This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
In Chapter 1 they comment on the fact that many teachers do not differentiate because "little or no instruction has been provided to teachers about how to differentiate." Chapter 3 does just that. I think my "ahas" were more in line with the idea that they were actually giving suggestions on ways other teachers have differentiated for their students. On page 21 they suggest that we start at the beginning, on day one, setting up the idea that we all learn differently and so we won't all be doing the same math worksheet, or the reading the same page in the social studies book, and that's okay. I've heard much of the research cited in this chapter before, so it wasn't new for me. What made an impact was last part of the chapter, starting on page 37 all the way to the end. Each subheading had different ideas and ways of thinking that I hadn't considered before. One that really stood out was on page 40 under Pace of Instruction. For years I was told that we don't go above grade level in math, we just go deeper. The teacher in this section took a group of math students into the next grade level because they were ready for that work. Also, on page 41 under Student Input, this teacher had a very creative way to accomodate students in word study, so that all students were learning, without her needing to plan individual spelling lists for each child each week. I think this chapter had some good, practical ideas.
In chapter 1 page 9 there are 3 questions to guide in helping teachers to differentiate their instruction:1. Planning Question (What do students need to know...I hope most were comfortable with this one while planning)2. Preassessing Question ( Who already knows this…I do this part but not as often I as I should)3. Differentiation Question- ( What can I do for him…This is where we hope to educate teachers so they/we feel comfortable enough to do this for our students)In chapter 2 page 14 the figure 2.1 with the levels of Academic Success was eye opening. A lot of parents at our school are happy with their children as long as their grades are high and they don't even question what they haven't learned. Level 2 sounds like something everyone would strive for until you read level 3...that should be everyone's goal: parents, teachers, and the children themselves. Who wouldn’t want students to be lifelong learners?In chapter 3 I liked the idea of using the "How Do I Learn It" activity from pages 22-23 to show that we all have different kinds of strengths, so we all won't be working in the same way on the exact same things. I thought that was eye opening and I hope I remember to start my year this way. I also liked the communication component of this chapter. It won’t be easy to convince some of the parents at my school, but I think if the principal, parents and students are aware of what is going on from the start and throughout the year, this should help them to work alongside me and guide their children to become lifelong learners.Then on page 34 and 35, I totally agreed with the quote from NAGC, Tomlinson. He basically stated that the No Child Left Behind Act needs to support both equity and excellence. That word “excellence” is the key when considering that it goes beyond the proficient expectations (p.37).
In response to l.davis I also have been taught that we are to teach deeper rather than moving onto the next level of study. But my thougt about this is, isn't the next level of study going deeper? I moved from 2nd to 3rd grade last year and realized that we are teaching the same material but just on the next level..."deeper." I also used to do my word study as explained on page 41. I loved it as did the parents. I used to give all the students a pretest on Mondays and then those who made a 95+ would get a list of words that they spelled incorrectly along with other words that followed that pattern. My only problem with this is that I don't know what list to start with now since we are trying so hard to give the words their way words. And it started to get difficult to keep up with all of their misspelled words. Any suggestions?
In response to K Evetts June 6th 9:50am I couldn't agree more about starting the year with the activity How Do I Learn It? What a great idea! I'm planning to start that way. It's a good lesson for laying a foundation that we are all different, even as adults, and so the way we tackle the tasks in front of us will look different for everyone. This really jumped out at me. I think I'm going to start a list of ideas from the book and save it on my desktop so that when the school year starts up, I'll have that list ready to go. No worry of forgetting in August.
There were so many interesting parts of Chapter 3, I don't know where to begin. I especially enjoyed the section on maintaining high expectations beginning on page 30. On page 31, it talks about setting expectations based on where they are at the beginning of the year/lesson. I agree (pg. 33) that NCLB puts too much focus on getting the lower performing students to proficient levels. If we spent as much time challenging our gifted students as we do trying to get others to proficient -WOW- imagine what types of learners we would be producing. My aha moment was on page 34 when the author clarifies that "equity doesn't mean everyone receives the same...but rather what he or she needs."
