This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
I feel that my moment was on pages 99-101. I have been using Venn diagrams in lessons, as well as the Think-Tac-Toe yet, I have not seen or used letters in order to compare/contrast information. "When you look at more than one oval do your eyes cross?" - I have actually seen some students experience this. I like that the same information can be organized into the different shapes so the students that do not necessarily get the Venn diagrams can have a special organizer as well and not just a two column or more list.
There were 3 sections that I thought were interesting. Page 83, “The key is intent - ….why are you modifying the content…” This is the difficult part in the middle school curriculum. Unless the GT students are in a separate class teachers tend to not have the time to differentiate all the time. On page 103, “The product is not our goal with Think-Tac-Toe: we are more concerned with the content and process.” It seems like the emphasis should be on what they know instead of what they produce and flexibility is the key to the activity. On page 129, All students will be responsible for the content in a unit.” Differentiation seems to still lead to a uniform end produce, knowing the material.
responding to s.hardie: I had some students this week that were baffled by the Venn Diagram. I liked that the author offered a single circle! LOL!
One ah-ha moment I had was trying to figure out the little Venn Diagrams in the corner on page 90, 93, 94, 97, etc. I now realize it is for the part that doesn't get compared alone. I actually learned a lot from reading the various diagrams! We used a Venn Diagram this week to compare Monarchs and Viceroys. It was so challenging to teach the students how to create one! I appreciate the easy to access Appendix G.
On page 86 the comment is made by the author, "the key to differentiation is not more but different." This really hit home with me as I often catchmyself thinking they just need more work when actually they just need more challenging work!! On page 113, I came to realize when I read "When children become accustomed to the fact that not everyone learns everything in the same way, it becomes commonplace to have different options presented," that the kids really don't notice that much when classmates receive different assignments. If you are always differentiating then it comes to be expected by the kids.
I developed a new appreciation for the Venn diagram because of its ability to offer differentiation (p. 86), preassess ability levels (p. 89), challenge students and allow debriefing that includes everyone (pp. 98-99). I like how the debriefing can provide detail-oriented students the big picture and the big-picture oriented students the details. This stretches thinking so that students see value and respect from the teacher, and insight into student diversity. Think-Tac-Toes remind of menus I created with other teachers in training sessions a few years back. Using only Gardner's MI and the learning objective we found it challenging work. It is so great to see this now because it is truly needed, differentiation is forefront on my agenda. BUT, a big aha for chapters 6 and 7 is remembering to assess student interest, and knowledge and ability levels...for continuous progress.
In response to Melanie's students that were confused by Venn diagrams, I have students who would benefit from starting at one circle. I have a few third graders new to the US who lacked educational opportunity, including the Venn diagram. I have a really smart math student reading at kindergarten level. He doesn't grasp how the diagram works. Working up to two ovals could be done quickly and easily with these kiddos, I think.
A comment that I particularly appreciated was made on p. 117 under "How Can I Begin?" I often feel, when I am attempting something new, that I have to reinvent the wheel along with everything else. Being reminded to start with a highly familiar unit of content was good for me to read. When I am already familiar with the content and intentional outcome for a lesson, it is much easier for me to see how it is possible to differentiate learning for the students as we cover that topic. Differentiating through Venn diagrams or Think-tac-toe will also help keep me focused on student-centered learning rather than teacher focused instruction. It will take some work at first, but I think the results will be worth it.
I appreciate s.hardie's comment on organizers other than the Venn diagram. Since Venn diagrams tend to work well for me, I hadn't thought about kids for whom that much busy-ness on a page would be more distracting than helpful! That will definitely be something I will pay closer attention to in the future.
p.97 I liked the way the Venn diagrams are designed to analyze the concept by planning and differentiating the lesson. The four Venn diagrams: Figure 6.10, World Religions illustrates the most basic Venn and progresses to the highest with serveral venns. This places the student at his ability instructional level and learning preference so progress can be more challenging as the learning level increases with higher order critical cognitive skills.
Working with the end in mind certainly does demystify any lurking shadows of intent. Patty writes well (student-centered learning) when she addresses how to begin. With that in mind,it is an item for me when I start a new strategy for students to use in the learning process. I have to tell myself that it's okay if I don't do it perfectly the first time, otherwise I might have a real hard time getting started.
