Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Session 2 - Question 3

The authors repeatedly refer to "continuous progress," "intential" decisions, and "extend their learning." In your opinion, why are the authors emphasizing these terms? Don't forget to support your answer with page references.

32 comments:

  1. KHarrell
    On page 64, the comment is written, "all students will be learning about probability, but they will begin at diferent levels due to their demonstrated prior learning or readiness." As a result of this, you have continuous progress because each child will start at a different spot and most likely end at a different spot. As an instructor, you need to make sure that students increase their knowledge, not just stop if they have already "accomplished the original task". If you have a child who particularly likes a subject, they will search out more information than required for the assignments. The word intential is blocked out on page 80 with an exceptional comment - "intentional part is what makes the task differentiated and not just different." As a good instructor, you set the stage, not just acidentally fall into the situation. You know your students and prepare for their individual needs. I actually used this chapter this week in summer school as I wrote lessons. The students I am working with are not labled GT, however on page 78 the section on Develop respectful, engaging tasks for each level reminded me that I need to provide the same unique learning experiences for these children as I do for my GT students. Today as a result, I had that "light bulb" day with a few. Reading this book while doing summer school has reminded me of the importance of differentiating for all students...not just GT. I enjoyed this chapter on Bloom's Taxonomy.

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  2. On page 55, the quote reads, "No one wins when students are not challenge by new material to understand and apply. Everyone wins when each student makes continuous progress." This is so true. This is what we want happening in our classrooms. I look back at my kids that were my biggest interruptions during the year and I wonder, did I challenge enough? Learning is interesting and engaging all on its own, but not if we already know the content. The examples of Bloom's charts in Chapter 5 were big "ahas" for me. We hear so much about how we need to differentiate, but are not given concrete examples of what it looks like. At the end of Chapter 4, p.59, it says that the next few chapters will explain exactly how to extend learning for students that have already mastered a unit. I thought, well, we'll see. We've been here before and I've left with only theory. Not true for Chapter 5. I'm already thinking about the units I start with in August and how I can plan a Bloom's chart for at least one unit. The author's keep coming back to these themes over and over because this is the whole reason for differentiating, this is why we are in this profession. We are here to ensure that all students learn, and learning looks different for each child. What we plan needs to be intentional, not just a cute idea that we have. This is where that idea of conguency comes into play. What is planned needs to fit the content as well as meet students where they are in the learning continuum, then take them farther. These were 2 good chapters.

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  3. In response to Kharrell, June 17th 9:37pm, I was thinking the same thing about the comment on page 80. I think we tend to get stuck there as educators, considering that different tasks mean we are differentiating. I've been guilty of that, not realizing that it's just different, but not necessarily extending learning. You are lucky to have the chance to practice some of these ides in summer school. Keep sharing your ideas.

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  4. The authors emphasize these terms to draw attention to the individual student as an independent learner.While small group learning and collaboration is definitely benefical we need to remember that each student comes to us with different needs & abilities and we need to make sure we are challenging that student...taking them to the next level. The focus on "continuous progress" for all students requires that the teacher selects relevant objectives, pre-assesses to determine who has already mastered the concepts, and then plans learning experiences and assessments that challenge all students to "extend their learning," regardless of their academic level. As stated in the introduction to Chapter 4 (pg. 45), "...the purpose of continuous progress: teaching students content and skills that they haven't already mastered." Knowing each students prior knowledge of the content is crucial to accomplishing this goal.

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  5. In response to ldavis who stated "We hear so much about how we need to differentiate, but are not given concrete examples of what it looks like." I couldn't agree more. I'm glad the authors are giving us examples of how the Blooms chart looks in an elementary classroom. Just like my kids, I need to consume, critique, and produce too!! I also have been guilty of thinking that I am differentiating if students are given different tasks. Maybe some of the tasks were meeting the needs of some of my students, but not all.I don't think all of my students were continuing in their learning. I hope to get more ideas as I continue to read.

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  6. The authors are emphasizing “continuous progress,” “intentional decisions,” and “extend their learning” because they are the reasons and the method for differentiated instruction, the focus of the book. Beginning with pre-assessment the instructor is determining what is already mastered so that intentional decisions can be made about the individual student’s needs so each student’s learning can be extended and individuals, therefore, make continuous progress. On page 80, the author writes, “the intentional part is what makes the task differentiated and not just different.” It just got me to thinking about providing choice for product based solely on interest and not necessarily on whether that activity will make the student extend their learning could be a problem. This is where the intentional decision of the teacher to match the task to the learner would be key. Otherwise, everyone is just doing a different assignment, but not extending their learning. The pre-assessment has to be what guides the decisions the teacher makes about the learning experiences in the classroom(p75).

