This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
Came across this article and thought the differences in the perspectives of the classroom teacher (experience with interacting with the students) and scientists (objective testers) were very interesting.Learning-style Research Under Firehttp://www.eschoolnews.com/media/eschoolnews/eSchoolNewsFeb10.pdf
I feel the key components to managing a differentiated classroom is classroom management that clearly states a goal and expectations that can be acheived by the cooperative group. I use cooperative learning in my reading or literature groups. They are assigned an instructional level chapter book with specific tasks assigned: reading, new vocabulary, plot or problem, character traits, illustrator, and open discussion of squence events and detail of the story. They can express their feelings positive or negative without being judged in the group. The evaluation is the group presentation to the class with all their recorded work. They really like this and makes them feel successful and builds their character and self esteem.
The two key components to managing a differentiated classroom are managing grouping and managing time. I thought the list of keys to successful grouping on page 144 was especially helpful. I find it hard sometimes when putting kids in groups because you naturally want to put the high/medium/and low kids together in groups but this does not always work best because they are not exposed to different types of learners. I thought it was interesting that the book said they don't always have to be in groups, but can be in rows and working on different assignments.
I agree with Wanda Lewis in that classroom management is the key to managing a differentiated classroom. When kids know what is expected of them from the beginning, and it is communicated and enforced in an effective manner, learning is optimized. As well, a healthy and happy environment is created.
I agree with the previous posters. There is an inclination to try to have different groups based on placing high-medium-low students in the same group to try to encourage the low students to advance. Unfortunately what happens is the high/medium students can end up not getting the most they can out of a lesson. It is interesting also that much of our educational theory has placed an importance on working on flexible grouping that adapts to situations(p. 142) , however, it certain cases some kids work better alone, and that is OK as well. (p. 144) This aspect of varying the way students are grouped can help keep the classroom moving and the students engaged.
What I understood from the information presented in this book was that the key to managing a differentiated classroom are as follows:Student understanding of differentiationPreassmentCareful planningIntent behind your groupingAs mentioned on p.145 if you preassess and carefully plan "you will be better able to design challenging tasks" and if those tasks are "harmoniously matched with the child" the students will spend more valuable time on task and be more motivated by the activity or product that has been tailored to their abilities, interests or learning style. With increased motivation, increased time on task the need for "managing" behaviour should decrease and student achievement increase. This, of coarse, does not eliminate the need for a management plan in which students have been explicitly taught the classroom expectations, but should help with eliminating some of the misbehaviors.
1.I think that the key components in managing a differentiated classroom are preassessment, grouping and timing. Page 133 “2. Preassessment Question- Who already knows, understands and /or can use the content to demonstrate the skill.” GT students know a lot when they come into the class and the are bored to tears if they get the same material over and over. Grouping, page 134 “Tracking is not best practice-it’s not even good or mediocre practice.” Students have to be in groups that work for a particular project and these groups have to change throughout the school year. Time. I read all the ideas about time, being a prisoner etc and for a middle school science teacher time is the largest factor in determining what happens in a classroom. We don’t have time.
I liked sara.russos comment about varying the groups, even letting students work alone at times. Groups need to change to fit the needs of the students. Sometimes they work as one big group, sometimes they just want to be left alone. Teachers and administrators need to be comfortable with this type of setting.
I believe the key components in managing a differentiate classrooms is managing time.On page 145, I think it summed everything up for managing a differentiated classroom….“When a climate that encourages differentiation is established at the beginning of the school year, students understand that all people learn in different ways, bring different experiences to the learning environment, and learn at different paces. They are taught to respect those differences and be open to the flexible use of time.This applies to my classroom because this is usually my reason for NOT using differentiation. After reading this book, I need to be more prepared, so I can manage my time and work on designing challenging task so all my students have continuous progress.
I agree with scentanni about successful grouping on page 144……the list of keys to successful grouping will come in handy. I like the one that some kids work better alone which is so true some students have a hard time working in a group
One of the components of managing the differentiated classroom is the ability to use time wisely. As stated on page 147, "We must, as intentional educators concerned with continuous progress for all, take back time." This requires long term planning, focusing on the key concepts of a unit, coordinating resources, and developing appropriate learning experiences. Too often, time gets away from us when we differentiate, and the mad rush to complete all the TEKS leaves our students gasping for air. Another key component for managing differentiated student groupings is on-going assessment to determine ability and readiness. As stated on page 134, "You must have sound reasoning for grouping kids, whether it will be in cooperative groups, pairs, or groups based on interest." Too often I have grouped students solely on their benchmark scores, but as this chapter stresses, variety and flexibility are the keys to success.
