While there wasn't anything particularly "new" to implement from the book, I think the thing I will probably take away from this is continuing to pre-assess, not just during those magic assessment windows the district gives us at the beginning and end of each year, but throughout the year. I try to do it often, but I know that when things get hectic as the year goes on, sometimes is falls by the wayside. Anecdotal records, running records, self-checks and so on are great tools I can use to really know my students, their interests, strengths, and areas needing more support.
Overall, I think my favorite unit was the ABC unit. This unit is great for kindergarten. The students come into kindergarten at different levels and this unit would be a perfect way to differentiate for those who are already reading and writing, learning letter names and sounds, and those in the middle. This book definitely reminded me how important it is to constantly pre-assess the children. It really does guide your differentiation and your lesson planning, so its something I need to make sure I am doing with each new unit.
I will implement the tiered assignments and choice of homework with some of the units I teach. I will mention this to my teammates as we plan. I think besides the concept of choice it also takes into accountmultiple intelligences and student learning styles.
I'm going to use the entire Geometry unit with my PGP kids this year. I find that rather amazing since I don't like Geometry one little bit. But it incorporates math, which I know is something we're being asked to do with our PGP lessons. Also, my GPG kids are all bi-lingual and math is taught in English so that will help with the language barrier. I love the level 2 prompts that are included - esp. the one about a world without circles. Rather then having the children write in a journal I'm going to let them use a blog and perhaps make books in bookr or tikatok (I did the 11 tools this summer).
Mrs. M - the Kinder unit was/is by far my favorite unit. I will incorporate some of the ideas in my Kinder library lessons. I plan to read "What's Inside" (p. 26) we'll create a What's inside booklet on the ActivBoard - or in Bookr
I'll use the formats and adapt them to my music lessons/projects - but I'll replace the pencil/paper stuff with technological choices.It encourages me to use many pre-assessment tools.
In the last unit, I really liked the idea of the +/∆ chart (p.172). It can be used in a variety of class activities as a way for students to reflect on their learning experience. I can see myself using that continuously throughout the school year.I thought the geometry unit was fantastic. I especially liked the focus on “structure” as expressed in the unit concepts and generalizations (p. 96). It gives geometry a real-world application. From the probability unit, I liked the creation of chance charts (p. 137, 141). I think it will be very beneficial to my English-language learners to understand what the terms, “probable, likely, unlikely, improbable,” etc. mean.In the unit on “What Plants Need” I liked the activity that had students as resident experts for a station. I can see how that can enhance students’ sense of competence. In all of the units, I appreciated the pre-assessments that were not a typical pencil and paper pretest. I will adapt the ideas to our curriculum this year.
From this book I really appreciated the thoroughness and details of the units. I think this will give me a nice skeleton outline of what I can use in my own classroom. While nothing was necessarily new, I did appreciate the practicality of it all.
Katie, ITA - I like how practical and hands on this book is. It's not theory, it's actual examples of the practice in action
This book reminds me that differentiation is not just about providing students with choice and giving them work that is at their level. It is so much more than that. I think this book reminds me of the importance of planning for differentiation, especially pre-assessing as a way to determine what the students need. I will also carry with me the quote form p. 8: "differentiation is always a way up, never a way out."
The idea that I will implement from this book directly to my classroom are going to be giving the students more choice in their daily assignments depending on their learning styles and needs. I think the variety will cut down on alot of the resistance to do work because if they decide what they want- they are more likely to do it.- Sharon G.
I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the units in this book. It was a fantastic reminder about differentiation and all that we can do to serve the varied populations that appear in our classrooms or small groups on a regular and random basis. Specifically, I'm going to start PGP in August after a quick "get to know you" unit with either the Geometry unit or the We're All In It Together unit. The reason I'm going to use one or both of these units is that I think they are both great ways to assess the types of learners I have in PGP this year. In addition, I believe both of the units are high interest and will "grab" my kiddos from the start to keep them focused and dedicated to their tasks.