In response to Davis, I too have heard not to take the students to the next level, just go deeper, in both math and reading. In the book, the author talks about putting a ceiling on learning. By not taking those that are ready further, we are inadvertently creating a ceiling, limiting their progress.
kharrellI enjoyed chapted 3 on climate, the subheadings of new ideas, children's strengths, moving beyond what they already know and choice (pages 38-40) kind of hit home. I know that I tell my sudents not to use the word BORED as I want them to reach out and try new things, extend what they already know and experiment with new ideas. This chapter just confirmed my thoughts. I just finished working with a group of first graders, they came to the library with an assignment, as we talked and brainstormed, the lesson took a mind of it's own. The students ended up doing four projects instead of one. We didn't actually finish (technology got the best of us), but they stretched their minds, and I have a feeling when they come back as second graders...we will start from where we left off at the end of the year...one of the big things that motivated them was the ability to choose what they did...no two ended up with the same project. Difficult as a teacher, but great for the children. Several of the students became teachers for other students, which opened up a whole new experience. This chapter just confirmed that with high expectations and classrooms with flexibility, students can attain great things. in response to bboza, I agree with the high expectations, too often we are aiming for "just passing" when students can rise much higher. We do need to provide what each child needs...not just "the same."in response to kevetts & ldavis, since we are all at the same school, perhaps we can make this work...I too like the idea of finding out who has what strengths...and how they look at different things. Today in the paper there is an article about "community time banks" where people share their talents to help others - it enables no money to be exchanged. We could incorporate this into our "learning buddies" program to help use students strengths to support students with different strengths.
Page 7, "Without appropriately challenging learning opportunities, underachievement sets in and becomes very difficult to reverse." I see this daily--students who have cruised through many grades who don't feel pressure to go beyond. They are quick to complain when they must do something outside of their comfort zone, and it can be very disheartening as a teacher. This relates especially to GT students who can have that, "been there, done that" attitude and don't feel the need to push themselves.When they were discussing the different students on page 4, I thought back to one class I taught this year. Throughout the course of the year, I was surprised by one student after another during various units; some of them really rose to the occasion when we were working with poetry, others did well with certain texts, and still others put their heart and soul into journals. At the beginning of each year, I have the students' parents write me a letter giving me a brief overview of their son/daughter, and I plan on focusing more on those to help guide some of my lessons and assessments. This also ties in with Step Two on pages 26-28; getting a better overview of the different types of learners and people I have sitting in my classroom can make it easier for me to focus on what can be done to ensure "continuous progress for each child." (page 21)In response to bboza: I agree as well with the NCLB shortcomings related to higher-level students. I know that I spend more time helping struggling students rather than challenging my gifted ones, and I am not happy about it. It is too easy to file them under the "they'll take care of themselves" category. It makes me think about how difficult differentiation really is in practice. It involves a daily reflection and almost constant re-structuring on my part before, during, and after the class.
A few things stood out in the first three chapters of this book.1). Students can't learn what they already know, understand, or can do. (pg.7) This is why having some sort of preassessment so important,however, I am guilty of not always doing a preassessment of some sort.2). Repeating learning experiences year after year doesn't improve mastery. (pg.7) There was a time when our poor kids have the same Stephanie Harvey connection lessons from Kinder all the way to 5th grade sometimes using the exact some books. How boring!! 3.) Three levels of academic success (pg.14)...the highest level should always be our goal...creating lifelong learners. Unfortunately, the TAKS test is not creating a lifelong learner. We are creating test taking students. The TAKS test isn't promoting a deep interest and passion in our studnets for lifelong learning.4.) I really liked the "How Do You Learn It" activity...what a great way to promote diversity in a classroom. This would be paired nicely with an activity on what kind of learner are you. I bet many students are not aware that they are auditory or visual learners. They can probably tell you they "get it" when you draw a picture or showing them using a graphic organizer though. J.choy
In response to bboza,I totally agree that we are spending all of our time & resources on the struggling students. I agree, that we must do everything we can to help our struggling students close the gap before April, but our GT and high kids are losing out. This year during math station time I was primarily pulling only my struggling kids. I was putting all of my time and energy helping them understanding math concepts. One of my high studnets asked me, "When are you ever going to meet with me?" It hit me that I wasn't being fair and to my students who "got it" the concept. I should be pulling them and taking them farther. I immeidately changed my schedule and began meeting with my GT kids and the kids who "got it" much more regularly and I was able to preview some concepts or going to deeper with a concept. As the book stated, a differentiated classroom maintains high expectations. Students who already can read beyond a certain leel, a teachers expectations are too low and will result in underachievement, student boredom, and virtual stagnation. (pg.30) What a great point.