One of the key components of managing the differentiated classroom is successful grouping as stated on page 144. I love the key points...having a strong reason for grouping, variety of activities, challenging for all with each student being acountable for a task,and varying they way kids are grouped. I have typically grouped kids by ability or by interests, but I am anxious to try some knew things with my class in their next book club.
I agree with sanchezh's comments about preassessment and careful planning. Sanchez states, "As mentioned on p.145 if you preassess and carefully plan "you will be better able to design challenging tasks" and if those tasks are "harmoniously matched with the child" the students will spend more valuable time on task and be more motivated by the activity or product that has been tailored to their abilities, interests or learning style." I think this is key!
Oliverl states that varying groups is important, and students should be allowed to work independently, if they choose. I agree with this. Most of my students enjoy collaborative work groups, but there are students who prefer to work alone (often, these are my GT kids). In our zeal to differentiate, let us not forget that one form of differentiation is acknowledging the "loner." A group of one can prove very productive.
Key components to managing a differentiated classroom are: choosing differentiated units carefully with preassessment, ongoing and end assessments (p. 147). The DAP tool (p. 153) helps manage time by allowing assessment of different products at different levels on four different components. Grouping students according to interests, gender, ability, or other manner (p. 142) is also key.
I feel that one of the key components to a differentiated classroom is on page 139-flexible grouping. Even though they are GT students and can perform tasks using higher leveling thinking skills does not mean that they always will nor does it mean that you, as the teacher, want them to. By this I mean that if you always group the GT students together they will never be able to leave that small social circle. Therefore so activities need to be made/adjusted in order to have the groups mixed. Many groups/activities can be made to appeal to all learners by just changing the interests and/or end product.
I agree with what sanchezh stated as keys to managing a differentiated classroom. I think that the preassessment piece is critical in planning effective activities. If you know exactly (or as close to possible) where your students are then the activities you design will be on target and the students will stay focused and on task.
I also liked sara.russos comment about varying the groups, even letting students work alone at times. Groups need to change to fit the needs of the students. I find that many times after a group project or any assignment that the students were needed to work together in groups that many would like to take a break and complete an activity alone. Many times I observe students that get worked up and stressed more easily over a group assignment due to the need to motivate some to them wanting to produce a good product.
In regards to managing a differentiated classroom I agree with what the authors state on page 133. "When students are given appropriate choices and when learning experiences are matched to their needs, interests, readiness, or abilities, far fewer cases of managing (mis)behavior exist." If you keep students' interests in mind and can hold their attention then you will have less disruptions in your classroom. The keys to managing a differentiated classroom are managing your students groups, managing time, preassessment, and expectations. In regards to managing time you have to be clear in your reasons for creating your groups (pg. 134). Even if you are creating partners you have to have a purpose for creating those partnerships. With a clear purpose then you can make the best choices possible for grouping and there is less opportunity for off task behavior. Time management is another crucial aspect of managing a differentiated classroom. Time management for the teacher as well as for the students is key to having a well running classroom. When developing differentiated practices for your classroom it is important to remember to work smarter not harder. By using the strategies in this book there are numerous ways to incorporate differentiation in the classroom while not increasing the workload. Plus with well planned activities then time on task increases and students stay engaged longer thus allowing you to have more time to work with small groups. One way to determine the activities that meet the needs of your students is with preassessment. By preassessing your students you can determine their level and get them grouped with activities that are meaningful and relevant to them. By having a goal in mind your preassessment has a purpose and can drive the differentiation and grouping of your students. It allows you to be more prepared to meet the needs of your students. Setting clear expectations and guidelines from the beginning of the year allow for student success. The consistent management of your expectations at the beginning of the year will pay dividends during the rest of the year. When students know what is expected of them they will rise to the occasion and spend more time on task and take the necessary time and steps to completing activities that meet the designated criteria. My classroom setting is a little bit different since I run a science lab. When the classes come to my room it is to complete a hands on science experiment. While there is little room for differentiation I can incorporate as much inquiry as possible so that differentiation can occur within the lab setting. By allowing students to create their own investigations they can focus on their strengths.
