Monday, July 19, 2010

Session 4 - Question 1

What are key components in managing a differentiated classroom? How does or will this apply to your classroom setting? Give reasons and page numbers within your blog answer.

39 comments:

  1. Page 133 provides the 3 steps to creating a differentiated classroom: the planning question, preassessment question, then the differentiation question. It looks really simple when you think about it in just 3 parts, but there's so much to each one. Since differentiation consideres the particular needs of each student and how they learn, grouping is not optional, but essential. This chapter lists a great variety of grouping methods. I have to say that the description of cluster grouping on page 136 has defined my GT classroom for years. I usually have around 5 GT students in a mixed-ability classroom. When I read this chapter it was sort of reaffirming in that I feel like I use lots of different grouping styles with my kids. However, I haven't yet done a grouping based around multiple intelligences. The example on page 140 discusses having 8 groups studying the solar system in 8 different ways. It would be a big challenge for me to set up groups this way for a particular unit of study because this isn't a comfortable way for me to plan. I don't know that the example with the READO board makes it very clear, so I would definitely have to plan this one out carefully with colleagues.
    Page 144 has a list of keys to successful grouping. The one that stood out to me most was the 5th bullet - vary the way you group kids. They really do end up with the same kids over and over otherwise.

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  2. In response to ldavis. having seen many a class come through the library for group work I can atest that few teachers adhere to #5, vary the groups. The groups are always the same - the G/T or the bright kids are scattered 1 to a group where they proceed to do most of the work and carry the group. As a librarian I would much rather the G/T & bright kids be together so that once they finish the assigned project I can work with them on something Web 2.0 and teach them something new.

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  3. I think a crucial component of managing a differentiated classroom is making those intentional decisions while you are planning after your pre-assessment of a specific content. Such as how you group students for specific activities is an important factor in learning success. This previous year, I had one project where students were grouped by interest after their initial individual research was completed. Many of these students found themselves working with classmates they don't normally collaborate and/or within their immediate social circle. In response, all of the groups were highly engaged and had tremendous growth because each student was respectful of the other because they had completed research and were experts on a similar topic to collaborate and mold together into one product. As managing any classroom, good time management and use of formative assessments are key to managing a differentiated classroom. In the end, an educator has to make their management style cohesive to the style of the learning process. You should not adding more work, but exchanging it for different management tools(139 and 144).

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  4. William Allen (Rob)July 22, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    The author(s) states that we intentionally establish a differentiated classroom that considers students needs, abilities, readiness, etc. I think an important key component is to make sure students and parents/guardians understand the need for differentiated learning at a very early stage of the school year. Even though I may understand why I differentiate, students may face pressures/ridicule from other students if they are not supportive of this classroom environment. Also, if parents/guardians do not understand the process, they cannot help a teacher by supporting differentiation and making sure their child does the same. (page 133)

    I also believe an important component is my time management to make sure my lesson plans and the materials needed can accommodate differentiated learning. It will require some lengthy planning, at least at the outset while I am still learning how to balance the need to abide by the state mandated curriculum with the need to differentiate so that each student can demonstrate understanding the best and most efficient way they know how.

    It is also important that I identify when it is necessary to group student homogeneously versus heterogeneously. There are times where it is important to allow GT students and other high-end achievers to work together. There are also times that it is important to put together students with different levels of aptitude for a certain subject matter. For example, it may be important to have students with great understanding of a topic to work as student mentors to the other members of the group. Sometimes, students relate better if they hear it from one of their peers. (page 134)

    Another important aspect for managing a differentiated classroom is my ability to measure academic progress of every one of my students as discussed on page 136. This means I must improve my record keeping skills and stay away from the pitfalls of giving every student the same assessment to determine progress.