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  7. I believe the authors are emphasizing these terms because research shows that a large percentage of our students are not being provided with an education that enables them to reach their full potential. These statements on page 7, students can't learn what they already know, repeating learning experiences year after year does not increase mastery, and finally without appropriately challenging learning opportunities underachievement sets in, are examples of why the authors believe they need to stress the idea of continuous progress, or meeting the needs of each student.
    Intentional decisions structure our lessons so that students are not just doing a different project, but are completing a project that meets the guidelines of continuous progress on selected content that matches their level of readiness. Overall I believe these terms are stressed inorder for educators to understand how to create learning experiences for all students at their level so that they are successful and challenged.

    In response to Kharrell, I too was reminded that I need to differentiate for all students. I tend to do more for the low and high groups then I do for the average kids. I need to consistently pre-assess and use the data for all instruction.

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  8. In response to KHarrell's post on June 17th, I greatly appreciate that she has already started using the differentiated tasks on her summer school students. I especially appreciate that these are NOT just for the GT labeled students, but that there are many levels within regular and lower level children as well. There are also different interests which might spark motivation in students who always seemed lower leveled but were simply not interested. We might begin to see strengths in different kids who weren't willing to show these.

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  9. When I read about the study, "Why Not Let High Ability Students Start School in January?" conducted by The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (P.48), I was saddened. I think I felt this way because it is the truth in most classrooms. Most high ability students already know what is going on during the first half of the school year. I think the term continuous progress is so important because the authors are trying to emphasize that ALL students need to be learning. This cannot be done without extending their learning and doing it intentionally. We, as educators, need to make it a point to meet the needs of all students in order to help create lifelong learners. The students who seem to struggle the most when things get tough are the students who have always had everything come easy to them. They always could get by. Then when they need to study and research a concept they don't know where to begin because they never had to do this. I completely agree with the fact that the authors continue to emphasize these terms to make sure educators take it seriously that these students have the right to learn too.

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  10. On pages 54-55, continuous progress is discussed. Continuous progress is different for EACH student. Our goal should always be to provide the highest level of challenge to "grow" each student to their maximum capability. "Everyone wins when each student makes continuous progress." p. 55

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  11. In the closing paragraph of the Preassessment Chapter 4, on page 59, it is stated that, "not only do you need to preassess, but you must also use those results in teaching the unit. That's where differentiation comes in..." The next question posed is, "What can I do for him, her, or them so they can make continuous progress and extend their learning?"

    I think these statements sum up some of the main ideas of this book. It is our professional obligation to grow learners, wherever they begin their learning path. This requires us to seek out an know where each individual is on the continuum of each area of the content being taught/learned. We are continually to be gauging progress to meet these needs, making intentional decisions based on results of those preassessments, etc, and extending the learning as needed to have high expectations (but not the same exact goal points) for all learners. This would truly be the ultimate, and I believe this is why the authors keep using these terms.

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  12. I believe the authors use continuous progress and intentional decisions throughout the book because they want to emphasize its importance. As educators our goal is for all children to learn. In order to ensure that all children learn, we must know where their starting point is, we then intentionally plan how we will extend, challenge and teach our lessons. We want all students to become life long learners. On page 55 the author states that our goal is to develop individuals who are responsible for their own learning; only then can they be lifelong learners.

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  13. The authors continue to emphasize these terms because they are key to the whole concept of differentiation. If “fair” is allowing students to “extend their learning” to allow “continuous progress” (p. 6), teachers must make very “intentional” decisions to insure that each student is able to make a year’s growth.

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  14. I agree with Anonymous's comment "I need to provide the same unique learning experiences for these children as I do for my GT students." In a master's class I am taking this summer we were discussing the effect of "remedial" classes on low performing students. Unfortunately, repetitive emphasis on basic skills does not close the performance gap; on the contrary, it tends to exacerbate it. High-interest, cognitively challenging, thematic based curriculum, the curriculum that is often reserved for GT, does have positive effects. I can see how differentiating with Blooms would be a way to get all of our students excited about learning.