I feel one of the most important components in managing a differentiated classroom is lesson preparation. If the teacher shows up and wings it everyday, the students will lose out on valuable instruction time lost from classroom management problems. Grouping is a very important aspect of differentiated classrooms. I agree with pg 144- “always have a strong reason for grouping kids”. Everyone in the group should participate and be challenged. In the eleven years that I have taught, I have group students in cooperative learning groups, flexible groups, and mixed-ability grouping. I like grouping lower level students together because I have found that they rise to the challenge as opposed to the mixed grouping where the higher level students might do most of the work. Another key component of differentiated classrooms is time management. This is where your lesson preparation is so important. I like social studies hook, line, and sinker where time is managed so that you have an opening, middle, and closure for each lesson.
I like what Sanchezh wrote on April 9th. The components for managing a differentiated classroom, "Student understanding of differentiationPreassmentCareful planningIntent behind your grouping". These are contingent on students' awareness of academic and behavioral expectations, as is noted at the end of the blog entry.
Time management is important for a differentiated classroom, as stated mcushing. This text provides strategies for working smarter. The working harder is a given. The differentiated classroom cannot easily be initiated by the faint at heart. I can hear that blog entry noting the working with the end in mind.
I agree with scentanni that it is hard to not always try and group kids the way you are comfortable grouping. The row idea is something I have never done, but want to try and do. Time management is such a critical role in our jobs. Teachers who collaborate have an advantage of talking about how long certain aspects of the lesson took or how long they think it will take.
I feel that the most important component for managing a differentiated classroom was stated on p. 133 when the authors wrote “interested and engaged students stay on task.” Students who are bored and are not engaged will create disciplinary problems. The next step is to make sure your are grouping your students correctly. According to p. 142, each group has to be equally challenged. I agree with the statement that you can’t always group in the same way. I like all of the suggestions, even the one on page 144 that says that it is even ok to let kids work independently. The part about time constrains hit home with me. I know that most teachers feel like there are not enough hours in the day. The book does a great way in explaining how it can easily be done.I am very guilty of being a teacher who always uses mixed grouping ability. The book claims that it is not always fair to the kids to do this. I like that I now have suggestions of different ways to group. I teach AP and Academic classes and find that grouping is easier in my AP classes because the learning levels are not so spread out. Reading this section made me rethink how I am going to do things in my class.
@brollinsI am in agreement with brollins with the commment that "I need to be better prepared." I am going to take some of my free time this summer and reread this book. I want to read it slowly and come up with specific strategies that are suggested throughout the book.
I think one of the main components to managing a differentiated classroom is planning. The author does a good job of explaining this on p. 134.“Although debated in some circles, grouping is key to continuous progress for kids- if the grouping is intentionally managed. You must have sound reasoning for grouping kids, whether it will be in cooperative groups, pairs, or groups based on interest. Whether your intent is optimal learning or social development, definitively decide why you want kids together or working alone and then consider how you want kids grouped. ” The last sentence really made everything click for me. I find myself putting groups together at the last minute, and not taking the time to plan according to what my intent is for the lesson. I also find myself using the same type of grouping over and over and not rotating my groups often enough. I really like all of the different ideas they gave us in this chapter for grouping and the Key to Successful Grouping on p.144. I am going to make sure I am taking the time to intentionally plan groups based on preassessments and other data when I am planning each lesson.
I don't think I've ever really given much thought to how I have grouped kids to work together. This chapter made me think about that a lot. I found the group definitions on pp. 134-144 very interesting. Reading those (and rereading them) has made me a more thoughtful "grouper". It all goes back to being intentional with every part of instruction. I would have liked a little more on managing time. That seems to always be an area where I need help. Most of the time, getting through the assignments isn't the problem. My issue is that the kids may want to spend more time with something than me, or I want to spend more time on something than the kids do. I need to think outside the box and be more flexible with my time in planning, teaching and the amount of time the kids feel they need, as stated on pages 146-147. It's not always going to fit in neat little increments.
