Tag Archives: differentiation

high cognition; high participation




In the demands of a math class (or any class for that matter) I really want to push my students to work out new ideas. I wanted to draw them and release them with new ways to think about the world. I started with a worksheet and the steps to master the topic, but I had to make it worth my students’ time. I had a basic lesson plan that (for my field instructor) looked a little too by the book. I won’t lie, it was a pedestrian effort at first. I was tired, I had several other lessons to plan. I had a lot to plan. I had a lot of homework, but really, there’s no excuse.


So I went over the lesson plan again. And again. And again, again and again.


How could I get more students to participate, and have them actually have to use their noggins? Hand raising only goes so far. It has to be relevant to the lesson. Pair share (turn and talk) is better, but there isn’t as much accountability (until I have super teacher hearing). What to do?


This was a lesson on graphing on coordinates. In reality, as long as the students know the number line (or at least how to count), there isn’t much to graphing coordinates.


(x,y) (go over, go up) (run then fly) (etc, etc, etc)


I used the ActivBoard to get students up there working towards graphing points, then describing coordinates. I got most students up to participate, and held students accountable when they made mistakes (negatives were sometimes an issue). But I still wanted to get everyone up, but how?


I was thinking about the lesson all morning before the observation, and then it hit me. How do I get everyone participating? Make them the coordinate points! Make the room the graph. It would have the students apply their knowledge, superimpose it onto the room, and find their spots. It worked flawlessly. I could see (!) where everyone was in the classroom, literally. There couldn’t have been a better formative assessment. And then when there was a summative assessment on graphing a few days later, everyone got it.


(The launch for the lesson was pretty good too, it started with a talk about newton, dropping a baseball, students timing it, and putting those points on a graph and looking at its motion over time, cool stuff)

Tagged , , , , ,

inconsistently consecutive


The setup:

Teach four (4) lessons on four (4) consecutive days to four (4) different groups of students. The lesson plan is the “same” every time.

The reality:

The plans were different every time. The lessons were different every time. Most of this was done subconsciously. After two lessons I did rewrite the lesson plan to reflect on how my thinking had changed. But something else has been happening that I hadn’t noticed: I’m becoming a better teacher.


I have been frustrated as of late with the disconnect from learning about teaching and teaching. I feel like I have been drilling on how to play shortstop in baseball, and then I arrive to a basketball game. Sometimes I arrive to a baseball game, but I’m a relief pitcher. Sometimes I can play basketball just because I’m taller than everyone else (this is also true in teaching elementary school students). Then my cooperating teacher noticed something — improvement.


A recount:

I adapted a guided reading lesson from a new curriculum my cooperating teacher was auditing. I had to focus points, reading fluency and understanding of theme. I was originally going to put a lot more focus on the former (as my students understand concepts pretty quickly) but the exact opposite happened. I changed the lesson on the fly multiple times. I focused on theme, had the students play off each other, grab onto major points, hit fluency when needed and moved on.


Each lesson had a different group of students that I changed the lesson both in planning (context) and per situation (improvisation). I thought, since my co-teacher said I had done well the first time, the next time I would choke (sports metaphor). It didn’t happen, though during lessons I usually internally cringe when I think I could have phrased something differently. But then the students were saying some pretty amazing things. The more we discussed, the more students understood. Then the last lesson occurred.


The last group I had was quite diverse. The book we were reading was 15 pages. One student in the last group read the book in three minutes. Another took ten. Another took fifteen. The last took twenty five minutes to read. I ended up doing four indivualized mini lessons within the mini lesson (inception). I had to get up and redirect a student who was making flip books out of sticky notes. I got a student who rarely contributes to tell me what theme is, and found it (including citing evidence) in the book. When reflecting with my co-teacher, she praised me and redirected me (3:1, more on that later). For the future, I should have had the slow reader read on his own for about ten minutes before having the group join together. There were plenty of notes my co-teacher gave me, but this was the most praise I had received yet. Just feeling good about teaching.

Next week, work on discipline! I need to find a balance between anarchy and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.


Tagged , ,