My head has been spinning the last few days. I have been trying to start organizing units for next year for my algebra class. It has been a lot of work especially if I want to continue making strides with standards based grading and holding my students accountable for mastering the standards. I have so many directions that I want to go and I am still working to prioritize in addition to deciding what I can actually manage.
One decision that I made about next year is that I really want to structure some specific extra help time after school. I am thinking to resurrect "Hot Topic Thursday". Every Thursday there was a specific topic that students were struggling to master. I started this because I noticed that students would come for help and have no idea what to ask, even with prompting, and couldn't advocate for themselves. I also noticed that some students were simply shy, uncomfortable, or reluctant.
"Hot Topic Thursdays" started as a way to make coming for help more comfortable for the students I described previously. With each Thursday having a specific topic, students were able to identify topics that needed more clarification. It helped them to be able to advocate for themselves by simply walking in the room. I also encouraged students to bring someone with them which reduced the anxiety of being the only one. I also told them what we were going to do, but kept it loose enough to make changes if needed, when they came. Students knew that they weren't going to do worksheets. We usually used manipulatives to clarify topics.
I found that more students came and brought someone else with this structure. I was able to work with them more intensely than when we were in class and the students asked more questions. There was a lot of piggy backing off of other students questions. The conversation was good and students made progress.
If you are interested, here is the flyer that I sent home with students:
What structures do you use to encourage students to come in for extra help?