Thursday, November 13, 2008

Teacher Spotlight

Mrs. Walters, fourth grade teacher at Cody is doing a wonderful job of differentiating in her classroom. What I admire most is her focus on pre-assessment. She finds out what students already know, then uses this data to plan her unit. This is the key to differentiated instruction! For example, she recently pre-tested her students on graphing skills. Amazingly, all of her students achieved proficient or advanced. Just think of all the time that would have been wasted and how bored her students would have been if she hadn't pre-assessed and continued teaching the unit in the usual way!! Now her students are being challenged in new and exciting ways. She is extending their learning by teaching them about percentages. Students are also being asked to apply what they know by doing projects with real world connections. Mrs. Walters plans to use this graphing site with her students. Be sure to bookmark it and use it with your students. Thanks, Mrs. Walters for sharing it and for being our Differentiated Teacher of the Month!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

License to Learn!

HAL students have a license to learn this week! Using the link students made their own personalized license plates. I asked them to create one that would tell others about them. Here is one I created:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One of the best resources I've found this year is Differentiated Assignments: Helping Students Show What They Know, by Patricia Pavelka (Husky Trail Press). The book gives specific ideas to use when giving assignments to your students. Instead of planning 3-4 different assignments for the different levels in your classroom, you are planning one assignment that can be completed by all in a variety of different ways.
Instead of using workbook pages, author Pavelka suggests using magazine pictures for tasks. Magazine pictures involve choice, are motivating, and requires students to use higher level thinking. For example, when working on nouns, students choose a photograph and list all the nouns they see in the picture, or nouns their picture brings to mind.

I used calendar and magazine pictures, but you could also use pictures off the internet. Here is a site that might be good.

Silly NIllies and Dr. Dooriddles

This is a picture I use when I am introducing Silly Nillies to students. Silly Nillies are two-word definitions for phrases. The words must rhyme and have the same number of syllables. My clue is "an overweight feline." Students eagerly respond, "fat cat!" Thy just love to solve these! After practicing a few more, I ask students to create their own.

Dr. DooRiddles is a fun way to develop students' fluency and flexibility with word meaning and associations as it improves their spelling, vocabulary, reading and problem solving skills. Students carefully read through clues in each riddle, analyzing connections within and between clues to figure out what is being described. There are books appropriate for every grade level. Here is an example:

My stream is the one that
Conformers stay in
The hair on a lion that is
Not on his chin
What am I?

These activites can be done whole class, small group, or individually. They make great anchor activities as well.