When students don’t get it, teachers engage in reflective practices to gain insight into what went wrong. We ask, “is it me or is it them?”. I use a 20/80 rule. If >20% of the class scores below 80%, we’re in whole class, reteach mode. If <20% of the class scores below 70%, we're in small group, reteach/remediation mode. Often times teachers get caught up in the who, instead of creating solutions. I look at it like this, "the kids didn't learn it, period. Figure out another way to reach them." Here are a few tips for reteaching:
1. Manipulatives are fabulous: flipbooks, maps with velcro labeling, the more hands-on, the better.
2. Color-coded review: have students arranged in groups. Students who “got” the previously taught concept are one color, go to the area of the room/pick up the color coded paper (whatever format you choose) and complete anchor activity to enrich and enhance, or design higher-order questions for one another to answer. Students who just need more time are assigned another color and engage in a exercises and reinforce and enable more practice. Finally, students who missed the concept are assigned a third color, those students will most likely interact with the teacher to learn the concepts.
3. Similarities and differences: According to Marzano, this is one of the highest-yielding strategies to increase achievement. Students need to sort, separate, organize content in order to see the larger picture. Sorting activities whether with words or pictures are guaranteed to boost student achievement when implemented properly.
4. Lower level reading: Whenever I need more time with a concept, I read a dummy-downed version of the concept. This means I start with a middle school textbook prior to delving into primary source documents, college resources, and sometimes even my college textbooks. Do the same with students, give them a pared down version of the text and help them make sense of it with guided reading activities.
5. Kagan “Act it Out”: Profound? Not so much. Effective? Hands down. Try differentiating “Colonists had to obey British laws, which were enforced by governors” and “A colonial legislature made laws for each colony but was monitored by the colonial governor”. As far as an 11 year old is concerned they don’t know who made the laws — Britain, the legislatures, or both. Also, why use enforce and monitor. This concept really hit home when acted out each word in these concepts.
6. Mnemonic devices: are helpful when practicing the order of something, otherwise forget it, because kids can’t always remember what each letter stands for.
7. Play with words. Latitude is flatitude. Latitude lines run flat, as if your body was lying down flat. This helps! Especially when you have students create longitude and latitude lines with their body.