Monthly Archives: January 2015

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#diffimooc Week 3 Blog

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How do you make decisions about your own actions for students in a differentiated classroom? What is your criteria for intervention and/or for letting learning happen?

Much of my differentiated instruction in my classroom begins with pre and post assessments. I like to find out where my students are so that I am able to differentiate my instruction. Moon supports the fact that differentiated instruction should begin with “carefully constructed, purposely executed assessments”. Once I have done my pre- assessment, I make my decisions about instruction.

My criteria for intervention and/or letting learning happen depends on formal assessments and informal observations. My focus is generally on my lowest students. I need to try to find better ways to challenge and differentiate for my high students. I was reminded of the fact that assessment should not just be given as pre and post assessments but should always be ongoing (Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom, 2010). After doing the reading this week, I began to think of better ways to let learning happen and to differentiate in my classroom.

This year, I have a large class with many difficult students and a wide range of abilities. It has been difficult for differentiation to happen in my class because of the dynamics of the classroom. Differentiated instruction requires modification of instruction to address student needs (Smith & Throne, 2009). I need to move beyond the format of having direct instruction and whole group participation to providing better learning opportunities for my students (Tomlinson, 2001).

There are definitely some changes I plan to make in my class this year to allow more learning and intervention take place. The first step for me is changing the physical layout of my class back to cooperative groups or “learning centers or workstations” (Gibson). I changed this in the beginning of the year because of all the visiting that was taking place in the groups, now I want to try to turn that into learning opportunities between the students. This is my first step in making changes to for intervention and letting learning happen. There were some great ideas in the reading this week and I am open to more suggestions.

References:

Gibson, Vicki. “Differentiating Instruction: Making It Happen in Classrooms.”

Treasures. Print.

Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom. 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

<http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/MethodsofDifferentiationintheClassroom.aspx&gt;.

Moon, Tonya R. “The Role Of Assessment In Differentiation.” Theory Into

Practice: 226-33. Print.

Smith, Grace E., and Stephanie Throne. Differentiating Instruction with

Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or.: International

Society for Technology in Education, 2009. Print.

Tomlinson, Carol A. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability

Classrooms. 2nd ed. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Print.

#diffimooc Week 2 Reflection

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Minecraft was the theme this week, and it is something that I don’t know a whole lot about. I learned from other blogs this week. I was able to explore a comic strip and find some great resources that the same classmate posted. I enjoyed seeing the information in a comic strip format. Comic strips can be a great way to engage students with new information and for them to demonstrate their understanding of information.

I learned that a lot of classmates know about as much as me about Minecraft, which is very little. After finding this out, we were able to discuss how we can use students in our classrooms to teach us and other classmates. It is often difficult for educators to step out of the teacher role but it allows our students to deepen their understanding by explaining and it makes them feel valuable when they are able to share their knowledge.

I was able to share some information in my blog with classmates. One part of differentiation that I mentioned was the creative side of Minecraft. I was able to share this with others who may not have thought about creativity being differentiation. Minecraft is allowing students to create at their own pace and level and for them to be the decision makers. Some very interesting and informative conversations happened for me this week.

#diffimooc Week 2 Blog: How can we use Minecraft to differentiate instruction?

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Minecraft is a tool that can be used in various ways in the classroom. Before doing research this week and learning about Minecraft, I have to admit that I have very negative feeling toward it. The students in my class are constantly talking about it, writing about it, and creating “creepers” with blocks and tiles. I was really tired of being surrounded by it from my students. After reading about it and learning some of the educational benefits associated with the game, it is beginning to grow on me. It took some time and thought to find ways to use it to differentiate instruction.

This week I focused on researching how Minecraft can be used in the classroom. There are several websites that I found and resources that were shared that focused on using Minecraft in the classroom. Minecraft can be justified in the classroom because it meets CCSS in areas of reading, writing, math, listening and speaking, and the list goes on (Teaching with Minecraft). There educational benefits to using Mincraft in the classroom, which I was not fully aware of. Minecraft is already a game that kids enjoy so why not find a way to use it in the classroom (Introducing Minecraft Hosting Beta).

Minecraft can be used to differentiate because it is another way to reach students with different learning styles. It is both creative and collaborative in nature (Is Minecraft the Ultimate Teaching Tool, 2013). Students have the opportunity to work on common goals and communicate in a different way about them. Nothing happens in the game without their decisions so differentiation can happen because students create at their own pace and their own level (Murray). Students are forced to think and make decisions on their own and can work at their own level and pace. Games in education can motivate students and trigger different parts of the brain (Drakkart, 2014). The differentiation is happening within the game because of the nature of the game, some with do the minimum for whatever you assign within the game and others will go above and beyond.

