The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Extended Learning

For the past nine weeks, I have had a small group of seven students stay after school on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon for 90 minutes for extended learning. This was a program that was provided through a grant that my school district received. Students were selected based on the criteria of those who would most strongly benefit from a small group setting. The goal was not to target students who were in an “academic warning” status nor those who are exceeding grade level expectations. Rather, we wanted to invite students who are right in the middle.

Of course, everyone in the class would benefit from a small group setting. If I could have my ideal arrangement, I would have my class divided into four groups and each group would stay after school one day a week, Monday through Thursday, for some guided instruction without any other distractions. It would be wonderful to get a grant that would allow such a program, but money is limited, so I don’t even know if we will be able to do this again next year.

Over the fifteen sessions we had, we have worked on math skills and literacy. For math, I focused on multidigit arithmetic and fractions. For literacy, we worked on reading and writing. The reading selection for the group was Bunnicula, a book I had never read before but had heard many great things about from many different people. The students also wrote fictional narratives and a descriptive opinion piece.

Today was the last day for my group to meet. I feel like we have had a very successful run of this special program. I think that my group of seven came together and have become a support system for one another, both during and after school. We have also been able to experiment with ideas that I have later implemented with my entire class, such as using twelve-sided dice to generate problems involving the multiplication of a fraction by a single-digit whole number.

I asked my group what they thought about the extended learning group. Here is what they said:

  • It was not bad, but some days were kind of rocky and horrible. Overall, it was fun and exciting.
  • I think we should do it next year!
  • I like extended learning; I love it, actually! I want to do it next year!
  • It was kind of fun, but sometimes a little too easy for me.
  • It was good and we learned a lot and I want to do it next year. It was cool and fun.
  • It was cool and I really liked it because I get to see what the school is like when most of the kids go home.
  • It was pretty much good. I want to do it next year!

I think that their thoughts speak for themselves!

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