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  15. When intentional decisions are made continuous progress is made. This is a repeated theme in what we have consumed of our book so far. Roberts and Inman state that “…the key word is intentional. The teacher matches the learning experience to the student through information gained on the pre-assessment.” [p. 69] In talking about the Bloom’s charts, Roberts and Inman say “Everyone learns when learning experiences are not a one-size-fits-all approach…” [p. 71] So when teachers design and deliver their instruction centered on what students know and can do, success happens. I love this idea of the teacher being the decision maker in the classroom. She knows what’s best for the students sitting in front of her. Roberts and Inman say “You are the decision maker. You must intentionally match the level of content, process, and product with each student’s interests, needs, abilities, or skill levels.” [p. 80] The authors are emphasizing this theme of ‘meeting the learner where she is on the learning path’ because it’s the only thing that’s ever worked. In the past, perhaps the way past or perhaps not, when instruction was scripted from ‘a can’ only the students who were ready to receive the new information received it. Students who already knew the information were bored and students who didn’t have the background knowledge to take on the new learning were lost and fell further behind. It’s what Maria Montessori knew over 100 years ago. Learns [no matter your age, gender, race, ability level] learn best when they are met on the learning path where they are, taught something new, and held accountable for remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating with the new learning.

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  16. kharrell
    In response to several about differentiating for the various students. Again, I have the advantage of summer school to test some things out. The students we have at summer school are mostly there for a reason - not passing taks, however, it has been interesting at the different levels they have entered at. We are having to meet very different needs (and accessing very quickly) to keep them moving at the appropriate level. Not keeping the student motivated is the quickest way to loose their attention - and that they have reminded me often over the past few days! If they are motivated, they learn and progress quickly!

    in response to dani pico's "Unfortunately, repetitive emphasis on basic skills does not close the performance gap; on the contrary, it tends to exacerbate it. High-interest, cognitively challenging, thematic based curriculum, the curriculum that is often reserved for GT, does have positive effects." This is being revealed greatly through my summer school experience. We have had several students who when given the ability to use technology or interact with a science experiment have more than shown their understanding of higher level thinking skills. Just today the teachers were talking on how many of these students have talents, but we are not finding them because we are dwelling on "the skills" not seeing where they are and how they need to continue their learning. I have been amazed at what the students through summer school have retained in a short amount of time - but the program is designed to provide highly motivating interactive lessons. Yet when we go back (due to the test next week) and do "drill and kill", we see them revert back to "i dunno" actions.

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  17. I think the authors are repeating these key phrases b/c they are trying to emphasize the importance of goal oriented instruction. On page 63, the author talks about the need for intentional planning because there is no time to waste. We need to be clear about what the students need to learn and the route we are going to take to get them there. The goal of our instruction needs to be to extend the learning of all students in our rooms. We cant do that if we are teaching skills some have already mastered (p.45) We need intentional planning/instruction in order to ensure continuous progress on all levels.

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  18. In my opinion, the author is mentioning these terms to draw the reader to the fact that the concept of learning on a higher level is always changing and evolving. The “continuous progress” emphasizes how the learning does not have an end. There is logic to the sequence. Yet, it is not always so linear. The “intential decision” shows the planning and purposefully intent for a desired outcome. (page 58) The “extended their learning” emphasizes how learning should not be limited to the minimum standards of the state. Student-led inquiry motivates new learning and extends the learners’ schema.

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  19. Responding to JChoy:
    I think it is great that you are hitting the fact that students need to be independent learners. Students need motivation to further stimulate more learning. Wouldn't it be interesting if we had the students tell us what their desired outcome would be??? This could support and encourage students to be independent learners.

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  20. William Allen (Rob)June 23, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    So far, I have located 33 references to the term “continuous progress”. The author states her intent in the beginning of the book. She does not want any student to have a learning ceiling. (page 3) Students that are rehashing old material are not only failing to progress, but are actually digressing in that they will be unequipped to take on challenging material once it’s provided. She also uses continuous progress to justify differentiated learning. If students all work on the same assignments, some are bored, some are overmatched and some are “just right” (a goldilocks curriculum). (pages 6-8) Continuous progress will guide teachers to plan, pre-assess and differentiate with each individual student in mind. (page 9) The author makes a good point when she says continuous progress is a must when our classrooms are so diverse. (pages 20-21) Interest inventories are a great tool for determining the best course of action for continuous progress. (page 28) I have always considered the measure of success how much growth a student makes during the year. Too much emphasis is placed on where they are at as they leave the classroom without any mention of where did they start from. Continuous progress is allowing students to make at least a year’s worth of growth. (page 31) I hadn’t thought about how “open-ended” responses provide the information needed for students to make continuous progress. (page 55)

