This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
What made an impact on me as an educator was on page 7. “Equity in the middle grades requires that all learners have an opportunity to participate in curriculum that is rich in the meaning and focused on thought and application. Excellence requires support necessary to show continual growth in knowledge and opportunities to work at degrees of challenge somewhat beyond their particular readiness levels, with support necessary to achieve to new levels of proficiency.” The equity part stands out for me because it impacts all learners to have opportunity to interact with content whether it is above or below. All students are engaging in the learning on their own level. The excellence part stands out for me because it is learning plus one. Students build work ethic and take ownership in their learning which becomes more meaningful to them. A Mitchell
I think what stood out most in Chapter 1, for me, was the statement on page 9, "Effective differentiation is intentional." It all goes back to task analysis. When you know where you are going, and you know the needs of the students who are on the journey with you, it makes planning the learning that much more meaningful for everyone. I think I plan for differentiation much more than I realize in my class, because as I was reading this chapter I found myself commenting on how, "I do that."
The first chapter really clarified what is differentiation and what are the key questions. Throughout the chpater it mentions that "differentiation allows for continuous progress for all students." (pg.6) I had to really stop and reflect on whether or not ALL my students were making continuous progress or was I just reviewing what they already knew. I differentiate in my lessons, but could I do a better job of it-- yes. On page 7, Roberts makes an interesting comment "students can't learn what they already know, understand, or can do.Repeating learning experiences year after year doesn't improve mastery." - This is why giving some sort of preassessment is so important... I see this more in the area of math than other subjects. -J. Choy
In response to question #1, I think what stood out for me is on page 1-2, the dinner party analogy. The host did not take into consideration any dietary needs or preferences and some of the guests might not have a good dinner experience. The dinner is a "one size fits all," and that is a perfect analogy to a classroom. If you don't differentiate or understand what the learning needs are for each student, then they will not have a great learning experience. When planning, we need to consider that all students learn different and have different needs. L.Boston
In response to j choy posted on June 4th, 3:04pm, I totally agree with your statement of how we repeat learning experiences for kids year after year after year. We do it, not only in math, but in other content areas too. Do you know how many years kids learn landforms in elementary school? The new Social Studies TEKS that are coming out this year show most elementary grade levels will be learning about Benjamin Franklin, over and over again. Also, from 3rd grade to 12th grade students are expected to recite the first line to the Declaration of Independence. Every year! There is too much repetition.
There were several parts of this chapter that had an impact on me. One was a concern that we even would fathom having a learning ceiling. I realize this seems to happen, but there are always people who need and can learn well over the expected level. I understand that a lot of teachers don't differentiate as they should due to lack of time and instruction in the area. This isn't an excuse, but since we are able to identify this, then we should be able to use this to teach educators how to differentiate with comfort. With comfort comes a sense of time well spent. However, I think what "got me" the most was that GT students are taught that little effort can give them great grades, which teaches them to continue this lack of effort.
In response to pd readings post, I also liked the analogy of the dinner table. The only problem I had with this was that when cooking and having guests over to enjoy your food, isn't important to know your guests well enough to know they dietary needs? In knowing this is an analogy, the teacher too should already know her students well enough to know most of their needs in the classroom. I am sure this is also something we were to infer from the reading.
I forgot to list the page numbers that I was referring to in my post...learning ceiling page 3, teachers lack of differentiation page 5, little effort=good grades page 7. This is for my post, kevetts, on June 7th at 2:27PM.
For me, the single most interesting piece of evidence that differentiation is essential relates to brain research. On page 6, it states that the brain undergoes physical and chemical changes when challenged, while the under challenged brain's neurons don't fire as rapidly. This speaks volumes as to the importance of differentiation. For me, it becomes more concrete knowing that challenges or the lack of have physical implications.