    A very important element of a successful differentiated classroom for me is my ability to determine my intent for a project/task. As mentioned throughout the book, my desired outcome will determine the type of differentiated learning experience I will put together. Is it about learning the material? Is it about students growing as leaders and taking initiative? Is it about students working at a level they are comfortable with? These answers will help me set the course of how I manage the differentiated classroom. (page 138, 142-144 as well as throughout the book)

    Maybe the most important aspect of managing a differentiated classroom is the ability to manage my time. The author(s) states that there is a concern about teachers’ managing their time as well as students managing time to complete project. They do a great job addressing how students can manage their time wisely but I do not see where they address the issue of a teacher having the time to create so many differentiated projects rather than one for the class. I know this is important, but I feel an issue is overlooked/not addressed by this book. (pages 144-147)

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  5. William Allen (Rob)July 22, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    In response to April Tavilson's comments I think it is interesting that even though students chose a project based on interest level, they did not end up with a group of their close friends. You think in life your friends would have similar interests but that is not always the case. In addition to collaborative growth which is wonderful, I wonder if new friendships were formed between students that did not realize they have a common interest? I agree with April that you should not add more work for the students but a different management tool or what I would consider "smarter work" because it gives students more and better opportunities to succeed.

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  6. I don't have a classroom per say (I'm a librarian) but I found the various ways one could group students to be interesting. I really like the idea of interest grouping and may suggest that to some of my teachers.

    Page 133 starts out with 3 main components - planning, pre-assessment question & differentiation question. The authors then go on to discuss various ways one can group students -
    clustering, cooperative learning groups (which many GT students hate)and flexible grouping. The latter is what the authors favor and they give several different examples. They suggest using interest, multiple intelligences, readiness, gender, self selection (be careful if you use that one) and random which is OK sometimes but don't rely on it. Page 144 gives some good hints in to creating successful groups.

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  7. In response to William Allen (Rob) on July 22nd @ 4:56pm, I have the same hurdle with getting parents and students on the same page. They can be very competative and a differetiated classroom will be a shock for many of them. If I can create a supportive atmosphere in the classroom with the students it should help the parents to be accepting. Usually parents are happy when their kids are happy. Usually.

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  8. I think the key components of managing a GT classroom, or really any classroom GT or not, go back to the repetitive mantra of this book: INTENT. The teacher’s got to decide the why and the how. Roberts and Inman say, “…definitely decide why you want kids together or working alone and then consider how you want kids grouped.” [p. 134]. The planning questions on p. 133 are great to have in your head as you think through the units of study or concepts you teach. Coupled with teacher’s intent is the idea of continuous learning and maybe that drives the intent. If the teacher always has the question “is this kid learning something” in her mind then the grouping falls into place.
    I found the portion on tracking very interesting. I was in a tracked classroom in elementary school in SBISD in the 1970’s. We, the students, absolutely knew who was in what class and, like it or not, we all had a perception of the ability of the students in each class. I didn’t really find it horrible then, but now as an educator I find it appalling.
    The portion about cluster groups was interesting too. I know this is how we group GT students in SBISD, but I think the authors of the study, Winebrenner and Devlin, had much larger classes in mind when they analyzed their results. In Texas, the class sizes are pretty much 22 in elementary school, so a group of 8 GT students in a group of 22 is a lot. I think 3 or 4 GT students in a class are much better. Three or four make a perfect cooperative learning group, based on the teacher’s intent. Roberts and Inman say “Remember that the grouping strategy used must be a match with the educational intent determined by the teacher.” [p. 138].
    The other idea I heard repeatedly within our book is the idea of pre-assessment. It seems critical to grouping. A teacher would have to know how much her students know about a topic before deciding the intent of the grouping. That will determine if the groups are based on ability, social skills, multiple intelligences, or learning styles.
    One bone to pick with the authors—on page144 they list the ‘Keys to Successful Grouping’. They say that “grouping does not have to be a physical concept. Everyone can still be sitting in rows, but working on assignments that correlate to the pre-assessment or inventory.” [p. 144]. I disagree. I believe that elementary age students should have a physical arrangement of the classroom that promotes collaboration. Perhaps high school students can see beyond the rows, but young children need to see the possibility for collaboration in front of them.
    I chuckled at the idea of schools, teachers, and students being ‘prisoners of time’. It’s so true! We are bound by the clock and must find ways to work within that cell. I love the idea of taking control over how we use the time we do have, by determining what is important and what isn’t, and by ‘long-term planning’. That’s a nebulous term and you don’t want to plan in the absence of children, but taking time to plan the Think-Tac-Toes, the Bloom’s charts and rubrics in advance for use over a long period of time would help with the time crunch. Of course these instructional tools would have to be revised as they are used by students.