    After reviewing the nine examples of “intentional decisions” or “intentionally designed” or “intent”, I have come to the conclusion that the author places emphasis on this term to distinguish between differentiation and just plain different work. (page 3) Using pre-assessment to act will give administrators, students and parents/guardians the confidence to know that a teacher is justified or has a sound rationale in his/her “intent” to give differentiated tasks to students. (page 9) The author states that the classroom climate needs to be “intentional” to assure students' academic success. This also assures high expectations out of all students and prevents a learning ceiling as mentioned earlier for high achieving students. (page 19, page 30) Students should be given choices. How the teacher molds these choices based on students needs, abilities and interests will demonstrate their “intent” to differentiate for the benefit of all students. (page 40) A teacher’s intent will be based on their goal whether that be the learning experience or the material and the final product itself. (pages 68-69) The author demonstrates how the use of Bloom’s taxonomy will allow a teacher to match the content, process or product with the students’ interest, needs abilities or skill levels.

    It is my opinion that the author makes six references to “extending their learning” or “extend their abilities” or “extend the potential ways because she is trying to assert that differentiating students’ learning will extend their growth beyond learning ceilings. (page 9) The author expounds on these ideas when she says, “When educators or legislators set goals of achievement, they often inadvertently create limits to learning.” (page 33) There is an expression that states, "the sky is the limit". This is true unless there are learning ceilings preventing continued growth for students both academically and as human beings. To make unlimited growth possible, a teacher must use data to make their lesson plans better suited to extend students’ learning. (page 46) Preassessment allows teacher to determine which students know the content thereby necessitating extension of the learning to areas they may be less familiar with. (page 48) I believe there are many ways to extend the learning. A teacher can extend the process of learning or the technology used to demonstrate the learning or the information itself, etc. The bottom line is students should always be moving forward and never become stagnant.

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  21. Continuous progress provides opportunities for students not to be stagnant in learning and develop habits of an underachiever from being unchallenged. Intentional decisions pre-assessing and planning learning opportunities at a students’ readiness level and planning for products that develop a skill or showcase content. Extend their learning giving opportunities to engage at all students’ levels to allow for more option and choice to demonstrate learning. (pages 19,33,46,48,50,63,64,80)

    In response to Dani Pico on June 22, it is so important that we accurately implement fairness in the classroom. It is so sad to see a child spinning his or her wheels all year moving from class to class meeting the minimum because of being unchallenged.

    In response to ldavis on June 19th, I too have thought if I am offering different products then I fulfilled my quota for differentiation. Learning to truly differentiate will be just a great learning process for us as it is for our students who face large challenges each year.

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  22. The author uses these phrases to emphasize the importance of looking at each individual student to work towards making them lifetime learners and to keep them challenged. The challege for the teacher is to keep all learning experiences equally engaging as stated on page 78.

    I agree with ldavis and april from earlier that I will need to look at my products to make sure I am successfully differentiating for my class this year.

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  23. I think the authors continually use these terms because having students make continous progress by extending their learning through the intentional decisions and planning of the teacher is the basis of this book.

    The authors state that "PLANNING learning experiences to address a wide range of learner needs is key to helping students make continous progress" (p.61). This statement places emphasis on how important it is for the teacher to carefully plan, preassess, and create experiences to meet the needs of EVERYONE in the room.

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  24. “Continuous progress,” “initial decisions,” and “extended learning” are all ways of insuring students become lifelong learners. Preassessment strategies allow a starting point for meaningful individualized instruction. – pg. 46 They provide valuable documentation on a student’s progress for the teacher, student and parents a like. – pg. 47
    Students are able to study subjects of interest at a deeper level essentially alleviating boredom. – pg. 55 Differentiating with Blooms Taxonomy through lesson design and questioning strategies enables the learner to creatively delve deeply into any subject area and assess what they’ve learned. – chap. 5

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  25. In response to annm:

    Educators are not in the "cookie cutter" business. I totally agree our kids deserve to hae their individual needs met and are able to receive an outstanding education through differentiation. Imagine what our classrooms will look like when we're able to tap into every student's interest level and extend their knowledge without spinning our wheels in boredom!

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  26. The author stresses these statements so when we are planning for the unit of study we have in mind that we need to differentiate at their level. Before you begin to plan you need to ask yourself this essential question: “What can I do for him, her or them so they can continuous progress and extend their learning?” (pg. 61) That means you as a teacher must plan to ensure that children have opportunities for learning throughout the year. (pg. 63)You are planning intentionally in order for students to continue to learn and extend their new information and skills.
    In response to what KHarrell, as an instructor, you need to make sure that students increase their knowledge, not just stop if they have already "accomplished the original task". If you have a child who particularly likes a subject, they will search out more information than required for the assignments. I totally agree with the statement, students should extend their learning with high levels of complexity, by using Menus and Product List, they will feel they are in charge of their learning. Deciding on how they want to extend their learning will be empowering for them.