KharrellOn page 7, the discussion of missed opprotunities if you don't differentiate - especially with the paragraph on "When gifted students discover during..."It was nice to see something in writing to confirm what I had noticed. I think we do a disservice for GT students when we do not challenge them. They become lazy and problems in classrooms and then by high school can have a lack of interest. I have watched this happen as students move on to college, and fail, not because of lack of intelligence, but not knowing how to rise to a challenge.In response to bboza, I enjoyed reading about the brain - years ago I took a class on the brain and how it reacts, but I have long forgoten that class. This was a great reminder that we need to provide challenges for the GT students to keep their "brains in gear."In response to jchoy, I need to do more preassessment so that I move students along. I am teaching summer school and I am going to try to remember this as we go through the summer. As ldavis commented, how much repetition we have in our curriculum, are we going deeper or just going over the same facts. Perhaps we need to revisit preassessment not only for GT or advanced learners, but all learners.
I totally agree with JChoy. After reading this chapter I had a few students in mind that I may have not challenged as much as I should have especially in the area of math. I always felt like I was doing something wrong by teaching 3 digit subtraction w/regrouping to my higher level groups when the TEKS sought mastery for 2 digit subtraction with regrouping. After reading chapter 3 I feel a bit more at ease about taking them out of their grade level and setting higher expectations for them so they don't become complacent and expect everything to be easy.
What struck me as most relevant was a simple line from page 9: "Effective differentiation is INTENTIONAL." I think it ties in nicely with one of the roadblocks mentioned on page 5, which is the amount of time it takes to plan for such a lesson. I know that in every single one of my classes I have so many different levels of students, and I can tell when some are tuned out because the work is either too difficult or not challenging enough. One thing I am working on as I plan this summer is including more choice in my lessons which will allow the students to (hopefully) succeed on their individual levels and will intentionally differentiate my lessons. I do get nervous thinking about giving up so much control, but I am interested to see how this strategy helps my students.
I think the phrase “continuous progress,” made the most impact on my way of thinking. On page 3 continuous progress is partially defined as the removing of the learning ceiling. Then on page 6, fairness is explained as; allowing every student to participate in experiences that enable them to make “continuous progress.” These statements combined with the rest of the chapter made the biggest impact. Our students should be able test out of “grade level teks” once they demonstrate mastery eliminating the learning ceiling. I’ve only had one second grade student that was able to do this, he was working on third and fourth grade math in 2nd grade. By third grade his parents and I were finally able to convince others that he needed to attend fifth grade for math lessons. I also think I need to be more cognizant of differentiating for all students.In response to I Davis our students do repeat the same teks over and over starting in elementary going through to high school. First grade starts teaching landforms and we continue teaching landforms through fifth grade, sometimes repeating the same lessons. I also agree this happens in all subject areas. This is a disservice to all students.In response to what kevetts said about G.T. students learning little effort can earn great grades I see that often in elementary. We can only enter grades on grade level teks so students who are underachievers do not really participate when tasks are challenging.
This portion of page 6 is amazing: "..the brain changes physically and chemically when challenged. without challenge, the brain doesn't increase its capacity or speed of learning, and neurons don't fire". Wow, what a dis-service to the GT kiddos when they are not challenged. Isn't our job to increase capacity in all learners?
In response to PD Readings, posted on June 5, she refers to the dinner party analogy on pages 1&2. It is so true that unless differentiation occurs in the classroom, many may leave the "table" hungry...
In response to JChoy on June 4th: Preassessment is key. Those poor students study landforms EACH and EVERY year through freshman year in high school. Please, let's find a way to stop the tedious repetition.
“Fair is when every child has the opportunity to participate in learning experiences that allow for continuous progress” (p. 6, last paragraph). I learned in my teacher education courses that “fair” was not giving every child the same thing, rather giving what he or she needs. However, I have always felt a bit guilty spending more time with certain students, generally lower-performing, than others. This chapter caused me to reconsider my standard for fair. My emphasis should not necessarily be on their time with me, rather on the quality of learning experiences each one is able to participate in.
In response to what kevetts said, I agree that if administrators aren't seeing the differientation in the classroom they want then we need to really examine how we are training teachers. If someone wants me to create independent differientated math workstations, then I need to see examples of these workstations. It would be nice to be given the materials and time to create these stations so we are not always having to pay for everything ourselves. I also agree that GT students have learned that little effort = A+ because our expectations are the same for everyone when that shouldn't be the case. GT students come to use ahead of their peers, so our expectatations for them should be differentiated. It's my job to push them and stretch their thinking...it shouldn't always be easy.
