Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Differentiation in Small Bites: Mindset


   This seems to be the catch word of the day.  We all have a particular mindset towards how we believe instruction should look, feel, and be implemented.  It is important, in my humble opinion, that to start off this series, you should be well aware of what I believe is the foundation of differentiation.  Your mindset. You mindset towards teaching a classroom full of children who come from variety of backgrounds, interests, abilities, and strengths. 
    If you believe, all students deserve to grow each year they are in school. (This means the students beyond grade level keep moving up the educational ladder, as well as, the on level and struggling students.) If you hold fast to the thought, every child is unique and can fully participate through their strengths in your classroom. Plus, if you desire to do the work it takes to make that happen, you and I have the same mindset.
    You may not agree with all those statements or you may believe it to pie in the sky thinking.  You can still differentiate without the same mindset as mine.  I encourage you to take time to reflect on what your mindset truly is and how it shapes your instruction.  Those just exiting the teacher preparation stage of life, you have been doing this all along.  Those who, like me have been in this career for multiple decades, we sometimes need to be reminded to revisit reflective practice.
    Basically, in a nutshell, I whole heartedly believe to make differentiation work you must cling to the premise that each and every child deserves the best teaching I can provide for them.
     Give me your thoughts and feedback. Best practice includes conversation, which strengthens and extends our views and practice.
Next bites: management....one loaded word!!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Classroom Differentiation in Small Bites - What is and is not?

Differentiation started out as a way for teachers to teach their highest learners, much like accommodations are for the students on IEPs.  Many misconceptions have arisen through the years.  This poster addresses the principles that I find important in differentiated instruction.  It by no means covers it all. It is meant to give you a glimpse into my viewpoint as I start this series.

Please, feel free to copy, pin, or pass along to other instructors.

 What would be on your differentiation is and is not list?


Saturday, December 27, 2014

February is on its way!

I have been given the opportunity to speak at our Nebraska Association for Gifted this coming Feb.  It is just as one of the break out sessions.  My nerves have been on high alert since the announcement earlier this month.  There is a FANTASTIC Facebook page ....  Encouraging Teachers... of which I belong.  I asked the members to let me know what they would like to know about the subject of differentiation.
DRUM ROLL.....teachers want to know....
       * Time management
       * Managing independence while teaching small groups or     individuals
       * make, take and use items
       * What to do about the unmotivated gifted students?  Boredom?
       * How to get other teachers of same students on board or working together?
       * teaching independence
       * ways to monitor independent work
       * keeping "superiority complex" at bay

Tall order!!

I will keep you abreast of how it is going and think out my ideas here as well.

The questions and some pleas for information bolstered my thoughts about this not forgotten but definitely on the FAR back burner blog.
It is my intent....with prayer and commitment...to start writing regularly on my blog in order to get ideas flowing about how to truly have a classroom where EVERY student learns and accomplished all they can each day, each quarter, each year.  Another tall order!

I found it easier to comment and give thoughts towards questions they asked.  So, I have only a few followers, but I hope you ask questions about how to differentiate.  That will spur this blog along.

Hallways, Classrooms, and Computer Labs "OH MY!"

It is the best thing!

    It is FINALLY October!  (Or end of Dec.  Not sure why I didn't post this! Crazy yr.)

         Not only do I love it for the crisp fresh breezes, pumpkin everything, smells of  baking and fireplaces....But the greatest is that my kiddos are demonstrating the constant consistent work of following through even when I just want to through my hands up and say fine run the room!!! 
    When you take the time to send a small group back to practice for the five hundredth time, while the remainder of the students turn the corner making their way out of sight, integrity! Will they make it to the room without disrupting every classroom along the way? YES!! In fact, doing so impressing teachers as they make their way through the crowded hallway.
    INSERT~~~ Happy dance! Happy dance!
    Music Master turns on Weird Al's "Eat It" and even students working in the hall hop up, come in, put away one subject, and set up for the one after lunch. YES!!! Other adults in the room recognize the students' behaviors and independence. Lunch is a huge motivator!  Students are taking on responsibility in the classroom, following through without reminder after reminder, and independence is flourishing. 


    Taking time....3 weeks or more at start of school....
to get to know students
 (inventories and surveys)

teach about how the brain works
setting expectations together
follow through with consequences
reteach expectations over and over and over...
put students in charge...give them responsibilities
expect that they will and are able to complete the task
continually remind the class that everyone learns differently
and have different talents to make our classroom the best ever
teach and talk like you believe every child can and will grow everyday in your room
It is NOT good enough to say it then treat them like one large group.
They are individuals.  They all learn differently and deserve our passion to teaching them
where they are and move them from there to where they can go.