Brenda Scott Academy kindergartners come together in May to work on a Mother’s Day project. The three teachers, Sarah Hay, Michaela McArthur and Sara Ordaz, regroup the children for different lessons. Credit: Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press
Three teachers and a part-time aide are teaching nearly 100 kindergarteners in the “hub” (formerly the library) of a low-performing Detroit school, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Each teacher has a homeroom, math and reading class. For reading and math, kids are put in a high-, middle- or low-level group and move to the corresponding teacher’s section. There, activities can include whole-group lessons, small-group lessons and instructional games on laptops. Writing is taught in homeroom.
The entire group spends time together, too, such as on a day in May when about 70 students (a number were absent) sat on a rug to watch a teacher demonstrate how to cut out a paper watering can from an outline. A paraprofessional helps out two hours a day.
Grouping students by performance lets advanced students “really push each other, and just excel that much more and that much faster,” teacher Sara Ordaz said. “The same thing with our lowest kids.”
Many are skeptical.
“I would never put my child in that kind of experience,” said Joan Firestone, director of early childhood education for Oakland Schools. “I think it’s too chaotic. There’s too many kids and too few adults.”
MOOKs (Massive Outrageous One-room Kindergarten) are a very bad idea, writes Nancy Flanagan on Teacher in a Strange Land.
Open classrooms were a fad in the ’70s. It didn’t work then.
But it’s possible to group students by performance without putting 90+ five-year-olds in the same large room. Elementary teachers did it in the ’50s. I believe I was a Robin. Or possibly a Bluebird.