Week 5 Reflection

My group made a Google Slides presentation for our assistive technology. We met after Monday’s Twitter session in our own hashtag group. A couple of us had an idea of what we would like to do, while others needed some more time. We decided to meet in Google Hangouts on Wednesday night to solidify our choices. On Wednesday, everyone knew what they wanted to research for their assistive technology. We decided that two of us would do three slides and two would complete two slides so we would have our group total of ten slides. I volunteered to complete three slides because I felt that other members of our group have done more in the past (setting up our meetings, building slides, Prezi, and emailing the group to organize us) and it was my turn to do a little more. My slides were Boardmaker, Screenreaders, and the iComm app. Heather chose to do Google Chrome and iPad. Gerald’s slides were the Orion talking/graphing calculator and Graphiti. Chelsea’s slides were Bookshare, Ginger Writing Software, and the Proloquo2go app. I have had experience with two of the three and it was fun seeing how some changes have been made since I last used them, especially in Boardmaker. Our group works extremely well together. Everyone has a voice and their opinion and ideas are valued. I feel like we came to decisions very easily and we each accepted our responsibility. I, personally, didn’t want to let my group members down, so I made sure I was prepared for our meetings by knowing what I wanted to do and offering to help. I definitely learned from the other members of my group and I learned about their interests during this group project. You can see our Google Slides at https://docs.google.com/a/alaska.edu/presentation/d/1GQhOWpzRBvtdMzQGOAPy7HrE7omUWHJsa_mvzcuh3Io/edit?usp=sharing



Week 4 Reflection

This week, our group set up a Prezi presentation. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a Prezi and I’ve never used it as an information page before. I really like the people in my group, everyone is very helpful. We started by making our own Twitter group, which made it super easy for us to meet and communicate. It was so easy to divide up the work and get started because no one wanted the same sections. We also talked on Google Hangouts. Everyone had their own section to work on and we all met on Thursday night and looked at each section and exchanged suggestions and ideas, so we knew what we needed to add or change before we published our Prezi on Saturday. I chose the section Environment and I had a lot of fun building my section. On a side note, I shared our Prezi with my 4th graders who are going to present information on a country they have been researching. I have a couple students who wanted to try it out for their presentation.



Week 3 Reflection

Let me start by saying that once again, I posted my blog to the wrong category. I was wondering why I wasn’t receiving any comments and I finally figured it out. Chelsea posted about Wonderful Wednesday’s on her blog and I shared that I had tried it out last year. I shared about how it worked until the District required all parent volunteers to get background checks done. I would love to try it again, so I’ll have to talk to my current administrator. I hope that others will try it out as well. On Josie’s blog, I posed the question about how we can differentiate standardized tests so that they are better suited to students who are not “standardized” learners. On Jule’s blog, I contributed to the discussion about being questioned by parents over using technology in the classroom. Overall, I feel the blogs this week were very insightful and I really enjoyed our Twitter chat.

How do we prepare parents for differentiation in the classroom?

I feel that I am pretty fortunate when it comes to differentiating in my classroom because I have good relationships with the parents of my students. I have met all the parents of my students and we communicate on a regular basis through Class Dojo, texting, face-to-face meetings, and emails. I agree with Crowe (2004) when she wrote, “The school-home connection is a two-way street. It’s just as important for me to know parents as it is for parents to know our classroom and my teaching approach. I teach in a large school in a busy community where it can be hard to establish tight connections with families.” I teach in one of many schools in Las Vegas. Many of the parents of my students do not speak English, so I have talked to a parent about teaching me Spanish.

One thing I would like my parents to know and understand is that “a differentiated lesson assigned by a teacher reflects the teacher’s current best understanding of what a child needs to grow in understanding and skill. That understanding is evolutionary and will change as the year goes on, as the child grows, and as parents contribute to the understanding” (Tomlinson, 2001). Like most teachers, I have students who are above grade level, at grade level, and below grade level in my classroom. My above grade level parents want to know how I am extending the learning of their child and my below grade level parents want to know how I am going to give their child the boost needed to get them to be at grade level. This is where explaining differentiation is key. I tell parents that “when learning tasks are consistently too hard, students become anxious and frustrated. When tasks are consistently too easy, boredom results. Both boredom and anxiety inhibit a student’s motivation to learn, and — eventually — harm achievement as well. Differentiated instruction helps teachers avoid student anxiety and boredom that can be evident in one-size-fits-all curriculum” (Foucault, 2008). I think that in the future, I will share the article by Edutopia (2012) with parents. I believe the “Ten Tips To Bring 21st Century Skills Home” would be something many parents are interested in, based on the conferences I had with parents. Many asked what they could do at home to help their child succeed in school. Many of the suggestions foster creativity and higher order thinking, which will help students in school as well.

I think one of the best ways to explain differentiation is to use the example by Stephens (2015) about a one size fits all shirt. Sure, it will fit people who are of average size, but it won’t fit people who are above or below average in size. She states, “Let’s say that I create a practice geared toward proficiency — maybe for students with a B. This practice might be useful for students with B’s or C’s. Clearly, this practice is too easy for students with an A and too difficult for students with a D. By assigning this “one size fits some” practice, I just ignored the needs of the advanced and struggling students” (Stephens, 2015). I think about this mindset and how frustrating it must be for both parents and students. I also believe that it takes a village to raise a child and I will do all that I can to help parents so that their child will be successful in school.