In response to Jchoy's first comment: On page 7, Roberts makes an interesting comment "students can't learn what they already know, understand, or can do. Repeating learning experiences year after year doesn't improve mastery." - This is why giving some sort of preassessment is so important... I see this more in the area of math than other subjects. -I also see the need for differentiating more in math than in the other subjects. Not only do they come to with different levels of abilities, I’ve found that the rate of learning can be extremely different as well: some children simply learn quicker than others. (p.40). So continuous formative assessment is necessary as well to ensure that all of their needs are being met.
Impact? I took a lot of notes and I've heard the research before, but it makes complete sense to me that gifted students can conclude that being smart means that things are easy(p. 7). When something challenging comes along, it's difficult for them to put in the effort since they have minimal experience with challenging material. I find it disturbing that students with such a high ability could underachieve as a result of the lack of challenging curriculum. I liked the definition of fairness on p. 6- "...when every child has the opportunity to participate in learning experiences that allow for continuous progress." I am interested in the 20 most important points regarding bright students.
In response to JChoy's comment regarding being given time to work on differenting lessons, units, etc...planning time is essential to being successful. I'm looking forward to continuing the reading to see what examples are given...the spelling example was simple and logical on p.42...
The main impact this chapter had on me was the wording on page 7 of continuing progress. We get so caught up with what the “standards” are that we don’t always have time to look at what each child is learning. Each student learns at their own rate and we have to keep the quick learners challenged as we are monitoring the slower learners. The main road block to this is time and resources. One caveat is to remember that just because a student is a quick learner in one subject, they may be a much slower learner in another content area. Assessing on some level is crucial to keeping up with the students.
The dinner party example demonstrated to me what I already feared, that if people have an issue with something another does, person will try to find a way for it to be the other person’s problem. The chef makes excuses or enables himself/herself to believe that the issue must be due to some deficiency in their personality (they don’t like my cooking, they are just too fussy because what I make was perfect). People are very defensive of their “favorite dish”. (pages 1-2)Know your audience. If they have seen it before and understand it, they need a new challenge or they will regress. I am glad the author mentioned working within the existing curriculum and not writing independent curriculum because, even though we may not want to, there is some degree of focus on the state mandated testing, which in the case of Texas teachers is the TAKS tests (soon to be STAR tests). (page 3)I believe technology is a vital component of maximizing differentiated instruction. I hope this book places some emphasis on this. (personal observation - no page reference)The author states that time is the number one reason teachers do no differentiate. She then justifies why it is important to differentiate which I concur with whole-heartedly. However, I am not sure if she (yet) has given a way to differentiate that does allows it to be done in a timely fashion. It is as if she said teachers do not have the time, but instead of saying how they can do this in a timely manner, goes off to justify why it is a maximum benefit of students’ time (she answered a different question – students’ time as opposed to teachers’ preparation time). This is similar to the chef who, when hearing complaints, justifies their actions by addressing a different issue. (pages 5-6)I agree with the author that when all students are learning, assessment results will show gains. My concern is that the type of assessment goes hand in hand with differentiation. For example, I believe a key component of differentiated learning is to allow the learner to demonstrate understanding in a way they are comfortable with. Examples include through art, use of technology, written composition, oral presentation, etc. State mandated tests are geared, in my opinion, only to those who excel in composition and written tests. Assessments can be tailored to individual learners. When will state mandated tests not treat everyone the same? (page 8)
In response to dani pico, I fall into the same issue in that I spend more time with lower performing students. I also need to give GT and higher performing students more time and not use as a crutch the fact that they perform well with little direction.
“Differentiation allows continuous progress for all students!, pg. 7, is the statement that impacted me the most in Chapter 1. Allowing the learner the opportunity to progress at his/her own pace rather than plodding along with the crowd would have been such a rewarding experience for me as a student. If differentiation is to be successful, it must be intentional, pg.9. It gives everyone a chance to tap into their true interests.
