Friday, January 6, 2012

Fair is not equal or the same, it's what that person needs at that time

As in all classrooms, my classroom is full of students with varying needs and abilities.  I have a handful of students in my "below-level" reading group, a couple in my "advanced reading group".  Some weeks I have a couple students taking an advanced spelling list while one student only takes ten of the twenty regular words.  Most of my students take a timed test that consists of 100 multiplication problems while a couple only do 20.  Some get additional support on tests, while I expect more from others.  I even have students writing on all types of paper.  Some can use regular notebook paper, others need that middle dashed line, a couple need primary paper with wide spacing for their writing.  I even have a few students working with an advanced math program as they have caught on quickly with what I'm doing in class and I want to move them on.  The list goes on and on (as I'm sure it does for you too).

My students are very kind and good Christians, but sometimes I hear things such as, "That's baby work" or "why are you only doing ten words?".  I can understand how it would feel if I was working on 100 problems and my neighbor only had 20.

I saw this great idea somewhere (pinterest? another teaching blog?) that helps with this problem.  I decided to try it in my classroom and it worked wonderfully!

First buy a box of bandaids so that there is enough for each child.  Sit with the children in a circle and tell them to close their eyes and think of a time they were hurt.  When they open their eyes tell them you are going to give them a bandaid to make them feel better.  Walk around and put the bandaid on their hand. 

The first child I gave the bandaid to told me, "It was my other hand that was hurt"  The next kid said, "My cut was on my knee!  Can you put the bandaid there instead?"  Around the entire room the children didn't like getting the bandaid on their hand when their injury was elsewhere.  Finally one kid said, "Putting a bandaid on my hand when it's my head that hurts doesn't help me."

There you go...  Exactly.  This led us to a discussion about how some children learn differently.  We talked about how some need more help, how some need less help, and how some struggle with lots of things and need work they can do.  I put some math problems (super hard-high school level) on the board and asked for volunteers to solve it.  No one volunteered.

So I asked, "Would it matter how many of these problems I gave you?  Would 20 be any easier than one hundred?"  One student told me, "If I can't do one, I can't do 100 or 20!"

They really started to understand that sometimes what is fair is NOT equal.  A good lesson for all of us!

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