Okay, I’m doing a 2 Part Blog Post today…
Part 1: Finished my First Summer Read
Don’t you just love it when you devote your time to something and it pays off? Me too!
I just finished my first summer read “Differentiated Instruction in the Whole-Group Setting
” about a week ago. It was a quick read and had LOTS of great ideas that I really do hope to incorporate into my room in some way next year. Of course, I can’t simply give you everything from the book. The author, Betty Hollas, would probably not be too happy with me. That being said, I’d like to share with you my THREE “take-aways” from this book.
Lot of great ideas in this book!
When I read a professional book, I use lots of post-its (if I don’t own the book) and I try to narrow the information down to just 3 things that I could try to incorporate into my teaching – whether that be points of reflection, specific ideas or teaching strategies. From those three, I choose ONE to start with. The way I figure it, it’s like a cook book. Even if I just get one good recipe out of it – I’m happy. If I get one idea that I actually use, that works well for my students and that makes my classroom a better place to be – well then it was worth it! Then, I can move on to number two on my list.
This book would be excellent for a teacher who’s just starting out. There were lots of ideas in there that I already use in my room (which was sort of a pat on the back, actually) and many others that I’ve heard of, but that I just haven’t gotten around to incorporating. Some of my favorites (that I already use) from the book are: Anticipation Guides, “I Have, Who Has” and Exit Slips. Betty has included descriptions and reproducibles to go with these, and so many other strategies in the book.
So, what am I going to focus on from this book, you ask? What were my Ah-ha! moments? It was hard to narrow it down to three – but here we go!
1) I have recognized that I am still not using Bloom’s Taxonomy the way I would like. I use it. I try to use it properly and encourage higher level thinking. I need to try a bit harder! So, my first goal is to really focus on getting my students up to those higher levels of thinking, and try to spend less time in the Knowledge/Comprehension arena.
2) I plan to use more menus and cubing to help me with differentiation. I know that menus, especially, have been around for a while. Again – I do use them. I’d like to use them more! Actually, I hope to cheat a little and combine my #1 and #2 goals by creating menus using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide of sorts, where possible. Cubing – same thing! Whatever questions or tasks I put on the cubes, I plan to make sure that there is a good selection of higher level options.
3) Finally, this is not so much of a goal as a mantra for me. I’ve realized that small shifts in my room can have a huge impact on the lives and learning of my students. It won’t be possible to differentiate everything all of the time. But, if I keep doing what I’m doing now and add in some more of the “good stuff” that I’ve found in this resource, my classroom will begin to evolve into what I what I truly want it to be. That is, a place where I am able to reach all learners, build on their strengths and address their weaknesses in a way that they learn most effectively. Some day. I’m only a few years into my career, really. I’m figuring out that everything doesn’t just “come” overnight. Knowing how to differentiate and actually being able to find the time to do it, are two different things. That’s why my “take-away” for #3 focuses on the idea of “baby steps”.
Once the year is underway, I’ll fill you in from time to time on my successes and struggles with differentiating for my students and I’ll be asking for your tricks too, of course! I’m excited to have put some goals down in writing and also to have shared them with all of you. I plan to put these goals in writing on my desk as a reminder, too. I know that all of this together, will really help me to be more focused next year!
Part 2: Flash Giveaway
I’m in the mood for trying new things and one of you will really benefit from this! This is my first Flash Giveaway! All you have to do is make a comment on this post and fill out your name and email in the Lessons From The Middle Flash Giveaway form
. You can comment about some aspect of differentiation, anything that I mentioned in this post, your own goals, your summer reading, your own struggles or successes in the classroom, a strategy that you use that you’d like to share, a question that maybe I, or someone else may be able to answer or comment on. I’ll use a random number generator to choose one winner tomorrow. The winner will have a choice of either my best seller: “Turn the First Days of School into PD For Students
“ OR my newest math resource “Rounding and Place Value Activities
Rounding and Place Value Activities
Turn the First Days of School into PD for Students
Good luck and I look forward to reading your comments!!!