I was struck by the idea that students will miss an opportunity to learn if the curriculum is not differentiated (p.7). Differentiation takes time. It might seem more efficient to plan a “one size fits all” lesson, but in fact that shorter preparation time will actually be wasted if no learning results because the lesson was not meeting the student’s needs. The problems of students who are not working on grade level because they are missing basic skills are very apparent. The problem of the chronically underachieving gifted student is not always as apparent, and can be more difficult to address. Chronic underachievement “becomes difficult to reverse” (p7).I am looking forward to learning how to improve motivation in gifted students at the high school level. I look forward to comments and suggestions from colleagues about what has worked for you.
I liked that the first chapter stated very clearly who this book is for. Who should read it (pg 3). One of my classes that I took at UH focused on differentiating in your classroom, so I am familiar with many of the concepts BUT am unsure where to begin. The first chapter made me feel welcome and that I can do it. I am excited that this book will help me to get started!
In response to marty.ethridgeThat's exactly what's wrong with standardized testing. The uniqueness of the student and the ways in which they learn are totally ignored!Cookie cutter education has never worked and never will.
Chapter 1 was a great example of the importance of differentiation. I loved the example the author gave (dinner plate) on page 1. It is so relevant to what we do as teachers daily. Chapter 1 made me think of the way I differentiate. I differentiate instruction for my all of my students but I believe if I questioned myself more often about my learners my lessons would be more meaningful and would benefit my students more and allow them to become more successful. On page 3, the phrase “continuous progress” stood out.Differentiation is so important so that each student may reach their full learning potential. Continuous monitoring through pre and post assessment will allow me to differentiate more effectively. I will utilize pre-post assessments to maximize my lessons as I differentiate, to enrich and enhance learning in my classroom.
Page 11, "When differentiated learning experiences are provided, all students win. Winning means that each student is learning at appropriately challenging levels and all students are making continuous progress." -This statement sums it up for me- I feel that each learner, no matter their starting level, should be "grown" and worth should be added to their knowledge base in general. (Not just GT or Spec Ed learners, but ALL learners. Even in my yoga class the instructor provides slight modifications to the movements/positions so that each individual learner is met at his/her level.
The Dinner party analogy is spot on (pp 1 & 2). I never quite grasped exactly what "differentiation" meant till I read those pages. For some reason I assumed it meant "more" work for those who already knew the topic - and what it really means is "different" work. And oh, do I agree with Scrump re. the quote on page 6 "the brain changes physically and chemically when challenged. without challenge, the brain doesn't increase its capacity or speed of learning, and neurons don't fire". When I am totally engrossed in something that In something that intrigues me (learning a new teckie toy or Tudor history – my current 2 passions) I can feel my brain “working”. When I finally come up for air I feel tired but it’s a good tired. I also very much related to the statement on page 7 “GT students may conclude that being smart means doing things easily.” I see that with many of our bright 4th & 5th graders who flounder once they start “reading for content” as opposed to “learning to read”. I also see it in myself. I was the chronic under achiever in elementary school and my study skills were very, very poor. I ran into trouble when I found myself in classes where I actually had to apply some effort. I didn't acquire "study skills" till midway though college.
I just realized that my first comment is under my blog name which gives no clue as to who I am.So I've changed it to my name which is still doesn't give much of a clue but it's better than the blog name.
Chapter 1- page 3 "The focus of this book is on differentiating for students so that learning occurs." In that same paragraph, the phases "remove the learning ceiling and allow each student to make continuous progress" made an impact on me. Continuous progress must be individual for each child to ensure that they are engaged and motivated to learn. This will apply to all my students in all content areas. It may not be in the same way or at the same rate but all students will get there. Pretesting is necessary so that no child is "running in the same spot over and over." Yes, I liked that cartoon example on page 10. For my GT learners, this is especially important. Repeating things that they already know just leads to boredom, frustration, and behavior issues. At times, we may even be surprised at what they already have mastered and what they haven't.
I was struck, in chapter one, by the title of all things--"One-Size-Fits-All? You've Got to Be Kidding!" One size NEVER fits all so of course we must differentiate for the students we teach. We are responsible for teaching the children who walk in the door wherever they are. When I think back on lessons I've taught, I can successfully trace the failed lessons to trying to make one strategy or technique fit for all the students. I am looking forward to adding strategies to my toolbox to help gifted students succeed. Secondly, I love the simple way Roberts & Inman connect differentiation and assessment. They say "Differentiation and assessment go hand in hand to lead student learning." [p.8] Assessments are the tools needed to know where to go next with children; they are invaluable to successful differentiation.