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  9. In response July 23, 2010 9:53 AM Croth, I agree preassessment is critical to prepare effective grouping. I know it is harder to implement, but it also seems comparable to writing lesson plans without knowing the learning objective. Grouping with intent is necessary to achieve optimal learning.

    In response to L Davis, I have yet to group on multiple intelligences either. I think I tend more create more variety of activities that change the way the objective is presented for example from language based to kinesthetic. I think I will try to give students this option like the solar system example.

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  10. I agree with Croth - in elementary school you have to group the kids together physically - otherwise they just don't "get it".

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  11. The key components in managing a differentiated classroom that provides for continuous progress for all students are group management and time management (page 133). It is important that groups be varied and flexible so that students are not always stuck with the same group (page 139). It is also important that the purpose for the group work be determined ahead of time, so that the proper grouping strategy is chosen. I have grouped students by interest, by ability/readiness, and randomly. I have never grouped by learning style, which I would like to try this coming school year. This will require preassesment to determine the students’ learning styles.
    The author begins discussing time management on page 144. I found some of the author’s statements a bit unrealistic. Even if the child is “harmoniously matched” to the learning experience, as mentioned on page 145, I think it will be very difficult to predict our time needs “accurately.” Determining how much time the students are going to need for their individual learning experiences, and to mesh these different time needs seamlessly is quite a challenge. So it is important to have “back-up plans” for those who finish early and for those who are unable to complete their experience within the allotted amount of time.

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  12. I agree with l davis that the “READO” example with regards to multiple intelligences was not very clear. It piqued my interest, and was disappointed to not find an example in the appendices. I did find an example on line. http://www.shenet.org/shatekon/csloat/csreadandspell.htm

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  13. The two components key to managing a differentiated classroom are grouping and time management. Chapter 8, pgs. 135-43, is devoted to delving into various types of grouping veteran teachers have used in their classrooms througout time. In short, "Keys to Successful Grouping",pg. 144, summarizes what teachers must keep in mind if we are truly offering differnetiated instruction. To begin with, there has to be a strong reason for grouping students and we must always keep continuous prgress for all foremost in mind. Groups within the same classroom should be doing different things but the tasks must be equally challenging. The class doesn't have to be physically divided into groups in order to funcion in a grouped activity. Don't always use the same type of grouping because chances are the same kids will always end up working together. Keep in mind, there are students who work better flying solo.

    I think one of our largest fears as teachers is manageing time in the classroom. The differentiated classroom offers everyone the same ammount of time for assignments to be completed. pg. 144 Obviously, the more prepared you are the better you can manage time.

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  14. The 2 key components to a successfully functioning differentiated classroom are managing the time as well as grouping the students correctly based on the objectives. Time means time to plan as an educator and time allotted to the children to complete a task. Oh and don't forget time for both pre and post assessments. In addition the grouping of students helps to manage them not just with behavior but also with each child's needs for all to have continuous progress.
    Since time seems to be a big deterrent for many teachers (as well as for myself), I appreciate the idea of how much to allow for different projects: 1 class period for a Venn Diagram but Bloom Charts will require longer periods of time (p.145). The Blooms will allow for lots of choices and therefore greater interest.
    I plan to pre-assess before each unit. I will look to my grade level team, my librarian, and my SIS’s to help come up with appropriate pre-assessments. I will also use this book as a reference. When grouping children, I will try different types to see how well each will work for what is expected. Some groupings I plan to try out first are the "Learning Style" (page 139-140) because I realize that one style of learning won't work for everyone and so finding what seems to work best for each then put them in groups according to this will encourage increased learning. I also liked the "Flexible Grouping" like the "Gender" one (page 142). I hate to admit it but even as early as 3rd grade students get distracted by the opposite gender and each gender may (at times) work best when separated.
    Obviously I will try out different groupings as well but these seem to be easiest for me at the start of a year.
    I will wrap up the unit with rubrics and assessments to make sure everyone was able to progress.

