New classroom configuration personalizes learning for Remington students
New classroom configuration personalizes learning for Remington students
Thursday, November 29, 2018
On a recent Tuesday, teacher Danica Johnson sat on the floor with a small group of fourth- and fifth-graders discussing the book, “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing.” Visible through an opening in the wall leading to an adjoining classroom at Remington Traditional School, fellow teacher Emily Cook helped a student identify a text box in a book as part of a scavenger hunt to locate different features within a book.

Nearby, other students worked independently, reading books or working on handwriting. After about 30 minutes, students put away their reading materials and got ready for math instruction. Some stayed where they were. Others changed rooms, including some who walked across the hall to the adjoining classrooms of Ben Johnston and Karrie Peters.

The new structure for the fourth- and fifth-grade students at Remington is anything but traditional. That’s because these teachers changed the way their classes are structured and how they teach in order to better personalize learning for their students. The classes now make up Team 4-5, a learning configuration that combines fourth- and fifth-grade students into four classrooms, with students changing core classes (English language arts, math, science and social studies) as needed to best meet their personal learning needs and strengths.

Each morning, students report to homeroom with one of the teachers. Throughout the day, students are engaged in learning the core subject areas based on their individual academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs. The students have different teachers for the core subjects based on their levels of need. Prior to the new arrangement, all four teachers had at least one year of teaching both grade levels.

“All four teachers are familiar with the academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs of fourth and fifth grade,” Johnson said. “We saw this as a unique opportunity to create something new and different that will help reach students on a personalized level.”

Teachers instruct students in small groups based on their individual needs. In the future, they plan to incorporate project-based learning (PBL) as a component of their program. With PBL, students learn and reinforce core subject learning and critical thinking skills by working through a long-term project or problem.

“The students will begin to have more voice and choice surrounding their learning as the year progresses,” Johnson said. “Our goal is for our program to be a student-centered approach to learning as opposed to teacher-centered. The students will be in charge of setting their own goals and tracking their progress as aligned to the state standards. The students will show what they have learned in a variety of ways: presentations, written reports, projects and utilizing apps on their iPads.”

The personalization extends even to the classroom seating. All Team 4-5 classes offer a variety of flexible seating options, including futons, yoga balls, bean bags, pillows, stools and more, in addition to traditional options such as desks, chairs and tables.

IMG_0040.jpg
Remington teacher Emily Cook (in foreground) assists students during English language arts while fellow teacher Danica Johnson meets in a small group to discuss a book they read (in background).

IMG_0047.jpg
Teacher Danica Johnson discusses "Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing" with students in a small group.

IMG_0051.jpg
A student reads independently during English language arts in Danica Johnson's classroom.

IMG_0083.jpg
After some students changed rooms for math instruction, Remington teacher Ben Johnston brings his class together on the floor to go over what students will be doing during the period.

IMG_0107.jpg
Teacher Karrie Peters goes over math concepts with a small group at Remington Traditional School.