In response to croth, I agree that assessment must come before differentiation for all individual needs to be met and for each student to be successful. It must be planned and intentional!
The passage that really stood out to me was located on page 7 discussing missed opportunities. Gifted children and their parents conclude early on that getting high praise with little to no effort. In essence without challenge, means we have children that are not only bored, but also being harmed and set up for an expectation of mediocrity and underachievement. When we don't prioritize time for differentiation, we are developing the attitudes in students that we are trying to change in all students.In response to s.guillory on June 10th at 2:19PM, I completely agree with you. Differentiation allows for all students the opportunity to experience meaningful growth. As educators, we have to decide this is important and has value, before change will occur from the normal expectations.In response to svankampen on June 10th, 11:09 PM, with all the challenges that teachers face, it is hard to find a starting place. I think we just have to make it a priority. Yes, the tone in this book, does make it feel like achieving this goal is attainable.
kharrell - June 8 - Pretesting before beginning a new concept or unit of study would be a great idea for all of our learners. We would know so much more about our kids and where to take them to the next step in their continuous progress.
In response to ldavis June 4th 9:33 AM, I agree with your thinking about how differentiation is intentional and how it is linked to task analysis. When teachers know their students well and have analyzed a learning task, students will be more successful. I think this part of the learning cycle sometimes gets overlooked when planning because the learning task is so clear in the teacher’s head that she feels no further thinking is necessary. However, it is critical to student success.
In response to catie and brian on June 8 3:02. I totally agree with what you said, time and planning has been a huge factor on differienting lessons. This summer I will also be working on making changes on my lessons and freshing it up to meet every students.
In response to scrump on June 9th, I agree that it is the job of anyone in the realm of education to help provide a valuable, stimulating educational opportunity to ALL learners. Just as in any business, this is our area of specialty, and our clients are the learners. Like any business, outstanding service, basic service, or sub-par service can be provided. We should all strive to be the Chick-fil-A and Nordstroms of education - do the best for our clientele!
In response to J. Choy -I agree that it is very important to give preassessments. I think that this could allow science teachers the opportunity to set up small groups in the classroom. All students don't have to work on the same thing at the same time. I think that this would be a LOT of really hard work but once you mastered it, it would be really awesome for the kids and you (the teacher!). I am going to attempt this in the upcoming year.
In response to April Tavilson -I couldn't agree more about prioritizing time for differentiation. I think that it will be a tremendous amount of work and effort. I have encountered students that are very bored in school and I see them as continuing on in that manner unless someone somewhere steps up to change it.
In response to svankampen june 12th - I completely agree on the importance of Pre-assment. Pre-assessment allows you to know where your students are at and how you will go about meeting their academic needs. The author states that differentiation must be intentional. After pre-assessment is where I begin my differentiation and I plan accordingly.
What had the most impact on me from Chapter One were the words “continuous progress” (pg 3). I have long felt that students and teachers should be held accountable for one year of growth from where a student is when they start the year. While I don’t have the exact answer to how this could be assessed, it is much more appropriate to expect all students to make a year’s growth than to expect all students to be “ready” to pass a test on one day out of the year and to use that as the basis of judgment in so many ways thus forcing teachers to spend a large portion of their time working with students who need the most help “to make it” and dividing up the rest of their left over time to work on meeting the needs of students who “already have it. If all students were expected to make continuous progress throughout the entire year, teacher’s would have to differentiate for all students in order to meet this goal.In response to AnnM, I also believe that if students are to make continuous progress, they need to be allowed to test out of grade level learning standards. I had a similar experience with a student last year who was obviously so far ahead that his parents and I got him the chance to test out of 3rd grade math. Once the results of the test were in, he moved into a 4th grade classroom for math. In response to I Davis, when you look at our curriculum, you continually see a repetition throughout the grade levels which is wonderful for the ones who need something repeated on a continuous basis in order to remember/learn it but is torture on those who learned it the first time and need to be stimulated in a new way.
In response to Croth on June 10, I have the preassessment down in my head and the idea that differentiation has to happen, but finding the time to come up with the other options is my biggest challenge.