What’s So Good about Public Education in America?.
Retreived January 31, 2016, from Blogspot.com: http://whatssogoodaboutpubliceducation.blogspot.com/2014/03/teachers-and-parents-working-together.html


Crowe, C. (2004, November 01). Wonderful Wednesdays. Retrieved February 03, 2016, from Responsive Classroom: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/wonderful-wednesdays/

Edutopia.org. (2012). A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from Edutopia.org: http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf

Foucault, A.-M. (2008). Differentiation Tips for Parents. Retrieved February 03, 2016, from Reading Rockets: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents

Stephens, C. (2015, September 15). Levels of Understanding: Learning That Fits All. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/levels-of-understanding-learning-fits-all-charity-stephens

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Week 2 Reflection

I really enjoyed hosting the Twitter chat this week. I tried to think of questions that would help my classmates think of ways they already are differentiating or can use differentiation in their classrooms. I was hoping that they would find new ways and ideas to use differentiation. It was really fun for me and hopefully, they enjoyed it as well. I also wanted classmates who are new to Twitter to see how to host. On the blogs this week, I found the mind maps to be really well done. I connected to Jule’s blog this week because I am using some of the same teaching tools that she uses, like task cards and Kahoot. It makes sense since she and I are both elementary teachers. I love exchanging ideas with other teachers. I also connected to her struggle with always asking higher order thinking questions. It’s hard for me to come up with them on the spot. I liked the graphic Jim made with all the ways to group students. That was especially helpful to me as I’m trying to make groups for fluency and word work in my classroom. He also wrote about the importance of really knowing your students and thinking about their strengths, weaknesses, and interests when placing them in groups, which I am going to do as I place my students in groups. In Heather’s blog, I wrong about the importance of struggle and building resiliency in students at a young age. Both she and Gerald commented about how frustrating it is that their upper grades students want to give up without trying. I connected with Josie on her blog about the struggle I have teaching ELL students, since it isn’t something I have ever had to do before.

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?

differentiationI often write reflections of my day or lessons and I have found that is usually where I make decisions for my actions in my classroom. Reflection is a very important process for me. I usually find myself thinking about a specific student’s needs and how I can meet those needs. According to Minott (2009), reflection “is a ‘tool’ that enables teachers to develop the capacity to learn from their experiences. But more importantly, reflection improves their ability to effect purposeful change and integrate various aspects of teaching. This is critical to the DIP, for learning from, and developing one’s experience or knowing of what ‘works’, and being able to implement change and new ideas based on a reflective use of such practical knowledge is a requirement for the effective adaptation of content, process, product and environment to students’ interest, readiness and learning styles.”

I group students by levels for our reading instruction because the district requires all of fourth grade students to be grouped by their intervention tier for reading. However, I have my tables set up in small groups and I change the groupings around twice a quarter. I plan specific lessons that require students to work with their table group or shoulder partner. I also give them choice time a couple times a week, which allows them to pick their partner or partners. “Using a variety of grouping strategies allows you to match students and tasks when necessary, and to observe and assess students in a variety of groupings and task conditions” (Tomlinson, 2001).

There are a few areas that I feel need improvement. First, I need to allow students more time to make sense or process the information they are learning. “Process is how students make sense of the content. They need time to reflect and digest the learning activities before moving on to the next segment of a lesson” (McCarthy, 2014). I also need to work on giving fewer directives. I am very directive and I catch myself doing it and falling back into it often. It usually occurs when there is a behavior issue in my classroom. I have a student who pushes my patience like it was an Olympic event that he is training to compete. Alber (2015) writes, “Students mirror our energy. If we stay calm when teaching — giving instructions, addressing individuals or the whole class — it’s amazing to see that this, too, happens with them. Whether we want the responsibility or not, we are constantly modeling for the children we teach ways to be out in the world.”

I have seen the things I do get mirrored by students with their shoulder partners. Often, I hear my students use the same encouraging tone and words that I use in the classroom when working with a partner. My students love to help one another and they are very accepting of each other. I have worked hard to create a safe classroom environment and we have a class meeting each morning to celebrate successes and discuss concerns. I know that it is true that “students learn best when they feel safe, respected, involved, challenged, and supported. Thus, a learning environment that invites each student to be a full participant in the classroom—with full support for the journey—is a necessity for robust differentiated instruction” (Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010).


Alber, R. (2015, September 7). The Power of Keeping Your Cool. Retrieved January 28, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-keeping-cool-rebecca-alber

McCarthy, J. (2014, July 23). 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do. Retrieved January 26, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-ways-to-plan-john-mccarthy

Minott, M. (2009). The Role of Reflection in the Differentiated Instructional Process. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from College Quarterly: http://collegequarterly.ca/2009-vol12-num01-winter/minott.html

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Tomlinson, C. A., & Imbeau, M. B. (2010). Understanding Differentiation in Order to Lead: Aiming for Fidelity to a Model. Retrieved January 29, 2016, from ASCD, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108011/chapters/Understanding-Differentiation-in-Order-to-Lead@-Aiming-for-Fidelity-to-a-Model.aspx

Week 1 Reflection

I enjoyed reading the blogs and looking at the infographics of my classmates this week. I connected to both the road map graphics that Gerald and Mariah made. Both were very well done and contained information that I found related directly to my teaching. I asked Gerald for permission to print his infographic so I could display it by my desk to reference as I make lesson plans. Many blogs discussed how overwhelming differentiation can be and how they felt like they weren’t differentiating enough in their classrooms. I feel like all teachers feel like they should be doing more. I also think that teachers don’t realize all the ways that they differentiate. There is always more that we can do, but we need to remember to reflect on and celebrate what we do accomplish.