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  27. What all of these terms say to me is that we are constantly striving to create lifelong learners, which is one of my primary goals as an educator. In order to have reluctant students buy into the value of our lessons, we sometimes have to illustrate for them what the real-world applications are. The use of the term "intentional" really drives home the importance of planning the product, and on page 68 one of the points ties the two ideas together by speaking about "products...that would lead to real-life learning because they are products that adults use." In today's world, our students will be called upon to use technology and work in different types of professional situations than in years past, and it is important for us to plan to connect what is in the classroom with what they will encounter when they leave us. That is where activities akin to the centers discussed on pages 73-75 come in. I've done something like this in the past when introducing a new novel, particularly one that is set in a distinct time period. I have the students move around the room to different stations where they have to perform various tasks involving audio, visuals, listening, reading, speaking, and writing. I've found that for some students, seeing a particular picture will really drive home a point or elicit a response, whereas another student needs to read a primary document in order to fully understand the time period. Talk about "extending their learning"--I had a student who became a big Woody Guthrie fan after hearing some of his songs played at one of the stations during a _Of Mice and Men_/Great Depression unit, she was so affected by them. GT students in particular seem to enjoy these activities because they appeal to their multiple intelligences. I have many students who, similar to students mentioned on page 66, abhor writing character sketches but rise to the occasion when they have to draw something, or act it out.

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  28. In response to a mitch's comment on June 23rd: I appreciated your comment about learning not necessarily being linear. I have to reiterate similar sentiments throughout the year to my AP students and parents. They don't understand why I don't just start the year with test prep and continue to hit them hard with sample essays and multiple choice passages. I have to tell them that the student will do better if the process just plays out more organically; if we look critically at literature from different angles and for different reasons, the students will learn how to analyze different types of literature. If I cram sample tests down their throats, they focus too much on that one passage or prompt or multiple choice question, which narrows their learning experience. They don't always see the value in learning how to truly read and interpret literature on different levels, because they are so worried about doing well on the exam, which flies in the face of the whole lifelong learners idea!

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  29. Dani Pico’s comment “ In a master's class I am taking this summer we were discussing the effect of "remedial" classes on low performing students” really resonated with me. At my school hours and hours of time, effort, money, sweat and tears (no blood cause that’s against the law) is expended on the lower level kids. They are force feed TAKS passages till their eyes glaze over. No wonder some of these kids hate school. I would too under those circumstances.

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  30. Page 68 really struck a cord with me and helped the concept of “intentional” fall into place. This year with my PGP kids I will try to give them more “choices” as to what their final product will be. It might be a bit tricky since they are first graders and don’t have much of a clue has to what choices there are.  The longer a student has been in school the more opinionated they get as to what they enjoy and don’t enjoy doing.
    All the charts in Chapter 4 were most helpful in giving ideas to support “extend the learning”. In figure 5.5 (pg. 74) the authors even offer an option to those of us who are artistically challenged. I could never “apply the elements of Monet’s Impressionism in a painting” but I’d happily research “take a position on the rejection of the art of the Impressionists from the saloons of Paris and then present it”.
    Unlike many authors of education books Roberts and Inman actually have a sense of humor. As I read chapter 6, “Differentiating with Venn Diagrams” my eyes began to glaze over and I found my mind wandering. I reached page 99 and my attention was immediately snapped back to the book when I read “When you look at more than one oval do your eyes cross” . “Hey that’s me” I thought!

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  31. On page 71 they discuss continuous progress. I think that they continue to emphasize the above concepts because they are the key to differentiation. If you are not differentiating your lessons then there cannot be continuous progress for all.

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  32. “Each is getting a challenging assignment that strengthens her brain and provides continuous progress.” Page 86 _______________ “can be adapted to group or individual work – the choice, the intentional decision, is yours.” Page 93 I believe that in order for differentiation to happen in our classrooms intentional decisions must be made by us for all learners. I love that these strategies can be applied to all students to meet their needs as a learner on their individual learning path.

    In response to MCernosek on June 24, I totally agree that intentional planning is key to making this work for all students.From preassessment to the end of the unit, the planning and decision making is key for all learners to make continuous progress at an appropriate level.

    In response to bboza on June 23, continuous progress and intentional planning are necessary for creating life long learners and motivated learners. Hopefully, by implementing goal oriented instruction to a higher level, we will find more time in our day and fewer behavior issues because kids are motivated to learn.

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