On pages 113-114, it reminded me to first gauge the student's interests with the beginning inventory to help create the tic tac toe options, but then gave me an alternative to the traditional tic tac toe board. I like the modifications (the two column board) and I like that it can be easily adapted to fit the students and the topics.
My "Ah-ha" moment came while reading the section titled, "What if Venn Diagrams Just Don't Work for You?" I am one of those people who find Venn Diagrams somewhat difficult to work with, especially with more than two circles. These diagrams have been around since I began teaching 19 years ago. I use them in the classroom (especially since they are presented on the reading TAKS test), but I have never been a big fan of them. The authors of the text recognize this and encourage educators to be "open to new formats" (p. 99). I have used variations of the box chart in my class, with excellent results. I have not used the letter organizers, but this format lends itself well to compare/contrast scenarios. It essentially boils down to the overall theme of this book - provide students with choices!
I agree with Patty that trying something new can be daunting, and starting with a familiar unit is an excellent way to test the waters. The authors state that you should "choose a favorite unit and then remove your blinders that dictate this method you've designed is the only design possible" (p. 117). I am appreciative of the resources outlined under the heading, "Design Tasks with Varied Products" (pages 123-129), which lists books that include a variety of products that address different learning styles and abilities.
My Aha moments in the chapters 6-7... The options given on pages 105-107, When Do I Use It?, helped me with the Think-Tac-Toe tool. The suggestions were pretty basic and easy to follow. I think using this tool as the Unit Assessment is a great idea. The focus being on the content and how well they have learned the material. It also offers flexibility with using a pen-and-paper test as well as Think-Tac-Toe.
Katie Kavanagh had a good point. Remembering to use the interest inventory to determine their interests will make it more meaningful. The modified two column board on page 115 is a nice option, too.
My first aha moment was just realizing that the Venn Diagram could be used in so many different ways. I have never even thought of using it as a preassessment tool. I loved all of the examples of Venn Diagrams that built on one another. (pgs 85, 87, 88) Traditionally I have always thought of the Venn Diagram as the 2 or 3 circle tool. I like that pg 98 talks about letting students try a more challenging level if desired. If the students are allowed to choose a topic they are interested in, I can see many of them being challenged enough to take on more work. My aha moment for chapter 7 was actually reading about the tic tac toe method and seeing what it is. I have never really had an assignment with so many options, but am ready to create an economics unit in which I can use this tool. I really liked how they brought in multiple intelligences (pgs112-113) when discussing how to create a tic tac toe.
My Ah-Has from Chapter 6 and 7 were about the samples that they gave of the Venn Diagrams in Chapter 6, the alternatives to Venn Diagrams, and the evaluation of the Think-Tac-Toe board. The samples were excellent. I really liked how they walked through the formation of the crossovers in the diagrams. They would start with one and layer in all of the information of that one and then add the second and see what they had in common and so on. The four examples were extremely impressive, but I realized that I could do that with students in the science lab if we took it one step at a time. I also found the alternatives on pgs. 100 and 101. There are some students that don't think in VDs and I think that these are great alternatives to the circles - same concept, but different layout. Great idea! Since my situation is a little bit different (not being a classroom teacher) and I share any new knowledge I learn with the teachers on my campus I will definitely be sharing about the Think-Tac-Toe boards. I know the issue of grading will come up and the last page of chapter 7 provided me with some great suggestions for assessing the projects. I agree with the products being visible as crucial. It validates not only the student who created it, but the variety and differences in learning styles of our students.
I agree with what katie kavanagh wrote about the modification to the board. You could even take it a step farther and as you introduce the layout and format of the board with younger kids begin with one row of options as more of an organizational tool and then add the second row and so on. You could also do this by introducing one column at a time (limiting options within the content) until the students become comfortable with the process. I have a great resource for you katie on laying out the boards and deciding what to include in the columns and rows. I will be sure to pass it along to you.
I have never been a big fan of Venn Diagrams – the main reason - I really didn’t know how to use them. But the way this books explains the different ways you can use Venn Diagrams makes this a big “ah-ha” moment for me. (Example: Graphic Organizer page 90)I really like the way you can use them so all students are held accountable for the same concept but on different levels of complexity.
