"In low-ability classes, for example, teachers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and 'behavior and less on academic learning. Compared to teachers in high-ability classes, they seem to be more concerned about getting students to follow directions, be on time, and sit quietly. Students in low-ability classes more often feel excluded from class activities and tend to find their classmates unfriendly. Their classes are more often interrupted by problems and arguing, while students in higher-ability classes seem to be much more involved in their classwork."
This quote reminds me of my service learning classroom because it is absolutely true that in low ability classes, like mine, they are more focused on discipline and behavior. The first twenty minutes of class is usually an attempt to control the classroom and have everyone sit down in their seats. Twenty minutes. Students are either arguing with one another, showing each other videos on their phone, listening to music, you name it. There is wasted time on attempting to reign the classroom together to focus on the task of that day. However, if the teacher did not spend that time getting the class together, it would be chaos and there would be no way of having a productive class. Students will also not participate in workbook activities which would cause the class to be interrupted to point out the students weren’t doing their “busy work”. Most of the class consists of talking, playing on their phones, and being rather loud until the task of the day is finally enforced by the teacher. When at most times, the teacher only expects one assignment of the students, which isn’t a whole lot.
Typically, low-track high school students have been in low-ability groups and remedial programs since elementary school. The gap between them and more successful students has grown wider - not only in achievement but in attitudes toward school and toward their own ability to succeed.
I loved this quote because it captured exactly what I was thinking while reading this article. Students that were in the low-ability groups since elementary school, of course have a different attitude towards their achievement and their own ability to succeed. It’s almost as if being in those groups caused them to lose their self esteem academically. Imagine being a student who never is able to escape from the lower ability groups from elementary school to high school. Their opinion of themselves will be, “I’m too stupid to be in that class”. I have heard classmates make comments of that nature because they have been in that environment for so long they feel they would never be capable of being in the higher level classes. Oakes also points out that some classes require basic skills that may not seem so basic to a student in a lower level classroom. I have also seen this among classmates who would look at the work that I would be doing and say that it looked way too hard and that they would never be able to do the work. They haven’t been given the opportunity to master the same skills as someone who is in a higher ability classroom and if they are never given that chance, they will continue to struggle to have the drive to move up to a higher classroom. This creates a gap amongst students which will pave a clear path of who will succeed and those who will not. That seems like a very broad statement, however, not given the proper tools, you will see the students who thrive and those who fall behind.
“Few low-ability classes, on the other hand, were taught these topics skills. Students in the latter class learned basic reading skills taught mostly by workbooks, kits, and “easy to-read stories.” -Jeannie Oakes
This quote reminds me of my service learning project and how this is what the class is based off of. They are given “dumbed- down” activities and worksheets that the students themselves view as too easy or “stupid”. They are not given enough credit for the intelligence that they do have and are forced into the redundant, easy work to just get by. Most students recognize the difference in the level of difficulty, but don’t seem to mind. They see there is no challenge and have no motivation or drive to present themselves with one. In this quote she is comparing how higher ability students classrooms are learning literature including Shakespeare to develop their basic reading skills versus their simplified versions. Along with the higher level literature they were expected to learn vocabulary that would expanded their vocabulary and help boost their SAT scores. This gap clearly makes a difference among students, by simply holding one to a higher expectation.
This video shows how in this particular classroom, they were able to bring together both lower ability and higher ability for all students to have a better understanding altogether on the particular subject of math.