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  15. In response to CRoth's July 23rd post, I agree that educators need to constantly be asking themselves "is this kid learning something?" This will help drive teachers to challenge and encourage all students to go well beyond the basic skills because there is no such thing as a "learning ceiling" and as educators we all want our students to continue learning even after they leave our classrooms.

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  16. In response to k evetts:
    I absolutely agree that the time factor is what drives us all wild. I really think time is the factor that stops us from really jumping into new ideas head first. Looking for help outside of the classroom is a great idea.

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  17. Flexible grouping, pgs 139-141-- is KEY in any of my classes. We have open access in our GT/AP classes and a wide swath of abilities, strengths, and weaknesses in our grade level classes. I've found that different students shine in different circumstances and that many students are able to really blossom when they work in such groups. It is also a nice way to hold the students accountable and maintain their interest--"variety" is not only the spice of life, but a teacher's best friend. I often find that by my second or third class of the day, I've modified my lesson or activity based on the students' group work. I really see how this, along with the multiple intelligences discussed on page 140, help during poetry units. Too often, when I discuss a poem, students don't realize that there is more than one way to interpret it. In groups, they see a number of different interpretations and they can also help one another to dissect a poem and open up a word or line that evaded them.

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  18. In response to april tavilson's first post, I had a similar experience a few years ago when I had my students do a research paper based on multiple intelligences. What discussions it led to--friendships were forged over shared interests, and students maintained the level in communication throughout the year. It led to me introducing something similar earlier in the year as an ice-breaker activity.

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  19. In response to l. Davis on July 22 at 5:34, I totally agree with getting the parents on board ~ just like anything else ~ whatever we are doing at school, if the parents are accepting and supportive, it makes things much better for the kiddos.

    I also agree that usually :) when the kids are happy, so are the parents, but I do find just the opposite also occurring. Often if learners come home and talk about how they worked on "something different" than their buddy, parents start wondering why. I think it is best to be proactive in these situations and let the parents know exactly what a differentiated classroom looks like and what things their children can expect... Often if learners come home and talk about how they worked on "something different" than their buddy, parents start wondering why.

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  20. On page 133, it gives the 3 steps to differentiated instruction: 1) Planning Question, 2) Preassessment Question, and 3) Differentiation Question. The author goes on to discuss the different methods of grouping. While each has its uses, I prefer the Flexible Grouping. It allows the students to work with the greatest variety of students (Not always the gifted students working with other gifted students). As s.guillory stated, it is very important to educate the parents on what a differentiated classroom looks like and feels like.

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  21. Kharrell - Key components in managing a differentiated classroom include providing the best oportunity for students to learn. On page 133 it talks about INTENTIONALLY preparing a classroom to respect diversity and high expectations. One of the things I try to do is Flexible Grouping (pg 139) even within the small PGP group - it's amazing that even with in the identifed GT students, there is still a large variable on their learning. At one point I had 22 PGP students in one group - it was imperative that I use flexible and cooperative learning groups as although the students were all GT...I still had to meet those needs. Bringing all of these different ways back to the front of my thinking, makes me realize that I need to remember the different ways of grouping and look to what will work best for the situation, the students and the expecations.
    Time constraints continue to impede differentiation (pg 144) perhaps we need to look at creative ways to develop enrichment and remedial tasks for specific students. Technology provides all kinds of avenues. As teachers we need to look at planning for our students in a positive way, using resources wisely and effectively. Another side I saw in summer school - students need to be instructed on self time management - differentiated learning could be a great way to move some of the skills to the students.

    In response to CRoth, I too was in a tracked class in the 60'-70's and couldn't break the track...as a result of where I was put I had limited access to activities and lessons...I work extremely hard now to try the various groupings so that students strength are utilized, students have different strengths in different areas...we need to make sure they shine where they can.

    in response to of life...I agree that many times when a group comes to the library - one GT student will be in a group, rather than working together and being able to extend them again. We need to be aware of flexible and cooperative learning groups to help enrich and extend the GT student even further.

