Instructional Strategies Summarized!

Well, the last week has set my world in a bit of a whirlwind. Getting used to doing home-school with my 8 year old and then finding out I may be gluten intolerant and need to completely change my diet. Health and Wellness is a big part of my life, and I try to eat whole grains and make a lot of food from scratch, but going Gluten Free hasn’t necessarily been a goal.
Needless to say, blogging hasn’t been my highest priority. Slowly, things are coming into place. Monday starts my Gluten Free diet and I’ll be updating my Health and Wellness page on details there.
We did some fun projects this week, including a comparison of an Ocean and River environments. More to come on that soon! 
And now… back to our strategy descriptions. I feel it’s very important for parents to know what sound strategies are and what strategies are being used in their child’s classroom. When you able to converse with the teacher on what strategies are being used and have a general knowledge, you will gain the respect of the professionals and they might be more willing to listen and implement new strategies that you bring to them.
We’ll start with the less effective strategies.

Skills based approach: this is skill and drill. Isolated facts and vocabulary with worksheets to practice
Individual work: With individual work, sometimes the material is taught first, and sometimes it is assumed the child already knows how to do the work. Most often this takes the form of worksheets, but can include journal writing, writing and reading, etc. I don’t think individual work is all bad. It’s needed, in limited quantities and for mostly practice rather than figuring out new work.

Worksheets: self explanatory

Direct Instruction: Explicit, systematic instruction based on scripted lesson plans. This is a complete model of instruction and more completely explained here. This approach can be good for re-teaching basic concepts or vocabulary that has already been taught in the strategies on the right, but should not be used as the daily approach to teaching.
Isolated spelling and vocabulary words: It’s very easy to follow a curriculum based spelling list and pass it out to the kids without teaching each word. However, this is so ineffective, especially for deaf children. Spelling and vocabulary is best taught in context, from text that is being read in class.
Leveled readers and Basal readers: These are the thin books sent home to read or used in class daily. Many schools use Basal readers, or reading text books, to teach reading. These resources are ok to be used in a limited manner, or for independent reading and assessments. For more information go here. Some of the reasons I don’t like them:
  •  they’re boring. Often the stories are developed to fit a set reading level, have pictures that aren’t very appealing, and don’t FEEL like a real book.
  •  The students can tell who is reading what level and know if they are behind.
  •  When the curriculum is tied to ONLY Basal readers, the kids miss out on learning from Trade Books (regular books you get at the library, can hold in your hands and relax while reading.)
Total Communication (Signing & Talking together): This topic will get its own post! In a nutshell, Total Communication (TC) attempts to put a sign to each word in the English language. When put into practice, it’s trying to speak two languages at the same time. It’s impossible. Yet, it’s still happening! I attempt to use this method of communication when in a mixed company of deaf and hearing people. I almost ALWAYS goof up… on my signing, losing clarity in my communication with the Deaf. Not a very effective way to educate. More on this one later! For now… check out this website: 
The Good ones…. coming next week!

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