Clearing the Way for Compacting and Contracts

By Taru Nieminen            January 13, 2017

Sarah steps into the classroom with a stack of novels under her arm. She quietly goes to her seat and even before the bell rings, she is engrossed in her book. I look at her with a burrowed brow as I know she is a bright student, yet I have not been able to reach her. I’ve given her extra assignments to “keep her busy” and let her even take on some responsibilities in teaching other students.

Yet, every day she walks in with what seems like an unreal amount of books to read in a week, let alone a month. Some of her classmates wouldn’t even finish them in a year!

The same goes for Joye; he masters the material and hands in his assignment before you’re even through with your mini lesson!

Introducing:  Compacting and Contracts!

Sarah already knows the rules of grammar, doesn’t need to re-learn about verbs, and doesn’t need to be told what to do. She needs the independence and responsibility that come with compacting and contracts.

Joye can solve multifaceted math problems in his head, no paper or pencil needed. He needs the challenge compacting and contracts offer.

Compacting is a way for highly able learners to further their knowledge of a topic. It enables the student to learn using engaging materials and skill building exercises that accelerate and enrich. The skill building exercises for on-grade-level and struggling students are boring and way too easy for Sarah and Joye!

Different Types of Compacting and Independent Contracts

Think about this for a compacting and independent contract: Sarah loves to write poetry. She often shows some of her poems, or you see her sharing with her friends. They are good, but you also think she could do better.

You research and find several poetry contests she could enter. The sites also offer writing tips and peer editing. Well then. There it is all set up for you and for Sarah! Write out a contract (or print from online sources) and voila: compacting and contract done.

Remember, make it easy for you to implement and easy for Sarah to follow. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Other Types of Compacting and Contract Ideas

Other critical thinking activities that you and the student create; ensure guidelines are put in place and that the student has a rubric to follow.

What Does Compacting and Independent Contracts Offer the Student?

  • Independence and responsibility
  • The ability to make decisions on their own
  • Student chooses the interest level and therefore the value goes up
  • Self-directed learning; where it will take the student is up to them.

The Challenge

Everything you teach can be tiered. Yes, everything. Is this easy? No. And therein lies your challenge. Challenge yourself, use your creativity, your intelligence, and your wit to offer compacting and contracts.

Remember, you don’t have to compact by time limits (like trimesters, semesters, or marking periods). You can compact by topic, unit, or content.




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