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rowenaz's avatar

How did they teach in the one-room school house?

Asked by rowenaz (2421 points ) September 19th, 2007

Simultaneously, I have to teach 10 kids French 1 hour each school day. They are ages 5–12!! I wish I knew how they did it then, so I could figure out the best way to approach it. They are all at different levels – some are Advanced, and some are Intermediate….Any ideas, advice or suggestions?

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9 Answers

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

Start off by giving a diagnostic test ranging from French 1 to French 5 or so and see how each kid does and what each individual knows already and/or where their weak/srong points are (i.e. grammar, vocab, etc.). You can also ask each child to write on an index card or sheet of paper their background and experience with the language, just make sure that you say it’s okay if they have no experience and to write that down, because you don’t want to make the beginners feel that they are out of place. Good luck!

theabk's avatar

I spent a few months in a one-room school (in France, no less!) when I was a kid – it was not quite as big an age range as you have; it was I think ages 8–12. The way the teacher did it was to seat the kids by age and give a lesson to one group, then give them something to work on, and then go on to the next group, etc. Of course it will be different in such a short amount of time and with that age range, but maybe you could do something like that – have the beginners/younger kids work together in a group while you teach the older ones, and vice versa. Good luck!

gailcalled's avatar

This assignment seems unfair, mean and impossible. I taught French to third and fourth graders for several years and decided that my goal was to converse only. No writing, no grammar rules, just yackety-yack (and English was defendu.) Do you have some kind of mandate from a department head or dean?

The only idea that I have, and it is not a great one, is to use the older kids to work w. the younger ones. (Five year olds can barely speak English. What kind of school is this?) I found that I learned more and better French when I taught it than when I was a student.

I’d be curious to hear how things go.

sarahsugs's avatar

I teach 2nd grade kids with a very wide age of abilities – granted they are all the same chronological age! – and my system in both math and reading revolves around “centers” and guided groups. The “centers” are activities that the students can do independently, while I work with small groups of 4 or 5 kids for 15 to 20 minutes of targeted instruction (in your case it could be 2 or 3 students for 12 to 15 minutes so you could see them all in one hour.) We have a centers rotation, so each group of 4 kids does a different center each day, mostly because some centers can only accomodate 4 kids.

Reading centers include:

1) A listening center (4 kids at a time listen through headphones to a book on tape while reading along in the hard copy of the book, and then complete a worksheet or graphic organizer about the story. With extra time they rewind the story and listen to it again.) For your kids the story could be in French. This is nice because all ages of kids could listen to the same story, with 2 or 3 different worksheets that are age/ability appropriate. I make a folder to keep at the listening center and tell the kids to find the worksheet with their name on it.

2) A word sort (For example: pictures of words using the short A sound and words using the long A sound. The kids cut out the pictures, sort them by sound, and glue them into a notebook.) Word sorts don’t have to be pictures, but can be used for phonics/word skills (past tense verbs vs. present tense, e.g.) and concepts. So in French they could sort food words vs. clothing words, or whatever sets of vocabulary you want them to work on. I usually differentiate these by giving each kid a packet of word sorts at his/her level. They know when it’s their day to do word sort, they tear off the top page from their packet. So a 5 year old would have different sort (probably mostly pictures) from a 10 year old.

3) Partner reading. (Read with a buddy.) Again – this is easily differentiated because students read books at their own levels. Obviously your books would be in French. You could select a bin of books for each level/age group ahead of time.

4) Computers (do you have computers?) Four kids at a time use headphones to work on various software/websites, with headphones. I don’t know any French ones, but I’m sure there are things out there. Each kid from the group of 4 is assigned a computer, so I can set it up ahead of time with the appropriate software for his/her level.

5) Sight word flash cards. Your cards could be vocabulary, with the English word on one side and the French word on the other. Older kids could “test” younger kids who are still non-readers, by showing them a picture, with the French word on the back. Or a simple memory game, with the word on one card and the picture on another, and with all the cards face down the kids have to try to turn over a match. After a short game like this I would usually ask the kids to write sentences using those words, or a paragraph for the older kids.

6) Choice writing. Students can write whatever they want and share it with a partner. Obviously your kids would write in French.

Anyway – I’m sure this gives you the idea. Meanwhile, you are calling several kids back at a time who have similar learning needs and working with them for a concentrated period, then calling several more while the first group returns to their centers. Differentiating like this is definitely a lot of advanced preparation, but once the system is up and running I have found that I can spread out the prep and it is not too bad. It takes some focused teaching of expectations for independent work times, and you’ll develop your own systems – e.g., I have a small lamp that I turn on when I am working with a guided group, and the rest of the class knows that they may NOT interrupt me when that lamp is on but must work together to answer their own questions and solve their own problems. This way the flow of instruction in the guided group is maintained. But that small group time with the teacher is so necessary in a class as widely spread as yours sounds. Good luck!

sarahsugs's avatar

I forgot to add that my students do only 1 center each day, with “extra time” activities in a special area if they finish early. Another choice is to rotate centers during your 1 hour, so they get to 2 or even 3, if your centers are really short. They get to practice more skills this way, but in a more superficial way and you run through your centers and have to change them more often. But that’s something you could experiment with.

hossman's avatar

The education in one-room schoolhouses was frequently very poor. Frequently the teacher had no training in teaching, nor any postsecondary, nor any high school education. Frequently students simply didn’t come to school when there were farm chores to be done (most of the year). Frequently the teacher was just one of the older kids.

When I was worked in juvenile corrections, I was surprised at first to learn that being locked up on a felony conviction did not mean the state not only had to provide an education, but also had to make unwilling students go to school. Truancy was not an option. The teachers at the prison, of course, had to deal with not only a very diverse student body, racially, socioeconomically, and in every other way, but also a very high number with serious behavioral problems or disorders, a high number not only unwilling to be in school (and being forced to be there or be in solitary confinement) but also with practically no history of attending school. The ages of the students ranged from 13 to 19 1/2. Many of the students had a history of violence and sexual assault. Their abilities ranged from completely illiterate to college bound. Yet, there was only one English classroom, one Social Studies classroom, one Math classroom. . . There was a reason there was a guard just outside each classroom. How would you like to teach those classes?

A friend of mine from high school taught English at the prison I worked at. She never had to worry about behavior problems in her classroom, as she was so nice to the inmates, and beautiful, that her students worshiped her, and her classroom was self-enforcing. A student who have her a bad time had to be put in solitary confinement for their own protection, as word would get around, and the moment they had an opportunity, a bunch of the other students would lay a beating on the transgressor.

nomtastic's avatar

check ou the movie “to be and to have” about a one-room french schoolhouse in the 1990s.

rowenaz's avatar

UPDATE: the teaching WOULD be going well, as I have some students doing computer assisted learning and others with me doing other activities – EXCEPT that it turns out ONE of the kids is COMPLETELY MENTAL and angry….but it was a good try on my part, and I am still trying my best….

rowenaz's avatar

And now that I’ve been teaching this group for several months, I’ll tell you how it worked out. I had two or three groups going at any given time – two kids were on the computer doing an independent language program that included tests and quizzes, one group was assigned to work independently twice a week (reading/completing a graphic organizer, or writing) and the rest of the time I worked with one group. I hung up the schedule so the kids would know what was happening – i.e. who would be on the computer, who would be in the focus group, and who would be working independently. The only problem was behavior sometimes, but it wasn’t really me, it was other issues that I had to teach the kids to “leave at the door” – so thank you to everyone with their responses earlier in the school year.

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