This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
At first, I rolled my eyes at the thought of Think-tac-toe! What I teach is structured (we do notes, labs and problems) and I thought I was wasting my time with Chapter 7. Then, I got to the Multiple Intelligences and Interests on p112-113. I have students who are far more creative than I ever could be, and I strive to work with them. Some of my labs could be conducted with a Think-Tac-Toe! It will take a little re-writing, but I think some of the labs could be better (and not ‘fill-in-the-blank’ types). In addition, I have more labs than class time to do them. I could use Think-Tac-Toe to have them design their own lab (even though they will not realize it) and do a more through write-up! I have found giving high school students a complete carte blanche (I say: Write a lab report) yields very poor results. When I give them a structure and freedom within that structure, they give me outstanding results!
A-Ha!~Reinforcement~ Bloom's Taxonomy. (Chpt. 7 p. 117) Bloom's continues to provide an excellent way to differentiate learning for my students. My intention to thoughtfully provide experiences to help increase my students' level of achievement is critical. The Think-tac-toe is not a new concept to me. I have seen teachers ( Ex. jmoney) utilize this format in a variety of ways. The new learning for me is in the structural design of the format for student choice which also considers a type of learning repetition for students with learning difficulties. I like the thought of designing Multiple Intelligences (MI) (Chpt. 7 p. 112-113) for the Think-Tac-Toe in one subject area and then using Bloom's and others for another. This chapter is full of good tools to consider while planning for differentiation.
After reading this section, I was inspired to begin next year with a MI pg. 111. This and a pre-test for ability will determine my first grouping for centers which focus on grammar. I will also teach a mini lesson on how to study, with students identifying their strengths to retain information.After reading the tools for differentiating, my “A-ha!” was that I was able to see how I could take several of my “whole class reads” and differentiate. I was also excited to put into play Think-Tac-Toe pgs.104-105 for one of my units and another following the Bloom’s chart models pg. 109. By using these models of differentiation, all of the students will be receiving the same initial information but their end product and demonstration of knowledge will be produced through different modes and at different levels. Both of these units offer possibilities of extended research. These strategies will allow the students to choose the areas that interest them and suits their learning styles. I think these strategies may inspire other students to “reach” for more if they see others doing things that excited them rather than choosing to do the bare minimum or an assignment that is given as whole class.
One A-HA moment for me when reading was on page 92. I was thinking while reading the chapter on differentiating with venn diagrams about how I would love to show my class a 4 cirlce venn diagram. I loved how on page 92 it discussed having each child individually focus on a 1 character single circle, moving to partners combining their circles and finally to the 2 groups combining their venn diagrams to make a 4 oval venn. This whole page really made me realize how this could naturally fit into a classroom and how much the kids would love to create their own, work with a partner, work with a group and then share their findings!
I never would have thought of using Venn Diagrams as a pre-assessment or an assessment (pages 89 and 92). After reading the book though, I could see how it would be helpful. Using the diagram as a pre-assessment would definitely give me an idea of the background knowledge my students have on the upcoming content. It wouldn’t take long for them to draw a Venn Diagram in their content journal and fill in the ovals. It would be an easy and quick pre-assessment. I was also surprised by the amount of ovals used in some of the diagrams. I have used the two and three oval diagrams, but never a fourth oval! (page 93) This could really provide students room to show their creativity and depth of understanding.
One "A-Ha" moment came for me on p. 86 when it pointed out that above level students don't want assignments that give four times the work of other students. Thus, on the Venn diagrams teachers should require the same number of examples even though they are working with more circles. Having many more hours of work tacked on has been a common complaint of some GT students in all levels and this turns them off of education.
I agree with wattb that using the Bloom's chart models for Think-Tac-Toe would be an excellent way to assure that all students were using higher level thinking skills for an activity.
My "a-ha"/reinforcement moment was when I read p. 89-90. All students complete a single oval and then meet with a partner or group to complete a multi-oval diagrams. This not only holds all students accountable, but it of course then encourages cooperation and higher level thinking for everyone involved. Also, as I mentioned in my answer for the 1st question for this session. I love appendix H's box charts. I really feel these are going to be a great stepping stone for introducing the multi-oval Venn diagrams to those students who may not be ready for the Venn organization but are still capable of thinking on a higher level or getting them to the place where they are ready to think on a higher level.
In response to illgl on July 7: I agree with you that often some feel that more work equals more challenge. More work just means more work and this often does turn students off from seeking a challenge or continuing learning on their own. Expectations should be the same for all students, but how those expectations are met is what allows for differentiation.
