I remember many years ago hearing for the first time a phrase that caught my attention as a youngster–“living life in the fast lane.” I cannot remember all the connotation of the phrase, but I have heard the phrase used a number of times since. One thing for sure, the fast lane is often very appealing, especially to someone that has drive and purpose.
Rollins (2014) in Learning in the Fast Lane addresses the age-old problem of remediation, noting that the focus of most remediation is to help students master concepts that they have missed along their educational journey. She sees remediation as over-focus on the past, with the goal of getting students to the present.
Rollins admits that reaching those students most challenging to teach can be daunting. Many times teachers justify focusing instruction towards the more motivated learner. Her book provides strategies that “foster academic achievement in all students, not just those who are at highest risk for academic failure.”
Using research-based ideas, Rollins offers eight (8) ways to achieve high-impact instruction so that all students can learn. To whet the appetite, here are the ideas she offers–
1) Acceleration – Jump-starting students who are behind
2) Standards Walls – Transforming standards into clear learning goals
3) Success Starters – Sparking student success right away
4) Formative Assessment and Feedback – Checking student understanding minute by minute
5) Vocabulary Development – Implementing a strategic plan
6) Student Work Sessions – Giving students greater responsibility with valuable work
7) Student Motivation – Creating engaging tasks and a positive learning environment
8) Scaffolding – Providing what’s missing just in time
Since research shows that when a student fails a course or grade, remediation often widens rather than closes the achievement gap, I found some of Rollins’ ideas very compelling. Most interesting was her readiness to lay out a carefully mapped plan to not only remediate those in need, but to challenge all students to learn.
In a day when growing numbers of students are entering Christian schools with achievement gaps, I recommend that you read Learning in the Fast Lane. It is an easy read of only about 150 pages, but it offers some new ideas and interesting twists on some old ideas. Our students deserve the very best instruction that we can offer; Rollins offers some good ideas to put our classrooms on the fast track.
Will you share with us an idea that you use to remediate or accelerate students in your classroom? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Rollins, S. P. (2014). Learning in the fast lane: 8 ways to put all students on the road to academic success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.