Students are all at different levels when it comes to Mincraft so the experts can help the other students, this will deepen their understanding. Students can be used as a resource when you are teaching gaming in the classroom (McCarthy, 2015). Many students already play Minecraft so we can use them to help teach us as well as teach other students. One of the ideas behind differentiation is the belief that students learn in different ways and that we base our instruction on their abilities and interests (Smith & Throne, 2009). Minecraft is engaging for most students and in my class; there is a high interest in it. I don’t know if I will use it in my classroom this year but it is an interesting tool that students enjoy.

References:

Fascination Minecraft Drakkarts Gamifi-ED Panel Trailer. 2014. Film.

“Introducing MinecraftEdu Hosting Beta.” MinecraftEdu. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

<http://minecraftedu.com/&gt;.

Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios. PBS

Idea Channel, 2013. Film.

McCarthy, John. “Students Matter: 3 Steps for Effective Differentiated Instruction.”

Edutopia. 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/3-

steps-effective-differentiated-instruction-john-mccarthy>.

Murray, Jacqui. “Minecraft in the Classroom Teaches Reading and More.” TeachHUB.

Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <http://www.teachhub.com/minecraft-classroom-teaches-r

reading-writing-problem-solving>.

Smith, Grace E., and Stephanie Throne. Differentiating Instruction with

Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or.: International

Society for Technology in Education, 2009. Print.

“Teaching with MinecraftEdu.” – MinecraftEdu Wiki. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

<http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Teaching_with_MinecraftEdu&gt;.

#diffimooc Week 1 Reflection

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I commented on classmates’ blogs this week and learned from their blogs but I was able to share some information with them. This week has really gotten me thinking about differentiating in my own classroom. I have started trying to wrap my head around what differentiation in my classroom would look like after this week. Reading articles and other blogs has given me some good information to get started with differentiation in my class.

One of the websites that I learned about was called Reading Rockets where you can differentiate your reading in your classroom. It has many different literacy resources. You can find resources for vocabulary, spelling, phonics, fluency, and much more.   One of the most useful things that I found were the lists of apps you can get. I have Ipads in my classroom and I am always looking for ways to utilize them.

Posting and reading various blogs has made me reflect on how my classroom is organized and how activities are run. One of the blogs I read really got me thinking about how I can use flexible grouping in my math groups. Another got me thinking about how I can hand over more responsibility and ownership to my students for their learning.

Classmates commented on my blog and shared some valuable information. I learned about Socrative from one classmate, and I am very interested in checking this program out. I was also able to interact with classmates about how technology engages students more. Also, some of the comments on my blog made me think that I just need to trust my students more with the technology and give them some freedom to explore.

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Untitled Infographic

This was my first time creating an info graphic, I chose to represent the nine categories of instructional strategies that are most likely to help students learn from “Differentiating Instruction with Technology in K-5 Classrooms”

#diffimooc Week 1 Blog: What is differentiation?

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Differentiation is teaching students based on their abilities and interests. It is “based on the belief that student learn in many different ways” (Smith & Throne, 2009). One of our jobs as teachers is to try to meet the learning needs of all of our students. When teachers use differentiation they are taking full advantage of every student’s ability to learn (Subban, 2006). We are working to meet every student’s learning potential.

One of the main ideas behind differentiation is to use flexible grouping (Tomlinson, 2001). The previous model of grouping students was not with flexible grouping. With flexible grouping students can move around at their own pace. We use flexible reading groups and meet periodically about various students and move them around in groups. It works out very well for all of the students involved.
Technologies that provide flexible learning and self-pacing would be effective in differentiating instruction. Technology can provide immediate feedback on student performance (Smith & Throne, 2009). Rather than students waiting for a teacher to grade assessments, many programs provide immediate feedback on students’ performance. Technology can be used to support curriculum in the classroom.

Differentiation in the classroom is an important topic in education. The reading this week has been inspirational in getting me to start thinking about ways to differentiate in my classroom. The obstacles that I am dealing with are having a class of 24 students and having a very difficult class behavior wise. If I can find ways around these obstacles, I would like to use technology and other tools to differentiate my instruction more effectively.

References:
Smith, Grace E., and Stephanie Throne. Differentiating Instruction with
Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or.: International
Society for Technology in Education, 2009. Print.

Subban, Pearl. “Differentiated Instruction: A Research Basis.” International Education
Journal 7.7 (2006): 935-47. Print.

Tomlinson, Carol A. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability
Classrooms. 2nd ed. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Print.