I started my career as a teacher (longer ago than I’d like to admit) knowing that I needed to meet the needs of all of my students.
In college, I was taught how to meet the needs of students who are below grade level, but what about those who already ‘get it’? I had no idea how to meet the needs of my students who needed a challenge. They didn’t teach me that in undergrad. They didn’t even touch on it in my Master’s program.
It took a group of students in my 12th year of teaching to realize that I had been doing a disservice to so many of my students over the years. I didn’t have just one or two students who needed enrichment that year, I had seven. That’s right, SEVEN! As a first grade teacher, that had never happened to me in my career, and I realized that now was the time that I needed to make a change.
Below are the top five things I needed to think about when figuring out where to start with student enrichment. If you haven’t yet, start thinking about the 6 W’s.
First, I need to figure out which students are ready for enrichment. Will I use previous year’s scores and data? A pre-test? Observation? A conversation? Enrichment isn’t always a one size fits all. Many students will move back and forth, in and out of enrichment based on the standards being taught.
Now it’s time to determine what my students will be doing for enrichment. Will they be sticking to the same standard, but going deeper and more complex? Will they be working on the same standard, but at the grade level above? Will they be working on a completely different standard? Will it be a project or a quick, one lesson activity?
When will my students be doing their enrichment projects/activities? During the whole group lesson when the other students are learning new content? One thing to consider is whether or not enrichment students need to sit through the whole group lesson if they already understand the content. Can they just work while the other students are learning? If not, then is it when the rest of the students are applying their new learning during independent work time?
Where will my students work on enrichment projects? At their desks? At my small group table? Out in the studio space?
Why do we want to provide enrichment for our students who are ready? Why should we meet the needs of our students, even if it is just one student, when the rest of the class isn’t ready to move on to harder concepts?
How will my students complete their enrichment projects? By themselves? With a para or parent helper’s support? With my support? With a partner or in a group? This question may depend on their age. Are students able to read and understand their enrichment project on their own? If not, how will I explain it to them so that they can work on it independently or with a partner/group? This is especially the case if I am supporting the students who are still working on learning the new content. If I am the one supporting my students, another thing I want to consider is how they approach me if I am working with other students? Wait in between each of my small groups? Raise their hand?
Check out this 10-Page Enrichment Planning freebie for a hard copy of all of these questions, and specific things you can do, or look for, to address each of the 6 W’s.