In response to wattb on July 6: I like what you said about motivation. These strategies allow for choice, but if the choices are really thought out and address different learning styles, students will enjoy the process. Other students will see this and be motivated by their peers to rise to a challenge and then hopefully reach a point to where the motivation comes from themselves.
I will definitely be more cognizant about grouping students. In the past I just sort of did it randomly, but now I realize the importance of using preassessments to determine interestes, learning styles, and readiness levels when setting up groups. This process of "flexible grouping" is explained on pp. 139-143.
Re kimberlym: I had never thought of using Venn Diagrams as assessments either. I have used them to teach concepts because they help ME get organized and present a picture of the concepts. I usually only use 2 intersecting ovals (I never present three concepts to my students at one time) I had never used a separate oval at the bottom of the page, but I see how it could be used in my subject.
Re illgl: I totally agree! Not only do they NOT want four times the work of another student (and they DO compare assignments) – they often try to do the work given with one-fourth of the effort! I have had some of them spend more effort trying to get an assignment reduced or eliminated than if they had just done the assignment.
I definately think that my aha moment was in reading chapter 6 since it presents so many different ways to use Venn diagrams. I have used them for basic activities but by adding additonal ovals, I can see how it raises the rigor and complexity of an activity. As I read the section of "In class individual and /or Group Activities" on p.92 where the author describes how Venn diagrams can be used individually and then be used in pair, and groups it made me think of the RtI models of instruction in which teachers gradually deliver instructin from whole group to small groups in which student groups can be working on the same activity and then eventually each group can do a different activity depending on each groups needs and how the teacher groups the students. In response to Amanda on July 5, I definately agree that differentiating with Venn diagrams can fit into the classroom since it allow for flexibility in student groupings. By allowing children to work in variety of ways and groupings will motivate students so they do not always work with the same person and groups all the time. In response to NLopez on July 8, I agree with what you have stated that expectations should be the same for all students. I definately think that when expectations are raised students will reach them with the right scaffolding and support so they can be successful. More work does not mean more learning. As it has been stated by the author some of the tools presented in the book need to be considered carefully but most of all with intention and purpose.
In response to solorzano, I was impressed by the variety of Venn Diagrams. I never would have thought that you could make a Venn Diagram so complex! I agree with the quote/section you mentioned. We do need to start small and have them work in small groups to create a larger Venn Diagram to give all students exposure to a more complex way of thinking.
Like ms. gio, I often just let the students get in their own groups, or sorted them in some haphazard way. I did sort some by abilities and interest, but this year I am going to try to add some different sorting techniques using MI and be more cognizant of the group structure.
This comment has been removed by the author.
An "Ah-ha" moment I had was "the key to differentiation is not more but different." (pg.86) At first I was thinking "wonderful, another more work idea without real deep thinking." However, when the author stated, "Everyone tackles the same concepts, but on his or her own level" (pg.85)I had a change of heart. GT kids shouldn't have to do more work because they already the concepts. They need more rich thinking lesson.I also have to say I would never have thought about using venn diagrams as a way to differentiate. It seems so simple, yet it really does get complex as you had ovals.
@wattb - I really like your idea that students will be inspired by each other's products so much more than by everyone doing the same project. It reminds my of a statement in the book about how this allows the presentations to be more of a "what'd you get?" rather than a competition.
My ah ha moment came when I read on page 101, "When children are accustomed to the fact that not everyone will learn everything in the same way, it becomes a common place to have different options presented." If we make the students aware that everyone learns differently then they will be more accepting when one student has to solve a problem or answer a question in a different manner than the others. I guess I am so worried about other students seeing that I am allowing another student to do something different they will start saying "that's not fair." But, by using the tic tac toe method, it allows all students to perform and have choices.
in response to amandas... I think that is a wonderful idea and I am going to add it to my check list for next. I like the idea of having one group focus on two of the circles and then other group do 2 circles and then combine them.
in response to a mitch... You just gave me another ah ha moment. I think we as teachers get lost in making all students complete the same product in order to make sure they all have learned the content, but why? When we could broadening the minds of our GT by allowing them to fully use their creative abilities to produce a wonderful product for what they have learned.
The idea of using 4 ovals was an "A-Ha" moment for me. Although I think some students would find this very confusing, students who are gifted would find this a good way to make connections and think abstractly as stated on page 84. I liked the variety of templates in Appendix G.I like the use of Venn diagrams for preassessment and as a note taking tool when introducing new content as stated on page 89.Chapter 6 have given me a whole new insight on the uses of Venn diagrams in the classroom.