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  22. Key components to managing a differentiated classroom, as outlined on page 133 of the text include 3 key components: Planning Question, Preassessment Question, and Differentiated Question.

    In addition, it is mentioned that incorporating other components such as Venn diagrams, tic-tac-toe activities, and Bloom charts are highly encouraged to continue learning in a variety of ways in a differentiated classroom.

    Other areas to consider would be methodical grouping of students in the class as well as quality time spent throughout the instructional time.

    Chapter 9 continues to speak to the assessment side of differentiation and grading mechanisms.

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  23. Grouping kids is a key component for classroom management in a differentiated classroom. I have found that guided reading groups based on reading levels is key to making continuous progress. It is important, however, to assess progress throughout the year and keep the groups flexible to avoid the kind of tracking the author discusses(p.134). I think grouping students in book clubs based on interest keeps all students engaged in learning.p.134 Additionally, they end up with students they don't usually collaborate with and it makes for a good lesson in social interaction. However, often times, the club will be all GT students since the book could be at a higher level and I do the final tweaking of its members. We too, have clusters at our school and this has been helpful. Based on our total number identified GT students for that year, students are placed in GT certified teachers classes in a cluster of five to eight students. p.136 I agree with the author that new leaders emerge from non-clustered classrooms (P137). I use flexible grouping in that groups are always changing based on instructional intent. I have not grouped for multiple intelligences,though, and I liked the READO example and would like to modify it to use in my classroom (P140). Admittedly, I have done my share of random groups due to my desire to hurry an activity along (p.143).


    In response to Croth on July 23rd...
    I agree that a cluster of eight in an elementary classroom is too large. I had eight in a class of seventeen and it was a bit overwhelming to meet the needs of all of the students. Additionally, I had some exceptionally strong personalities in the group. It was a memorable year.

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  24. “When students are given appropriate choices and learning experiences are matched to needs, interest, readiness or abilities, fewer cases of managing behavior exist.” (Page 133) I believe this is the key component to managing any classroom behavior. I’ve found that students act out when bored or frustrated. On going assessments are critical to setting up learning experiences.
    In order to create learning experiences matched to individual abilities I will start by preassessing and using the three questions on page 133. What do I want all students to know, understand and be able to do? Who already knows, understands, and can use the content or demonstrate the skill? What can I do so that there is continuous progress?
    The next component is how one manages student grouping. The author really made an impact with the first paragraph on page 134. Intent is again so very important when grouping children. After reading the section on managing grouping I realized I definitely agree students need to be grouped differently for optimal learning versus social development. The once widely used grouping with one low, one average, one high average, and one gifted student was definitely frustrating for all involved. We need to remember to always have a strong reason for grouping kids based on preassessments.
    The last component for managing a differentiated classroom is time. Page 145 states unit time and individual class time are constants. It is also stated that time will be the same for everyone regardless of how they are learning the material. This makes sense and is realistic. Assessing, developing lessons, Think-Tac-Toe menus, Bloom Charts and gathering materials for products in all subject areas is a huge task that requires time for planning and working with others on your team.

    In response to Melissa and Croth I am sorry but I have to disagree about grouping up to 8 GT kids in an elementary classroom. I had one of the clusters of 8 GT kids out of 22 in second grade. I loved it. I was able to create true flexible groups since the students all had such different strengths and areas for improvement. When there are only 3 or 4 GT kids it is hard to group when one student works at 4th grade level for math, another is reading at a fifth grade level, 1 child is reading on grade level and the last child has no math skills. For me it was easier to meet individual needs with the 8 kids clustered together.

