Sunday, 20 March 2016

Broadly speaking, there are three levels of functioning in any child.

The first level is the independent level. Any task given to the child, (whether it is reading, writing, math, comprehension, art or craft) if he is able to do with 99% accuracy, then he is at independent level for that activity. This means that he does not require any teaching or supervision to complete this task. He will be able to complete the task on his own and can even check his work. Ideally homework given should be at the independent level. The concluding activity of any (one hour) remedial session should be at the independent level, as it will motivate the child to come back for the next session. He will leave with a sense of accomplishment and nothing will motivate the child more than a success experience!

Tasks at the independent level can also be assigned when the child has come to class after a particularly taxing day. It helps him relax and feel good about himself. This will motivate and prepare him for the tougher tasks that may follow. There will be instances when the teacher herself may experience fatigue. It is best to avoid introducing any new/challenging concept to the child since the teacher may not be at her best frame of mind. Assigning any task that the child can do independently will be easier on both.

It is important to understand that any task does not automatically come under independent level just because it is below the child’s current grade level at school. The teacher should understand & assess the child thoroughly and arrive at his independent level of functioning. For some students reading may at independent level just one grade below (i.e. a class V student may read at grade IV independently) but spelling may be at independent level two grades below.

So it is important to have a complete profile of the student in each academic area of reading, spelling, math, comprehension etc. and determine his level of functioning.

Any good lesson plan should include a combination of activities at varying levels of functioning- independent, instructional & frustration, but conclude with a task at the independent level.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The art of remedial teaching
The art of remedial teaching lies in drafting an effective lesson plan and an IEP for the student.
Remedial teaching must be completely child centric. So it automatically follows that there is no prescribed syllabus or text book that will be suitable to all children at all times. The remedial teacher should understand the profile of the child. Profile would mean strengths & weaknesses. The teacher should use the child’s strengths to address his weaknesses. The Individualized Educational Plan(IEP) and the lesson plan should be customized to suit that particular child.

Of course, there are common mandatory activities like flash card drill, phonetics, spelling rule, reading intervention etc. which are applicable to all. But at what level we will begin, what modality will be used, what supplementary intervention is required (ex: OT, speech therapy etc.) should be child specific.

Remedial is not merely a cluster of five/six academic activities. Ex: if a child has done some reading, writing, spelling, math & comprehension activities along with some random worksheets, it does not mean that the class is complete. This will not be beneficial if adequate thinking has not gone behind it. Planning & goal setting are very important. The teacher should always be alert & have a reason behind every activity/worksheet/game given. Why am I asking the child to do this? How do I choose a particular reader/ comprehension passage/math activity etc.?

Each and every session is important for the teacher because there is scope to observe the child & gain some insight about his learning behavior. Every session should be used by the teacher to understand the child better and to hone her own skills. With every such experience, her ability to reach the child will get better. If one cannot reach the child, she cannot teach the child.

Remedial plan should be purposeful, specific, cumulative and customized. It should simultaneously be challenging and fun. If it is too easy, the child will not be motivated & if it is too tough, he will get frustrated. Intervention should be done with total sensitivity to the child’s level of functioning. It should have variety, should be multi-sensory and there should be enough scope for flexibility.

Teachers will be able to reach the child only if they show some amount of sensitivity and thought in creating an appropriate lesson plan. IF not improvement of the child will soon plateau and attending remedial class will become a monotonous, routine drudgery!