Starting a Grade 2/3 Class as a Substitute

Congrats! You got an LTO for a month in a 2/3 classroom.  I am going to offer some feedback based on the dozens of different 2/3 classes I have taught in. These are some of the best ideas from the classes I have seen so far. 2/3s are very rule and routine oriented. You have a great opportunity to use the month to set up these procedures and develop a consistent schedule. Housekeeping and health/safety (new curriculum) is usually a great way to start.

For writing, they will benefit from working on their printing and typing skills. Prompts should be used for writing with a focus on personal expression and other aspects of the curriculum (My favorite part of my neighborhood/town/city is…) and it helps to get them to copy the prompt for direct instruction/extra practice.

Daily read-alouds are great ways to start a lesson. Individual, shared and paired reading instruction with leveled readers seems to work best from my observations. If you have Ipads, set them up on apps like Tumblebooks. This age group typically has a motivation to move to the next level, so it helps to have them in a leveled setting.

For mathematics and visual art, practice with as many measuring items, cutting tools, coloured pencils, markers and glue as you can.

Also, for art, language, science and social studies, attempt to teach them how to use your board’s presentation software. It may be very difficult, but teaching them how to make a cover page in Powerpoint, Prezi or Slides requires a lot of tech skills that they will need in the future. This will be helpful for their ability to make products in the future.

Prodigy is a safe bet for math skill/drill work. If you can get Dreambox, you are in luck. For old-school math work, manipulative exploration paired with pencil-to-paper representation is a great way to bridge their experience from play-based learning into more academic learning. Teach proper use of calculators as tools, but still place emphasis on mental computation. The three-part inquiry math is the most useful once they have developed some number sense, computation and problem solving skills. Some math concepts can be applied to visual arts (geometric patterning).

Science for the fall months can be done mostly outdoor explorations for specific units (Air/Water in the Environment for Grade 2, soils for grade 3).

Social studies can also be done outdoors; students can design, map and build a “community” in the schoolyard after some direct instruction about parts of a community. The community can reflect a heritage strand (FNMI or settlers villages).

Phys. Ed can be fitness and outdoors- based for the first month. Simple fundamental movement skills (physical literacy – throwing, jumping, catching, running, balancing, stretching, lifting, etc) are the foundation to any physical education program.

These are just a few of the ways I would start off a 2/3 split. Do you have any ideas that work well with this age group? Please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Evidence of Learning With Informal Assessment

Most of the informal assessments will include projects and presentations and discussions. Overall, there will be three aspects of evidence of learning:

In order to gather valid evidence of learning, the conversations, observations and products should be derived from multiple and varied assessment opportunities:

Teachers should use formal assessment measures to gather evidence of learning, because it is important to be exposed to various norm, criterion and standardized tests. Higher education still uses these methods whether they are effective or not, so we owe it to students to teach them how to effectively write these tests and learn from them.

However, it is important that teachers use informal methods of assessment to evaluate student learning. Life beyond higher education is not going to be a standardized test. Students will eventually be required to create products individually and collaboratively in the workplace.

Here is an example of how a teacher can use informal assessment methods to guide student learning and prepare them for the future:

In MFM2P, students learn about applications of the quadratic form     ax^2+bx+c = 0. For a rich informal assessment, students can be asked to sketch and create structures that use parabolas in their design. They can then present their project and explain the mathematics involved in their design and product.

A teacher can assess the students in a variety of ways. A checklist can be used to ensure the student is progressing appropriately. Ongoing observations can be used to guide student-teacher in-person conferences or journaling. At the end, Peer/Self assessments can be administered to guide a final rubric. This rubric can be used to evaluate the four domains of achievement (Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking, Communication and Application). The finished notes and product (take photos of physical models) can be added to the student’s portfolio.

The informal assessments do not exist well as standalone assessments. Combining them using a rich task is an effective way to ensure that students are being assessed based on valid and reliable conversations, observations and products.