Like many others stated above I see clear expectations as the key element in management of a differentiated classroom. I have been participating in a year long science inquiry training in addition to this book club. As a result of both trainings I have been thinking a lot about how to train future classes to be more independent and also manage a variety of assessments. I keep coming back to the idea of the gradual release model because as a teacher of younger children I need to provide them with enough experiences to have a base to chose from. I think as hmelancon said planning is the key. For me planning involves all aspects--what I want the students to learn from the lessons, the unit, their projects--everything underpinned by preassessment, interests and groupings. I agree with the authors that we are prisoners of time (p. 146) --our schedules are dictated by external factors so it is really takes creative and thorough planning to differentiate. I am already thinking about how I can start next year with the ideas from this book in place to support all that I do--especially in social studies and science.
I think it all comes down to that intentionality that the authors mention so frequently. You've got to plan. Frontloading our work, as in preplanning, can make it so much easier down the road. You have to know what your goals are for your students. Work smarter, not harder. It has taken me a very long time to almost figure out how to do that. In my role as SIS, I have to plan and make goals for the teachers and students I work with. In the DDI refresher course that the SISes are taking, we've been given a horizontal teaching guide sheet that's helping me set goals for the teachers I work with. It could be used to plan units of study as well.
I agree with Rebecca J. I have several students that prefer to work individually and always produce great work. I think it is important to allow those students the chance to work individually since working in groups can sometime be stressful. I also like the idea of having students that work on their own meet with a small group to present their results. This allows them to have the opportunity to work with other students and hear different ideas that they might not have thought of on their own.
Being a Resource teacher allows me to be in many different classrooms providing support facilitation every day. Chapter 10 (p. 167-168) underscores how fortunate I am to be in a community of teachers who do see the value and importance of creating a differentiated classroom. It is great to have so many colleagues that share the philosophy that all students need to be making progress in order to say learning is happening in the classroom. The essential feature in the differentiated classroom is a teacher who truly believes that every student can learn, and that every student has the right to feel engaged, empowered and successful on a regular basis
I agree with Sara Russo that it's interesting how the authors turn 'common wisdom' about grouping practices on their head--that these practices don't always work best for kids. It's not what I learned in all those classes!
Managing the differentiated classroom first begins with the educator. When an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance of diversity is introduced and is in place then the educator can continue with setting high expectations, assessment, and continue being intentional with grouping and timing. (pgs. 133, 134)
I agree with rebeccaj and jmelancon that it is good to allow students to work alone if that is their strong preference. I really like jmelancon's idea of having those students present their product to a small group so they have an opportunity to share and discuss their work.
For me the biggest component in managing a differentiated classroom is TIME...time to get everything organized and time to get it implemented and running successfully in my classroom! Of course, monitoring and adjusting is also critical, as what may have worked for one group of students may play out quite differently for another, depending on the chemistry of different classes! Like many others here, I, too, recognize the importance of the flexible grouping scenarios presented in the book starting on p. 134, however, when we are so data driven it can and often does make truly flexible grouping difficult to happen!
Managing time and managing groups seem to be the two major components in managing the differentiated classroom. However, the three key questions at the beginning of the chapter on p.133 appear to me to be the most important to keep in mind when managing any classroom. If one stays truly cognizant of what all students need to know, who already knows it, and what kind of delivery is needed to help each student progress, then differentiation cannot help but happen. I think the authors were correct as well on p. 145 in saying that the creation of a climate that encourages differentiation and makes it safe for students to learn in different ways is essential for any kind of continuous student progress to take place.
I agree with rebecca j. that managing time is one of the most difficult aspects of differentiation. It is hard to think of adding more pieces to any part of days that are already packed. However, I think she is also right in saying that efficient long term planning can make a critical difference in students' learning and is worth the effort.
Some key conponents in managing differentiation within my classroom is planning, immediate feedback and flexibility and choice. I believe that with careful planning for different possible choices for the kids to have- you help them become more engaged in their learning. They feel empowered when they get to chose from a menu or possibilities and therefore are more accountable for making those good choices for themselves. I believe in giving immediate feedback so that the students know how they are doing and can adjust their learning behaviors to step it up if they are slacking, or redirect themselves before they waste time doing something that they don't need to do. I also believe that getting to know your kids is the key to any success in your class. You have to build those relationships. If you don't know who's coming to the party- how can you possibly know what to do to ensure they have fun and learn?