I wasn't sure how far to read, so I finished the chapters. So here it goes:When reading the section on grouping I realized that I use several of those techniques already in my classroom. I always tell my students that they will wind up working with everybody over the year and I utilize different kinds of groups in different situations.An a-ha I had was that I don't have to be a master at this as soon as I return to my classroom. I have to remember that I have a learning curve too for new things, and although I've already tried and used differentiating practices in my classroom (with mixed results), I've got to keep trying and keeping moving forward. "It isn't possible to go from little or no differentiation to differentiating all the time...." p. 169. The whole paragraph reminded me to be patient with myself and take it in steps.
In response to amandas, "This whole page really made me realize how this could naturally fit into a classroom and how much the kids would love to create their own, work with a partner, work with a group and then share their findings!" I really like this idea too and can't wait to try it in my classroom.
In response to wattb on July 5th, I agree with your thinking about products motivating other kids to complete their assignments with their best effort. If students are able to see other students products are quality, they will reflect on their own work and want to make it even better.
My a-ha moment started on page 105. I loved how the book showed all the different ways you could use the think tac toe in your classroom. It could be used to take subjects to a higher level, as a project with a unit, for a semester review, a unit assessment and so much more! I hadn't thought of the versatility of the think tac toe in a classroom. I also really loved the example in figure 7.2 on page 106 because it gave me a great example in a unit that we cover in my classroom.
The Think-Tac-Toe is a wonderful way to vary process and content. Once again the author takes into account that Think-Tac-Toe is multipurpose and it is based on the teacher’s “intention” (page 109). I would apply this strategy for an investigative research unit. Each child will be given the main concepts to investigate and from there each child takes his or her own approach in completing the chart with their expectations. The topic for example, could be research a classic toy and the physics behind it. Find out the history of that classic toy and why the student thinks it’s been labeled “a classic.” Students pick their own toy (considering it must be applicable to physics principles being employed), chart out their course of action given the particular criteria for the project. As another Think-Tac-Toe, students will chart out a new version of their classic toy and apply propaganda techniques taught to sell their new, improved version of the toy to the class.
"When children are accustomed to the fact that not everyone will learn everything in the same way, it becomes commonplace to have different options presented.", p.113. I'm a little embarassed to admit that this was my a-ha moment - mainly because it reminded me that I need to be intentional in clueing the kids in to this fact.
In response to ms. gio, I, too, will definitely be more cognizant about grouping students. I'm with you. I usually let students choose their own groups or I form groups somewhat randomly. I now realize the importance of intention.
In response to becky, that quote stuck out to me too. I feel like some of my students are so concerned with what other students are doing. By helping students become "accustomed to the fact that not everyone will learn everything in the same way," students will focus on their own learning (113).
My "A-Ha" moment was applying choice to learning grammar. I guess I'm so focused on 7th grade writing and mini-lessons, but in Figure 7.10, I see how students can apply their grammar skills while still having choice (115). I feel foolish for not thinking of this years ago. I'm so glad that I'm finally catching on though!
As an educator it is my responsibility to make sure whole learning does take place for my gifted students. To accomplish this, the gifted child is experiencing whole learning when differentiation strategies are being taught. When they are given tasks that meet their special needs (based on pre-assessment) and are given the opportunity to make choices, and are being challenged, and they are actively engaged, you’ve got the right ingredients for successful learning.
oops...the above response was intended for question # 3....sorry
I will incorporate the Think-Tac-Toe with the content taught in my classroom on Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. Students can chart their understanding of the 3 laws and give examples to match the physics principle of the 3 laws. This could be used as an assessment tool. Rather than an assessment method such as a test, this will prove to be more informative as each child relates the laws to specific examples they think of. Their skill level will be matched to their accuracy of their understanding of the laws and specifically the examples they give.(My "Ah-ha" moment) Also I would like to take physics principles, such as speed, velocity, centrifugal force, kinetic and potential energy, mass, weight, etc. and use a Think-Tac-Toe to show their understanding after experiments/discovery activities have been done with each of the physics principles.
I liked that on pg. 107 it says that you don't have to sacrifice your standards for end results. It suggests that if you want a pen and paper assessment of the learning, then it is perfectly fine to count that as half the points while the Think Tac Toe could be worth the other 50 points. This still allows me to let them explore their interests and learning styles while still allowing me to check for specific points, which may or may not have been addressed in their projects. I believe this helps keep the student motivated and excited, while still giving them a greater chance and feeling successful with their learning. Obviously there are times where both would be more appropriate. My thoughts and teaching were also reinforced in this unit as I started asking myself, "well, what about my kids who are not GT and are struggling learners? Pg. 114 reminded me that this model, when intentionally designed by the educator, creates various designs that meet the children's varying need or readiness levels. They referred to this as the Cracker Jack scenario.
