Mixing classes

The Chicago Sun-Times is following the third graders at a new University of Chicago charter school that’s trying to educate low-income black kids from the projects with middle-class black students. Even in third grade, the range of skills is wide: Some kids are at kindergarten level, including the daughter of a woman studying to become a teacher, while others are working at grade level, including the daughter of a recovering drug addict living on a disability check.

Behavior is a problem, but it’s not always the project kids who are disrupting class.

Update: U of C recommends “guided reading” to enable students at different reading levels to learn in the same class. In mid-year, a literacy specialist was brought in to give more help to the lowest group of readers.

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  1. Robert Wright says:

    I read the article and still can’t figure out what guided reading is.

    The article said that students will go to learning centers, put on earphones and read along while they listen to a tape. Uh, students don’t follow along when they listen to a tape unless a teacher is there watching their eye movement.

    The math stuff? Geez, it’s progressive teaching gone nuts. There’s nothing wrong with adding a column of numbers. Forget looking for real life applications. Math is supposed to be metaphor.

  2. Mike McKeown says:

    Guided reading is just another example of whole languate in action. As I saw it practiced on my youngest child, all the kids gather around a single large (~4′ x 4′ for each page) copy of a book. The teacher then reads the passage while using a pointer to focus on each word as it is read. Those kids who have already learned to read (probably at home), read along with the teacher. The rest mumble along like me in a religious service, and wait for it to end. The teacher may also try to enhance the non-verbal aspects of learning to read, such as guessing from the pictures what the words must be.

    The rest of the stuff is just more methods to not teach kids to read. If they want the non-readers to read, there are effective ways involving systematic skill building. They don’t use those.

    If they (the school and staff) want to feel good about using sensitive progressive methods that (supposedly) don’t stigmatize non-readers and lock all students together without regard for current ability or skill level, then this is perfect. If they want to maximize the number of kids who learn to read in a timely fashion, this is foolish.

    Am I suprised that a famous ed school associated with a top-rank university is sponsoring this nonsense? Of course not. Leading ed schools are leaders in supporting bad practices (think Columbia). Lower-tier ed schools pick up the trend and send the bad practices far and wide.