Question: My student seems advanced for his age. He’s 11 and can complete most of the homework we do with only a little prompting. I’m looking for a way to challenge him in our sessions. Any ideas?
There are many online resources you can use to challenge your student if they seem too advanced for their grade level. Recently I have been using Khan Academy to differentiate instruction for my students who are either advanced or below grade level. If you set up an account, you can actually add on your student (or as many as 30 students if needed) and assign them lessons to work on.
You can also monitor their progress as well and see exactly what skills they need help with. Once you have them start completing several lessons on Khan Academy, then you can see what your student has mastered or what your student needs extra support with. The best part about Khan Academy is that all the videos, lessons, and activities are completely free!
The most important thing to remember with advanced students is to keep them continuously challenged! If they feel as if they content they are learning is too easy, look up the beginning of year standards for the following grade level and teach them the content. They’ll be excited to learn something new and expand their learning!
Other great resources for reading and math that are standards based is IXL. Although IXL is not a free website, you can choose the subject they want to learn (Math or Language Arts) and choose the topic. Make sure you click carefully about which topic to learn because IXL only gives out a few free problems per day.
Another goal of mine in the classroom was to make learning fun and joyful! To increase the JOY factor in my 2nd grade classroom, I implemented several strategies:
- Connect the story to real life – For example in Reading Workshop, before teaching students about compare and contrast, I told them about how I was planning my wedding and had to read two books about wedding cakes. Because I made the story personal to myself, they were more excited to listen to the lesson and recognized the value of the reading strategy in everyday life.
- Incorporating different ways of learning – To reinforce the Reading workshop lessons, I started incorporating hand movements in the lesson plans so they could better recall the concept. For example, when talking about compare and contrast, I had students put their hands together to show compare, and then put their hands apart to show contrast which mimics the Venn Diagram.
- Using different materials and manipulatives – In math, we also increased joy factor by having students work on their whiteboards so they all have an opportunity to demonstrates their learning.
- Make learning seem like a game! – Children love games of all types, so I try to make a lesson a game whenever possible! For example, in math when they’re using their whiteboards, I have them draw a star on the corner of their whiteboard. At the end of the lesson we see which students received the most stars!
- Connect to their interests – Another way I incorporated Joy Factor in the classroom was by creating fake Pokemon cards as an incentive prize for whenever they passed a level in their Math Facts. The Pokemon cards not only made the Math Facts more interesting to the students, but it gave them a sense of accomplishment because they were obtaining something as they passed the math facts tests.
If you kids like Pokemon as well, you can use this site to create fake Pokemon cards and then print them on a color printer.