“The pretest is the map for instruction. The formative tests are the detours. The posttesting is the determination of how successful we are in finding the final destination “(p.10, paragraph 2). Reading these chapters I was reminded how essential pretesting is. As a self-contained 4th grade teacher, however, I must admit I feel a little panicky about designing pre-tests for all subjects, all TEKS. It truly is the only way, however, to offer differentiated education based on facts instead of my intuition. Page 9 - “You make modifications based on information, not on whimsy."
In response to what kevetts commented about spelling: at the International School in Caracas we had a system that I really liked. At the beginning of the year the students were tested over “no-excuse words.” Each grade level had a list, the higher grades list being composed of the previous levels’ lists as well as new words for their grade level. (You can find these lists online by googling “no excuse words.”) This preassessment would extend over several days, which was kind of a pain. However, these words would form a base list “words to learn” that the students would study in place of the words they wrote correctly on the pretest. The children kept up with their own list in their spelling notebook. They would add to it from words misspelled in written work. Each week there would be a pretest over a list of words related to a particular spelling pattern. If a student wrote the word correctly, he would replace it with another word from “words to learn.” On Friday, test day, students would pair up and take turns “testing” each other over the spelling words on their particular lists. If, during the course of the year, students had no “words to learn,” they could pick words from the dictionary that they found interesting.
I loved the activity the author suggested using at the beginning of the year with the large white sheets of paper called "How Do You Learn It?" She started with the tennis example and had them group themselves from novice to expert and went on to baking a pie...it was such a great way to start a discussion about the different interests, needs, and abilities of all the learners in a classroom. Our school did a book study on Love and Logic as a discipline strategy and it assumes the same philosophy...that everyone is not going to be treated the same in our classrooms because everyone is different and the idea of shared control through choices. Shared control also gives students ownership in their learning.(p.41)
Regarding Catie and Brian's comments about getting a better overview of students' interests: I, too, need to utilize inventories and learning style surveys to plan my lessons more effectively. I noticed a variety of these tools in the appendix of this book. I have always had students complete these, but truly have not used them to guide instruction much. I liked what was said about getting parents to write a piece about their child as that could be quite informative.
In order to challenge GT students and achieve acceptable growth, the activities on pages 26 & 27 are extremely important. Once you know more about each student's multiple intelligences and learning style, it will become easier to differentiate for all students.In response to Bboza on June 8th, I agree that while we do want to take the students deeper, we also should be able to consider taking students to the next level!In response to Dani Pico on June 9th, I like the spelling approach she describes. It would be great if the spelling words could be customized for each student!