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  25. “When a climate that encourages differentiation is established at the beginning of the school year, students understand that all people learn in different ways, bring different experiences to the learning environment, and learn at different paces.” (p. 145) It is imperative that this begins at the beginning of the school year, so that I know my students better. With this knowledge, I can better meet their individual needs and implement flexible grouping to allow for them to be grouped in many purposeful ways. “Flexible grouping is the process of varying why and how students are grouped; the key is altering the grouping so that children are matched with a variety of young people for a variety of reasons.”(p.139) The inventories will help me to group my students in many different and meaningful ways. Continuous progress remains the goal for each student and it must be documented. I will also have the key questions posted so that I can review them during planning. “ What do I want all students to know, understand, and be able to do? Who already knows, understands, and /or can use the content to demonstrate the skill? What can I do for him/her so they can make continuous progress and extend their learning? When we manage the learning effectively, there will be less student misbehavior to manage. “Engaged, interested students stay on task.” For my classroom, I will be doing more inventories at the beginning of the year, and using that information for a variety of intentional purposes. I will get input from the parents, as well, to assist in this process. Time management continues to be an issue in schools, but I do like some of their ideas. “The time will be the same for everyone in the class regardless of how they’re learning the material.” (p.144) Hopefully, intentional planning will also assist in managing time effectively for all.

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  26. In response to kd on 7/25, I agree that we must also remember our kids who like to work alone. The inventories will let us know who they are, and we can plan accordingly.

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  27. melissa cernosekJuly 28, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    The key components to managing a differentiated classroom are figuring out what you want all the kids to know/do, figuring out what they already know/can do, and creating differentiated learning experiences so that all students make continuos progress. In addition to that, once the teacher has figured out who knows what, he/she must also consider how to group students and how to manage the time available.

    Differentiating to meet the needs of my students has ALWAYS been one of my top priorities each year but I know that I have never fully given my brightest kids what they need as most of my time was spent prepping, planning, and instructing my lowest ones. This year I am going to approach things in a different way, starting with weaving preassessments into my plans from the very beginning and setting myself up for the realization that I will not always be giving every one the same test (project,etc.) to see what they have learned.

    I also agree with what william allen said about improving his record keeping. I am used to keeping detailed records of small group instruction to document the progress of students who need extra help but now I realize I need to keep more detailed notes of all of my students in order to determine if they are making continuous progress.

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  28. Utilizing the 3 key questions on page 133 that lead to differentiation is crucial in managing a differentiated classroom. This will allow me to be well prepared and well planned. These questions also lend themselves to the type of grouping I will choose to use throughout the school year. I think it is important to remember that the author states pg. 138 that gifted children become frustrated with cooperative learning groups that are of mixed ability in a heterogeneous class.

    1. Planning question- What do I want the students to know, understand, and be able to do?
    This question deals with the objective and the final result at the end of the unit/theme.

    2. Preassessment question- who already knows understands and/or can use the content to demonstrate the skill? Pre-assessment will show me where my students are at. It will allow me to focus on what the child needs to learn. I will develop my lesson plans according to the needs of my students. Pre-assessment information is also a great way to record and prove to the parents of my students, and my administrators that I am making informed, educated, intentional decisions in the best interest of my students.

    3. Differentiation question-What can I do for him, her or them so they can make continuous progress and extend their learning? Getting to know my students is so important and , providing the flexibility to have them produce a variety of products that will reflect their learning style best will not only engage my students but make learning meaningful and it won’t impede their learning.

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  29. I totally agree with Allen(Rob's)comment 7/22/10
    It will require alot of time to create differentiated lesson plans but it will be so rewarding to see my students thrive and learn in a way that best suits their needs. I am so excited but nervous as well. I am a little overwhelemed.

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  30. The three key components are posted on page 133, Planning, Pre Assessment and Differentiation. In my opinion all three of these relate back to good planning and intent. I like the clarification on page 136 of the difference between tracking and cluster grouping. I think it is important to vary the groups so that the students do not feel as if they are always in the low group, however, I had a student last year who was so much lower than the rest of the students it was difficult to group him. He felt inadequate when placed with higher ability kids and isolated when placed alone. It was a balancing act trying to get the most out of him academically as well as fostering his self esteem.

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  31. I agree with L Davis' post the second to last bullet on page 144, "Vary the way you group kids." is a valid point. I think that as the year progresses, it is comfortable to fall into the same routine of grouping.

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  32. The key components in managing a differentiated classroom are intent (purpose) - what do I want all students to know, understand or demonstrate, preassessment - who already knows it, and how can I differientate so all studnets are making continuous progress. (pg.133) Preassessment is mentioned over and over in this book and I have really come to realize the importance for preassessment. This is something that I am going to try to implement in all subject areas this year on a more consistent basis.

