If you are an elementary school teacher who loves to differentiate, I highly recommend “Not Just Child’s Play”. Written by a teacher of gifted Kindergarten students, the posts in this blog always inspire me to keep my expectations high with my own gifted students. This post, on Multiple Perspectives (one of Dr. Sandra Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity icons), reflects the amazing imagination and creativity we can find in even the youngest of our students.
10 Ways to Differentiate Learning
This post from Edna Sackson at “What Ed Said” succinctly advises on changes that can be made by the teacher to differentiate learning in the classroom. The hardest one for me, but the one that has made the most difference in my years of teaching, has been the first suggestion, “Let go.” I have to say, though, that I tried to pick the most vital advice out of the list of 10, and could not prioritize them. They are all important, in my estimation, for every classroom – even if you are homeschooling a class of one!
S.C.O.R.E. Cyberguides is a site that was produced by Schools of California Online Resources for Education. It is based on California’s Language Arts curriculum, and offers a multitude of literature units at levels from K-12. The units include teacher and student resources. They could be used as supplemental materials, or as jumping off points for Literature Circles or independent study assignments. There is a disclaimer on the site that lack of funding has resulted in some of the units being out of date (broken links, etc…). However, it appears that even those units are still available on the site under “Retired” sections. This is helpful as a teacher could scavenge them for curriculum ideas or website suggestions.
UPDATE 7/6/14: It looks like this link no longer works. If any of you find a link to these guides that does work, please let me know, as they are a valuable resource!
Khan Academy is a revolutionary approach to teaching which advocates “Flipping the Classroom”. You can view the TED video below to learn about the humble beginnings of the Academy on YouTube, and the ambitious plans Mr. Khan now has for his free service. Basically, the site has hundreds of video lessons indexed in which Mr. Khan explains a variety of topics – mostly math and science related. If you have a G-mail or Facebook account, you can become a Coach. Your students, who would also have to register with one of these e-mail addresses, can complete exercises on the site at their own pace. As the Coach, you can monitor their progress using several different tools included in the registration portion of the site. Even if you don’t want to register, this is a fabulous resource for allowing students to learn at their own pace, or even for reteaching and reviewing topics.
UPDATE 9/23/12: Class Dojo now has an app that allows you to easily access your classes to add and subtract points from your iOS mobile device. Click here for more info!
Class Dojo is a website that also has a mobile platform, meaning that you can access it from a classroom computer, laptop, smartphone, or any other device with Internet access. The purpose of this site is behavior management, and there are several features that would make this a great teacher tool. Once you receive the link (you need to enter your email in order to obtain a free account), you can then enter the names of your students. If you have multiple classes, you can enter each one separately. To increase the appeal to the students, you can even choose an avatar for each individual name. Then, you can type in the names of the targeted behaviors you would like to reward. There is also a column for negative behaviors.
Once you have everything set up, it is a simple matter to click the mouse or tap a screen every time a behavior is observed. The site keeps track of each student’s tally, and you can even print out a report of the class behavior or each student’s performance.
This is a great site for classroom management, making it easy to differentiate and to motivate a variety of students.
Stick Pick is an iPhone/iPad app with great potential as a teacher tool. The teacher can add one or more classes within the app. To each class, the teacher adds individual student names, determining the type and level of questioning to use for each student from the following categories: Bloom’s Taxonomy, Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, or ESL. Once all students are entered, their sticks appear in a cup from which the teacher can randomly or purposefully choose names. As each student is chosen, a list of question stems from their particular assigned level appears on the screen. This is a wonderful way for teachers to customize impromptu questions based on ability.