One Aha moment I had was the author’s mention of the importance of having everyone on board with differentiation (“From day one, diversity must be acknowledged, embraced, and celebrated by all stakeholders.” page 21). This means it is very important this summer that I determine the manner in which I will communicate with students and parents how differentiated learning will take place in our classroom.I like the “How do you learn it?” activity discussed on pages 22-25. I will modify it to be better suited to third grade as I feel the way it is described suits older students better. I cannot wait to use the survey to determine students’ preferences in creating products. I believe this tool will be helpful in analyzing data that will make differentiation a much quicker process in my classroom. (pages 26-27 and Appendix B)The author supports my belief that communication is essential to effective learning. Differentiation is most likely a new concept to parents since it was not being used in schools when they were students to the best of my knowledge. Still, parents are more likely to support the teacher if they are aware of what differentiation is and why it is important to students’ growth. (pages 29-30)
I do like the activity about “How Do You Learn It? on page 21-22. As has been stated before I hope I remember to use it at the beginning of the year. I would love to see how William Allen 6-10 modifies it for his third graders as I have a third grade class also.For the last several years I have asked parents to give me input into their child as part of my beginning of the year letter. It has given me insight into some of the out of school activities and relationships that do have an impact on the students. This year I had my students write a letter to next year’s fourth grade teacher to tell them how they learn. Now, if I don’t loose the letters before August, I hope that these letters will give the teacher’s some information to use at the very beginning of the year. I am going to study the spelling ideas mentioned on page 41-42 for ideas to challenge the good spellers to make that continuous progress in spelling, but also in using a variety of vocabulary in their writing. As Kevetts said on 6-6, communication is important with the parents. I really tried to grade more on process than actual answers this year. As a consequence I had some lower grades that had to be explained several times to parents. I tried to get them on board with looking at what thinking was happening.
The "aha" moments that struck me from Chapter 3 include:1- Educators must stirve toward the goal of continuous prgress for each and every child. pg.212- Diversity has to occur from day 1 and it will not be easy. I love the specific steps to make it happen that are outlined starting on pg. 23 in order to discover at what level students are starting from.3- Discovering the learning styles of all students - pg. 27. It honors each child as a unique human being.4- Teachers must have high expectations and students must have high expectations for themselves. (pg. 30)
My aha's from chapters 1-3 were:Children who get high praise for tasks that require little or no effort may conclude being smart means doing things easily.(chapter 1 pg.7) Second grade is sometimes the first year G.T. kids actually need to work at learning which can cause tears or melt downs. The students seem to feel they are no longer smart because they have to but effort into learning.On page 13, "When proficiency is the goal in a classroom or school, it is actually no goal at all for those already proficient." I believe this is the goal more often than not, which is really upsetting.Almost all of chapter 3 hit home. Developing a safe learning environment is key to differentiation. I do think primary teachers have an advantage here since our range of academic abilities in the classroom is so diverse.In response to kharrell June 8th, I agree that students thrive on high expectations, flexibility, and choice.In response to dani pico June 9th "feeling a little panicky about designing pretests for all teks and subjects." I am self contained 2nd grade and have been pretesting for several years but still can not pretest for everything yet. It takes time and a lot of planning.
My Aha moment was on pg 40-41, when they talked about the student choice, allowing students to decide how they want to demonstrate skill mastery. The book discussed the Love and Logic idea of "shared control". I would love to devise ways to allow my students to choose how they will show me that they can do it!
In response to Catie and BrianI love the idea of having the parents of your students write a letter to you at the beginning of the year giving input their children's way of learning. The only disadvantage I see in that is for those of us who work with populations unable to do that because of language barriers - but I also can see innovative ways to rectify that problem. Where did you get the idea?