    As I read this chapter I reflected on the way I have grouped students in the past and I have been guilty of putting one of my GT students or higher-achieving students in groups where students were struggling more. What ended up happening was the higher-achieving student carried the rest of the group and did the bulk of the work. I have also had to create groups based on behavior...although I wonder if I grouped based on interest more if the behavior would no longer be a problem because the students share a common interest.

    The author’s stated, “Gifted students benefit from learning together, and need to be placed with similar students in their areas of strength.” (pg.137) One year I had 5 GT students in my class. This was the most we have had a in a grade level for a few years. When I grouped those 5 students together to work on projects or assignments, it was horrible….without fail arguing and tears ensued. They did not work well together because they each thought they had the best idea or the best way of doing things. The 3 girls all had such strong personalities. For the rest of the year, I had to split them up among my class and generally things were much calmer. Last year my one GT student did not like working in groups. He would do it if I didn’t give him a choice, but he liked doing things by himself.
    My students participated in group or partner work much more than I did when I was in school. The cooperative learning group criteria (pg.137-138) was very interesting to read and so true! Last year students worked on a year-long group project and at the end they each reflected on how their group worked together and how each individual member worked. I asked them to grade their group members with comments. They were very honest…even the students who slacked off and knew they slacked off graded themselves lower than what I would have given them.
    Coleman (2005) stated that “cooperative learning activities must include ‘flexibility, choice, and challenge’, such as problem-based learning and the jigsaw method.” (pg.138) I have done some problem-based learning units with great success. Is it a lot of work on the teacher—yes! There is a lot of work gathering the materials and planning it, but once it is launched the students are doing the work.This is something I will continue doing in class.

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  33. I agrees with Lallen in the first post that the three elements of a differentiated classroom look simple put include so much more I am marking pages 133 to remind me to ask the three questions as I plan units. I will be using each question carefully as I get to know the new group of "workers" in my room. Grouping is always a hard item for me and I will make a definite effort to get the groups to be more flexible and along interest lines.

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  34. Before I start to plan I will use these 3 key questions: Planning Question-What do I want all students to know, understand, and be able to do? Preassessment Question-Who already knows, understands, and/or can use the content or demonstrate the skill? Differentiation Question-What can I do for him, her, or them so they can make continuous progress and extend their learning? (pg. 133) I think these are very important, but what I think is the most critical is the preassessment. Once you know what each student knows and understands, then it will be easier for you to figure out how you’re going to group your students. I can say that Preassessment has been my weakest point because of time, but after reading this book, it has made me understand how this is extremely important. Thinking back about my previous classes, I can say that if I would have done preassessment it would have saved me from unmotivated students.

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  35. In response to bboza, I know how you feel, I had a student last year who was low, and it was hard to group him. I also had a small class which made it a little harder. I know that preassessing will help me group my students a lot better.

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  36. In response to Mrs. Winegar’s post on July 25th at 9:30 pm—I totally agree with you about flexible grouping, even in high school.  I can relate to your tale about interpreting poetry. Everyone thinks differently and the only way to grow as a learner is to hear what others are thinking. I’ve been in similar situations where I totally benefitted from hearing another point of view.
    Kids learn more when they have the opportunity to talk about what they are learning. Reading and writing are social acts so when students are grouped according to their interests, learning styles, etc everyone learns!

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  37. I like how simple it is layed out on page 133. The 3 steps make it seem simple. I think that it will take a LOT of work and practice to make this happen. I do not have any GT students right now but plan on using this strategy with my other students. I believe that I should strive to differentiate for all of my students. I think that there can be great benefits. The steps are straight forward but once you start thinking about it, they are much more complex than at first glance. My main focus this year is going to be on preassessing my students.

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  38. in response to william allen

    "This means I must improve my record keeping skills and stay away from the pitfalls of giving every student the same assessment to determine progress." I couldn't agree more! I need to find an easy way to stay on top of the progress so that I can administer varying assessments.

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  39. Thanks for posting such as a good question...Sounds like intricate...

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