My ah ha came in Chapter 6 page 86 when it said " The key to differentiation is not more but different"- it sounds so simple and I've been making it harder than it really should be. I totally love the different formats of Venn Diagrams to use with science and social studies concepts. I have given my students the choice of 2 and 3 part venn diagrams, and was very surprised that students who I didn't think would like the 3 part venn diagram were giving much deeper responses to the content. They told me that the two part venn diagram was boring to them, and they like the challenge. They said it made them think more- Sounds like a win-win situation to me.I am going to try to use them to review all the content that we have to cover for Science TAKS. It will be enlightening to see the details that they give.
I agree with MCushing comment of introducing it one column at a time. I think the more that teachers are comfortable with using it then the kids will adjust easily. No need to bite off more than you can chew! That only leads to frustration.
Chapter 6 on Venn Diagrams was a giant Ah-ha for me. I have used Venn diagrams in the past, but only with two ovals and not very often. This chapter gave great visual examples that helped me to understand how great of a tool Venn diagrams can be in the classroom and how they can be used in so many different ways. I have never thought about adding more circles for some students to increase the complexity of the assignment. I love that this book gives you great ideas, which can actually work in the classroom without a ton of extra work required for planning. I plan on using Venn diagrams during preassessments, note taking, and homework in the future.
I would have to say my aha moment in Chapter 6 was on p. 92 when it talked about allowing some students to only fill out one of the ovals for a Venn Diagram, giving them them support they need to explore only one topic at a time; but later allowing them to work with a partner to complete the two oval diagram. What a perfect opportuntity to scaffold the learning for students that are not yet comfortable exploring two concepts at the same time. This also then gives them the support they need initially to create this product, and the model for later when they may be required to analyze two things at the same time. I have seen students gain a lot of confidence as well talking through something the first time, then being able to do it independently afterward. What a wonderful tool to build their comfort level with analysis.
I agree with brollins in that the book really sheds new light on an old tool in our box. We all are familiar with Venn Diagrams, but had not though about how to apply them in a multi-facited way that allow learners to reach their individual goals. I am anxious to try this out and give students the choice of whether to use 1, 2 or 3 oval diagrams - I hope to see the same results as sharong, going deeper and being more motivated by something different!
In Chapter 6, I appreciated the emphasis given to the reminder that differentiation means having different expectations and requirements for greater complexity, not just a greater volume of work. In the example given on p. 86, no matter if students were doing a one oval or a four oval Venn diagram, they were expected to show a minimum of 10 examples total. Chapter 7 allows you to follow the author's advice to surround yourself with rich resources that give product ideas for creating Think-Tac-Toes (p. 124) by cramming a multitude of good ideas in this chapter! The examples given are excellent for stimulating new ideas and helping teachers create product options beyond their usual content comfort zones (p. 123).
I agree with melanie - I loved the idea of differentiating by allowing a student to do a one oval Venn diagram!
My aha moment for chapter 6 was pg 92 when it explains that you can use Venn Diagrams for assessment tools. I think we get very used to the standard test question and answer format. I feel my students would like the Venn Diagram. My aha moment for the tic tac toe was the different expamples they used (104-107)to show different lessons. I have used this tool, but am now going to revamp it.
In response to PattyI really agree with Patty's comment about knowing where to begin. I do feel that we do reninvent the wheel a million times and I am always saying to myself, why can't their be an easy data base with wonderful lesson ideas, tools, etc. The book is VERY user friendly and gives you tools that are easily applied in the classroom.
My "aha" moment was actually on p.117. "An excellent way to begin differentiating is to choose a favorite unit and then remove your blinders that dictate this method you've designed is the only design possible." So many times, we think it is too time consuming to change things and what we do is right but it is obvious that there are so many options out there, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. The ideas and procedure are right in front of us. I can't wait to start out next year with some new ideas.
I really appreciated the differentiation of when to use what--for example Think-Tac-Toe for product differentiation and Venn Diagrams for process and content differentiation (p.83). Sometimes I need to step back from things a bit.I have to reflect on my grade level. The Venn Diagram on Weather for a third grade class helped me realize that I could probably introduce this by the end of second grade (p. 89). I really appreciated the guidance for thinking through differentiation using the Venn Diagrams and alternatives (p. 95-101).