Question 3On page 5 the author states that little or no instruction has been provided to teachers about how to differentiate. This is so true, we know we have to differentiate and we modify, adjust and enrich the curriculum but not everyone really knows where to begin. I made a personal connection with this statement. A year ago I remember a student in a co-workers classroom. She often discussed how this one student was not motivated, didn’t want to write and paid little attention to her lessons and often suggested that this student was ADD. His daily journal assignments were;” What are 3 things that are purple? What are 3 things that start with the letter C?” It was meaningless! He was a bright boy. One day that child was in my classroom afterschool and he asked if he could write a story about dinosaurs. He wrote a great story called Dinosaur Hunters, he had a rich scientific based vocabulary and was so knowledgeable but his teacher could not see that because he was not doing what everyone else was doing. He didn’t fit the mold, he didn’t go along with what he was expected to do, and he was frustrated and just shut down. I think she had the mentality of “One Size Fits All”. It didn’t occur to me until just now that maybe she didn’t know how to differentiate or where to begin. That was my big Aha moment!This chapter gives the reader a starting point to differentiation. In chapter 3 Climate: Creating a Comfort Zone I found the steps to assist you in differentiation very helpful for new and veteran teachers. These steps can be used to guide teachers to differentiation. Step 1. The How Do You Learn It? Activity is something I never used but found it extremely important to help students realize how we are all different and that we all begin at different levels and that our needs, knowledge is different depending on what is presented. Step 2. Discover All You Can helps the teacher get to know the student by utilizing inventories. These inventories also help the student understand how they learn and it can be fun for them to discover how they learn best. It is helpful to have the inventories in our book as well. Step 3.Communicate, Communicate, CommunicateThis step is obvious and not new to me but I can see how important it is for a new teacher to embrace it as he/she begins their career.
I realize that to successfully differentiate, I need to begin on the first day. I need to change my expectations, and my students’ expectations. My previous efforts to differentiate instruction have been sporadic. While worthwhile, they did not create the vibrant classroom filled with motivated students that I had imagined. So, I will begin on day one with the “How do you learn it” activity described on p. 21-25. I will adapt the exercise to meet the interests of my students. The book gives the examples of asking about ability to play golf or tennis. At my school sorting students by their abilities in these activities will probably reveal more about their socioeconomic status than their learning styles and abilities. Choosing activities that no one is interested in will set the wrong tone for the year. Students could draw the wrong conclusion from this exercise if the examples are not carefully chosen
I have a very wide experience - from the classroom and as a support specialist - with mentioned content from page 21. "It is imperative that diversity is consistently honored..." a differentiated "lesson could well be viewed with discomfort on the learner's part." Examples include learners feeling "less" or that tasks are "unfair" perhaps because the tasks are different for each learner to meet them at their learning level.I agree completely with this text when it mentions that it is vital to "create a classroom that respects and celebrates diversity. (Page 21)" It has to start from the very beginning and clarified to students that everyone needs something different - similar to lunch time, for example - not everyone wants/needs the same thing. As mentioned beginning on page 26, it is equally important to get to know your learners and also let them get to know about you - this can build amazing personal connections and support trust and a safe learning environment all around. This also rolls easily into "communicate, communicate, communicate," from page 29 and beyond. If we simple are proactive with what's going on in our classrooms, many learners and their supportive families will be more understanding and receptive of differentiation and used to it as part of your learning environment.
I had multiple “aha” moments while reading chapter 3 – actually I had them while reading all 3 chapters.I ended with once again thinking – here we go again “saying do as I say, not as I do”. I thought back to the numerous, numerous in-services and staff development classes I’ve attended that were plainly designed along the “one size fits all” mode of instruction. I like technology and can normally master it quickly, yet I’ve sat through many class waiting for someone to differentiate a “right” click from a “left” click. I’m sure many of us can relate! The section on NCLB (p. 31) mirrors what I see in my own school. Hours and hours of time and $$ is expended on the lower third of the Bell Curve while the top 10% is underserved and often ignored. There are times I really think our country is striving toward “mediocrity for all” (except maybe in Football, esp. if you live in West Texas). I did wonder how a “Helicopter Mom” would cope with strategy #1 on p. 16 – “Don’t rescue the child from a challenge”. Isn’t it the goal of all Helicopter Moms to ensure their children never have any challenges at all (My SIL is an uber Helicopter Mom)The student input section (p.41 -42) so reminded me of first experience with education courses. Due to having no study skills I got a D in freshman English. 20 years later, when I went back to school for my teaching certificate the powers that be in the education department at UofH decided I had to repeat Freshman English since I’d barely passed it at the age of 18. So I, at age 39 retook Freshman Composition. Every week we had to turn in a theme, complete with rough draft, 3x5 cards and brainstorming notes – in other words all the steps of the writing process. By age 39 I’d become a rather proficient writer so I’d write my theme and then, once it was finished create the drafts, 3x5 cards and the other required paraphernalia. Talk about an exercise in uselessness! Had he been willing to differentiate I might have actually learned something new. And by the way, on my second journey through Freshman English I got an A.
