know this is just the beginning of my work with equity, but it is at least a start give opportunity to learn.