I am definitely going to use the unit on literature circles. This is something I have been trying to do for the past two years, but have had difficulty getting my second graders on board. First of all I couldn't decide what roles to include and even then how I wanted them to look. I had met with collegues at the end of last year and talked about this very thing! I am so excited about this unit!
I am planning to use many of the ideas (like CKohl just said - Pre-assessment) to help guide my instruction. I love the way that they broke things down step by step and how they had opportunities to allow for higher level learning to take place. I also enjoyed the "menu" option and for me, that will most likely be the MAIN thing I am taking away... Oh, yea, and these 3 Units: We're All in it Together, The Wold of Geometry & It's All A Matter of Chance. I've done the literature circles before, but we are more into the Daily 5 from the 2 Sisters. :)
I am going to use a lot more pre-assessment this year. That will help me develop more tiered assignments for the students. I will also give more choices for homework assignments connected to the tiered classroom assignments. The fluid grouping will also be implemented.
Carrie, it is delightful to see that you targeted pre-assessment as something to implement in your class this year. Your gifted students will especially appreciate this action.
Three things that have stuck with me in reading this book and I plan on implementing them this year. The first thing is the pre-assessment. I have always done this, but I got some great ideas about checking for prior knowledge. I love the idea of the poster board and children placing dots near their area of knowledge. I think this is a great way to do a pre-assessment in a very low key way without stress to my children. I also love the Learning Contract Agreements. I have already been playing with some of the suggestions and I think they will work well in my classroom. Finally, I plan on doing the differentiated homework assignments. I have already talked to my team and they are willing to try this idea. Homework is such a challenge in second grade, but I really like this idea as presented in the book and feel comfortable in pursuing this.
My favorite part of Differentiation in Practice is the introduction as I found many statements to be profound and validating. A couple of quotes that struck me, “…teachers proactively engage learners where they are…” [p. X] and “Differentiated instruction is really just common sense.” [p. 1]. These two statements are precisely how I feel about teaching kids. It really is common sense. If you put aside all the other ‘stuff’ that goes along with life in the classroom and focus on kids and what they need it really is just common sense. Carol Ann Tomlinson also says that “[teachers] must balance two factors in [the] classroom: the needs of [the] students and the requirements of the curriculum.” [p. 3] It is a delicate balancing act, but that’s what I am taking away from our readings and plan to attempt to implement. I also really like the ‘Hallmarks of a Differentiated Classroom’ and I plan to paraphrase them and keep them handy as I plan lessons. Kind of my own ‘Top 10 List’ of best practices!
There were many strategies used in the book that I really like. I think the one thing I would really like to implement in my lesson/classroom is providing choices in assignments. The other is able to really engage the students using the multiple-intelligence activities and leveled task. I think it will give the students ownership of their own learning and allow every student to be successful. Though, the plant unit was my favorite I really loved the different group activities in all the units.
I am curious about the lesson components used in each unit. All the units seem to consist of each of these components:-intro/pre-assessment-leveled task-writing actviity-multiple intelligence choice activity-project product-partner and mixed readiness activities-closures-assessmentIt seems the authors purposely meant to use each component in every lesson. Its something to keep in mind while planning.
I will definately use pre-assessment this year as I said in an earlier post. I am following my group from last year up from 4 to 5 teaching Science. Pre-assessment will save us time and headaches. I am getting better at stations and small groups when it comes to science and I love the differenciated and free choice ideas presented with the units. Each lesson had an idea that I could incorporate into a station that would have structure yet free choice and extension with relatively little effort on the teacher's part besides providing the opportunity. And example would be I liked the tangram activity on page 121. I think it could be useful with other math manipulatives as well. Maybe color tiles and ask for the area or perimeter of the different sized shapes they make. They can extend the activity easily and it is independent or small group friendly.
I loved the literature circles in the last chapter. I am really excited to get that started when the school year begins because it gives my students choice, allows for group work, and gives them practice thinking about a book and creating good questions. I also liked that there were differentiated role cards for each role and that all students in the literature circles were responsible for their learning. The mini-workshops will also be a great thing to add to my class as students read. I really like the idea of giving students a lot of reading time in my classroom from the beginning and can see myself using and tweaking this model all year long.