A great "Ah" that I took from Chapter One through Three was "to create a climate of differentiation, it takes three values in your classroom: respect diversity, maintain high expectations, and generate openness (Page 20)." I have always thought of my classroom as respecting diversity with our International Food Day where we read "Yoko" by Rosemary Wells and share food from each other's cultures. But I never thought about respecting the exceptionalities in the classroom. We have our daily G.T. creativity activity, even though I do not have any recognized Gifted Students. This is a great way to expand all minds in learning but am I uplifting and respecting that special diversity? How can I do that? Reading Chapter Three made me think about how can I respect the diversity of exceptional abilities of Gifted Students? I thought about learning styles and menus for choice of assignments. A menu that touches on different learning styles would allow for all learners to participate. It can help build an understanding that everyone learns a different way and thus students respect others' learning styles.
Again, I am struck by the title of chapter three, “Climate: Creating a Comfort Zone”. We are told to ‘push the envelope’ ‘try something new’ ‘get out of your comfort zone’; but that’s just where students learn best, when the climate “generates openness, maintains high expectations, and respects diversity…” [p.43] The chapter talks about using interest inventories as diagnostic tools before a unit of study. I found much success with interest inventories. It allowed me to connect assessment [the interest inventory] with differentiation. I am also struck by the information on communication, especially the part about communicating with the students. The suggestions given on p. 29 about the appropriate language to use when communicating with students about assignments reminds me of Peter Johnston’s work in ‘Choice Words’ where he talks about carefully choosing the words we use with students because their impact can be largely felt. What we, as teachers, say and how we say it can make or break classroom climate. As I look across all 3 chapters, I notice a thread of development and growth. At the root and base of the thread is the idea that of course we must differentiate for the students we teach. Next moving to what actually defines success and suggestions for helping the gifted student succeed, and finally beginning to talk about pragmatic and practical ways to differentiate, starting with climate. I see where Roberts and Inman are going and I am excited to be along for the ride.
Posting from PD Reading:Teachers can be very successful with student achievement by sticking to the Key Questions To Differentiation (Page 9). Planning, Preassessing, and Differentiation Questioning can guide teachers with successful student achievement. Planning and preassessing can allow teachers to focus and tailor their instruction to each student’s needs. Preassessment allows for me to see who needs more of a foundation or who needs to dive more in depth due to mastery of content. Preassessment can save hours of planning. We always want more time planning but preassessment can help us be more effective in our planning. Teachers are concerned that preassessment takes away from classroom time but it may actual give you more insight as to where your lessons should go. In the end, you are more effective "time on task" instead of not knowing if your students "go it" until the end of a unit.
Responding to Manderson: I do too! I love when I read a book and think that I am able to do that in my class. I am going to do the "How do I learn It" when school starts again. It will be a great way for me to justify the differentiated assignments. I was concerned that students might say "why does he get to do that and I have to do this assignment?" The activity will support my intentions of reaching all learners.
Page 19 in the second paragraph writes about various identities of teachers and their approaches to the classroom. Personally, I find myself a risk taker who always gets the passing glances because my brain doesn't offer up the regular "blue plate special" to my students. I don't want my students to receive the same experience I did through school. I was rarely challenged, and it caused havoc in my college career. In response to June 10, 2010 8:27 AM william allen (rob), I think it is very important to know your students strengths and needs and what a better way than just to ask them up front. In response to June 10, 2010 10:10 AM marty, I tried to grade more in class performance each day versus just independent output, I also found my grades were somewhat lower, but I think it was more genuine assessment versus a MC handout or close ended questions. It pushed my students to produce better work.