Sorry for the confusion, but I have the 1st edition so my page numbers are different: page 115 (intent); 121-124 (flexibility).The key components in managing a differentiated classroom are intent and flexibility. This study could not have come at a more perfect time. I spent much of the 1st semester planning and preparing to take the plunge and differentiate 100% of the time especially for the students who exhibit high ability. Needless to say, phew, it has been a mammoth task and I have found that many of the mistakes or obstacle I have faced has come as a result of my not consistently designing lessons, projects, and groups with intent. At the other end of the spectrum, I have found that my saving grace when facing management issues is flexibility (based on individual student performance, ability, and interest.
Managing differentiated instruction can be quite tricky. To start, the instructor must communicate that they will be running a differentiated classroom to the students, so that the students know why everyone is not doing the same thing. Express that sometimes students will have menu options based on pre-assessment, learning style, interests, etc. (pg. 139-141). If the class as a whole gets comfortable with differentiated learning, then the "fairness" issue is not an issue. On a different note, managing this type of learning means the instructor needs to come up with key concepts to focus on and then give activities at varying levels or on varying topics. The instructor must be organized and have clear expectations, preferably in rubric form, for each student for each activity. This semester has been incredibly challenging in terms of differentiating because it is extremely time consuming: planning, grading, etc. However, I'm hoping next year I can build off my ideas and start getting some sort of flow going.
Brollins' comment about managing time is spot on. Many people touched on this, but he said it very well that "the key components in managing a differentiate classrooms is managing time." Can't we all use a bit of practice in time-management? How much more efficient would we be as teachers? This is definitely something to strive for and very key to a successful differentiated classroom.
The key components to managing the differentiated classroom are (pg. 134) managing student grouping and (pg 144) managing time. The management of time can prove to sometimes be a challenge for me—it seems like there is never quite enough time in the day! Recently, in PGP, we’ve had to be quite flexible with time and our planning . The groups took longer than we planned on a recent concept, but the great part was that the learners were so engaged in the topic they wanted to keep investigating and learning. I felt that the young people could really explore the content thoroughly (page 144). With that being said, though, we also don’t have a “textbook” that we must finish by year’s end in that course. What has also been successful in our PGP class is using anecdotal data for grouping within the PGP class. I have to say that I was in total agreement with the idea that some learners work better alone (page 144). We have some learners who work alone in our class (they asked for that) and seemed so pleased that they could have that option.
I think flexible grouping is key to managing a differentiated classroom (page 139). The book says it promotes achievement, especially in math and reading, and I wholeheartedly agree. If students were in only one group all day, they would not get their scholastic or emotional needs met. Sometimes grouping is by level, by ESL need, by mixed ability, by gender, or interest, etc., etc.
I agree with these comments by patricet: "I think it all comes down to that intentionality that the authors mention so frequently. You've got to plan. Frontloading our work, as in preplanning, can make it so much easier down the road. You have to know what your goals are for your students. Work smarter, not harder."I'm trying to work smarter, not harder, so I can accomplish all my goals for the class, for being an understanding coworker, and for leading a healthy life. Preplanning and goal setting are key for me.
I like what was said on page 139 about flexible grouping, "Grouping for instructional purposes includes a variety of approaches (remember that variety is the key here). And then it goes on to mention about limiting their exposure to working with others. As a grade level, we have grouped kids based on needs across different classrooms and with different teachers. And like everyone has said before and I don't want to beat a dead horse, it does take a lot of pre-planning and assessments to know how these groups should look and what their needs are. It also helps to expand their thinking.
In response to Sharon Gabriel: I also agree that getting to know your kids is the best way to develop activities to meet their needs that they would also be interested in.
I like what jeane said about being a resource and inclusion teacher to different classrooms. I am assigned to 5th grade as the SpEd teacher to provide services for resource, co-teach, and inclusion students. It is my responsiblity to differentiate, modify curriculum per IEP and implement accommodations and modifications for each individual student. My teachers are always willing to help and rise to the challenge so that OUR students are given the best tools to succeed in their educational learning. suggestions and on the best way to differentiate
OOPS! Please disregard the end starting with suggestions. Not paying attention.
corrin hit the nail on the head. The main key to differentiation is lesson preparation. There is no way to do this on the fly. We have all seen the teachers that are constantly trying to figure out what they are doing the next day or even on the same day. Differentiation would be virtually impossible. You have to plan in advance. However that pre-planning helps things run so much more smoothly which will then give you more time to work with the students.
I agree with Scentanni about how classroom management is the key to managing a differentiated classroom. I also appreciate oliverl’s comment about that of being aware of the fact that groups need to change in order to continually meet the needs of the students.