I agree with Matthew and Sharon G that introducing the think-tac-toe with one column and then adding on a project at a time is a great idea. I am also reflecting on how to have the various activities in centers to provide students with materials and time opportunities to complete the projects in class.
My ah-a moment was on page 121-122 under Design Tasks With Varied Products. The author addresses the issue of educators have “difficulty breaking free of our content comfort zone” and this being a hindrance to student learning. In trying to implement consistent differentiation and student choice, it has been extremely time consuming and difficult to repeatedly provide options that appeal to differing ability levels and interests. However, designing activity options, there is always the lingering fear of offering an option that does not entirely focused on the subject or look like something that was a product for a social studies class. It was refreshing to read that it is significantly more important to assess “what” they learn as opposed to “how” they learn or “show” us they learn.
RE: Sara RussoI love your optimism for next year. I love learning and trying out all of these newly learning strategies and ideas, but I recognize that it is tough and sometimes get discouraged when the initial results are less than perfect. However, practice now will make a more effective implementation next year and in future years. Thanks for the reminder!
I never even thought about using Venn diagrams in these ways! In my former classroom, I used Venn diagrams for compare/contrast situations with literature or math concepts. How powerful it is to let the students take ownership and have controlled choice to make their own Venn diagram to show their understanding of the big picture. This would be an easy way to differentiate while giving the kids controlled autonomy over their product.I also liked the section on pages 95-98 when the authors discuss INTENTIONAL planning of the use of Venn diagrams. The questions they ask are just good all-around planning questions for any teaching/learning experience.
It was interesting to read s.hardie's comment about the difficulty some of her students have had with Venn diagrams. For me, they are a lovely visual piece. Sometimes you (well I) forget to incorporate ways that are not the most comfortable to us, but may work for our students. Those letters at the end of the chapter just don't do it for me, but they might work for my kids.
One of my aha's came from the diagrams presented on pages 100-101. For some students I feel that the overlapping circles may be just too much to look at, but these diagrams allow them an alternative to showing the same types of relationships in a format that might be a little easier to look at. I also think the discussion of rubric grading for both of these strategies is important...not only is it importatn for the teacher to know ahead of time how she is going to assess something that is a little more subjective, but also for the students to know how they will be assessed!
p.112-113 I agree with Katie Kavanach about the interest inventory and creating the tic tac toe options. You can create it on your students interests and multiple intelligences. I needed a model to show me how to incorporate the multiple intelligences in the tic tac toe grid. This is a great tool to assess and weave activities throughout the grid using the MI.
I too agree with shardie. My students have a hard time with Venn Diagrams so I am curious about implementing the one/two circle diagrams earlier in the year and then working up to the 3/4. I am not sure why they have this issue but I know sometimes with high school we expect them to know these things and some of the skills needed for a diagram are not there yet, which then is where the interest inventories/pre-assessments will come in very handy.
"By giving students choices on the connections they can make, it will be much more interesting and challenging for them" (page 119). This quote was in reference to Think-tac-toe but can also be applied to other types of differentiated assignments that involve student choice. From my experience in the past few months, my students have become just about 100% more engaged by using this strategy. At the end of the day, most probably do not enjoy being told what to do, so structuring a menu in such a way that meets both the teacher's expectations and gives students a choice is ideal. This guides them on the right path to success and academic growth at their level!
SharonG. said... My ah ha came in Chapter 6 page 86 when it said " The key to differentiation is not more but different"- it sounds so simple and I've been making it harder than it really should be. I completely agree that this is such a true but simple statement. While the planning and groundwork can be pretty complex, the concept to focus on is simple. This idea has really challenged me to build conceptual lessons that can be differentiated with ease simply by changing the bloom's taxonomy word or giving a three circle venn instead of two. I am finally learning how to simplify the madness and do it effectively.
In response to Scentanni’s post… I envision gifted students are delighted to have another one of their educators understands what they need… different work (more depth and change) not MORE work.
My “A-ha” was located on page 117. The concept of taking one “unit” and making adjustments or changes to assist with differentiation seems to open the door for educators in both understanding and implementation for gifted students. This is like taking small steps and yet finding the pace quickens along with strength. The gifted student(s) and educators are both winners when it comes to differentiation.