I felt like Chapter 3 gave some very practical suggestions for teachers to use in the classroom. On page 20, it begins with “respecting diversity.” Sharing the differences with students, and completing the activity, How Do You Learn It? Interest inventories on page 26 give you a variety of good information about your students. Parents can also give you a different perspective on their child as a learner. I have always felt that providing choice for students is vital to creating a positive learning environment where all students are successful. The connection to Teaching with Love and Logic on page 41 demonstrates that it assists not only with differentiation and academic success but to classroom management, as well. It is a win – win situation.
Respondingn to A. Mitch - The "How much do I know" activity would be an excellent ice breaker at the first faculty meeting of the year too. Vast improvement over the "pin a name on your back and guess who you are activity" which has been done to death. Teachers would find colleagues with whom they have something in common with other than teaching. That's good for building team spirit and all that, plus they would gain an understanding of differentiation.
l Robin wrote: "will adapt the exercise to meet the interests of my students. The book gives the examples of asking about ability to play golf or tennis. At my school sorting students by their abilities in these activities will probably reveal more about their socioeconomic status than their learning styles and abilities." Oh can I relate to that - same situation at my school, except none of the kids play golf or tennis. Soccer and baseball are about it, though a few play football. I'd have to adapt the exercise to include video games, Xboxes, favorite fast food place and I'm blanking on anything else. About the only after school activity our kids have (other than watching TV) is our After School Program.
kevetts mentioned having to use the Words their Way to give out spelling/ vacab words. I haven't read Words Their Way (I'm a librarian, not a classroom teacher) but couldn't give the kids who "know" it a Thesaurs (SP!) and ask them to learn 5 words to use instead of "pretty" or "nice" or any other over used word? Or ask them to learn some words from their current favorite book or that pertain to a subject they are interested in? I was one of those strange kids who actually enjoyed reading the dictionary because I was/ still am fascinated by the origns of language.
I agree completely with bboza on June 8th when she pointed out the quote from the text that states, "equality doesn't mean everyone receives the same...but rather what he or she needs." It is just as when raising our own children - fair or equal does not always mean exactly the same thing at the same time, etc... Wouldn't that be strange, for example when we went to the dentist and he did the exact same thing for each and every patient? That would not make sense... Same goes for the world of education. I also agree with many other bloggers that so many educators feel untrained to extend thinking, other than accelerating ahead in the curriculum. Although this might be appropriate in some instances, it is more imperative to horizontally challenge thinkers that are ready to move on or beyond a specific content. If we simply teach ahead each time a learner needs a challenge, then we are teaching the kiddos what they might be "scheduled" to learn following years, and the issue will become reoccurring... Projects and exploratory horizontal thinking geared to the specific interests and abilities is most appropriate for most learners, in my opinion.
I completely agree with (Rob) June 10th comment about having everyone acknowlege,embrace and celebrate diversity and communicate this to my students and parents. I will communicate what differentiation is and that it will be used in the classroom at our curriculum night. I will also use the How do you learn it activity? the first day of school as well as the inventories that they provided in the book.
What stood out the most to me after reading chapters 1 - 3 is something that I have long believed “equity does not mean everyone receives the same education but rather everyone receives what he or she needs” (pg. 34). This can be a very hard concept to enforce with both students and parents. I love the idea of starting the year with “How do you learn it?” because it reinforces the message that everyone learns in different ways, at different speeds, and are skilled at different things. This also sets kids up to understand why some kids leave the room throughout the day (dyslexia support, reading recovery, etc) why some times we have another teacher come into our room to work with a group, and why some students are involved with after school programs such as tutoring. I am currently reading the book Teaching with Love and Logic referred to on pages 40 &41 and attending the district training. What I am reading in Differentiating Instruction parallels the message in Love and Logic that each student is an individual person with individual needs and those needs are met on an individual basis whether we are handling instruction or discipline. This is a new concept for many people and may be VERY hard to get across. I am looking forward to implementing these ideas more in the upcoming school year and seeing the results.