It sounds as though your school is seriously considering the adoption of The Spalding Method as your language arts curriculum. This step will certainly move students in a positive direction. Your specific assignment, teaching a 6-8 class for struggling students means that you likely will have students of far-ranging abilities, experiences, and levels of achievement. If done well, The Spalding Method can be the best possible approach you could use to help these students. You have to realize that many of your students will lack understanding of basic skills – such as phonemic awareness and structured phonics. The trick to working with older students needing basic skills is to teach those skills in a way that is not demeaning, demoralizing, or boring to older students. Construction of the spelling notebook gives you a vehicle to teach those basics in a way very different from what most students have experienced. While “filling the gaps” in basic learning The Spalding Method also offers an “integrated” approach to teaching language arts that incorporates writing and reading comprehension as well. It will be quite possible to begin teaching high-level concepts in both of these areas using the materials offered through Spalding.
Your task will be to provide a “crash course” in all those things these older students should have learned in the earlier grades. . . but didn’t. There are a myriad of reasons why students may have fallen through the cracks, but Spalding would give you effective tools to significantly raise these students’ achievement levels. Your task is not an easy one because teaching this kind of class requires that you diagnose each student’s needs. . . where the gaps and holes are and then teach directly to those needs.
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