In response to what Becky and Weedin said on July 12, that stood out to me, as well. I see the importance to being "intentional". I like to allow my students to have the choice of choosing their own groups; perhaps with the Think-Tac-Toe model, it would be more important for students to be grouped in specific ways, allowing them each to thrive and learn from each other.In response to what Nlopez said on July 8, I also do not believe that "more work=more challenge" and in turn often turns kids off to the activities or learning in general. I think that the models we have been studying here allow for more creativity and challenge from all learners.
Some reinforcement items pertaining to the Think-Tac-Toe strategy are:~The educational professional must be very intentional about the options provided....Regardless of the intent, the options must be purposefully selected so that needs, interests, or abilities of students are taken into consideration. (pg 103)~Hands-on, minds-on options revolutionize a unit or semester review. (pg 105)~Think-Tac-Toes can be rigorous (pg 107)~provisions of multiple product options that appeal to different kinds of learners (pg 110)~encourages students to stretch themselves and leave their comfort zones of ideal modalities, and it also provides the opportunity to work in their preferred style some of the time (pg 111)~Tomlinson’s Novel Think-Tac-Toe activities. Two sheets that allow for differentiation on several levels: novel selection, rigor of options, and assessment. [One sheet with less challenging items] (pg 115)~I look forward to the opportunity to make the differentiated Think-Tac-Toe boxes fit the needs of the students and the curriculum--with intention and purpose.~I like the fact that the authors give examples rather than just a nebulous suggestion and expect you to make one out of thin air. I’m sure it gets easier as you use the format, but getting started is sometimes a barrier unto itself.
In response to nlopez on July 7, I love the idea of using the oval independently and then partner up or meet in a group. Letting the students give reasons behind their answers, working together, taking turns, giving each other ideas to branch off from, etc... are all wonderful aspects of this activity. The opportunities for higher level thinking and scaffolding their learning are endless.
In response to ratliffb on July 11th, I understand your reticence in providing different options for children. I do think the Think-Tac-Toe would be a great place to begin offering choice. It will not only help answer student questions about why one student is getting a different assignment, but will also help in answering parent questions.
I have to go back to the Think-Tac-Toe. I have seen something similar to this before, but the thing that really made me think was when I read about each student knowing that others may have other parts to their project, but they are all learning and presenting their ideas. Kids need to understand that others learn in different ways other than what is "the norm".
In response to angelam:I agree! The examples given really help when trying to think of how to incorporate this into your classroom. So many times you see a great idea but can't really imagine how it will go with your kids.
In response to swagner:I think that is the key. Sometimes when you try something new and it doesn't work perfectly, you are completely bummed and defeated. We have to remember that ideas change and we can try anything more than once!
My "A-Ha" moment was on page 130 where the authors give you ideas of how to assess the products from Think-Tac-Toe. As I read this chapter, I was thinking to myself "boy grading will be a lot more time consuming with 3 assignments instead of one". However, during writing I give my students several weeks to practice the skills I have taught them through CCP (consume, critique, and produce). Each student usually has five pieces of writing by the end of each unit and I have let my students choose which one they would like for me to grade. So, it all came together in the end to me; allow the students to choose the product that they would like to be graded, but keep them accountable by "randomly selecting another assignment to grade" page 130. That human nature thing is quite crucial to remember when dealing with students, they will achieve what is expected and more when supported and encouraged. So, aim high!!
In response to rpiccolatx on July 12th @ 6:21; I agree with you whole heartedly on the eductor having choice here. We are just as happy with choice as our students are!
In response to wattb on July 5th @ 3:27; I had not thought about your idea of the children being inspired by peer work and effort. That is another great outcome of intentioanl choice for our students.
My a-ha moment came from looking at those venn diagrams in chapter 6! I have not used more than two circles at once in my classroom. I had never thought to use them as a preassessment tool either (page 89) and I think that is brilliant! I also loved using venn diagrams as a graphic organizer to help with writing assignments as mentioned on page 91.
In response to Weedin, I am just thrilled that you are thinking about grammar and how to use "choice" with it. Grammar seemed to get overlooked as a core content of writing. Grammar Gremlins Unite!