Saturday, April 28, 2012

Differentiated Instruction

Wowzer!!! What a week!!! I had a substitute in my room 2 1/2 out of the 5 days - and I wasn't even sick. Monday, I had training on Differentiated Instruction presented by LeAnn Nickelsen (more on that in a sec.), Thursday I had a full day of 3rd grade staff development on the Common Core, and Friday morning, well I had to go watch the MOST precious preschool program in the whole world featuring my very own star 5 year old!

Okay, back to the part on the Differentiated Instruction. At one time I was so scared of the word "differentiated".
I didn't quite understand stand it. And it seemed so difficult and complicated. Then, along comes an opportunity for me to attend a workshop on the very subject, that at the thought or mention of, would make me cringe. So what do I do? I volunteer.

Well, it turned out to be one of the very best things I have done in my career! This workshop was presented by a fabulous lady, LeAnn Nickelsen. She is so enthusiastic and passionate. I was immediately drawn to her warmth and love of teaching! I came away from these two days with a wealth of information. Ideas and tips that weren't scary or complicated after all. I couldn't wait to get back into my classroom and begin implementing everything she had taught us. I jumped right in transforming my room and ways of teaching to include differentiation.

One item on my agenda, making sure I was meeting the different learning styles among my students. LeAnn calls this teaching the V-A-K (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) way. And she taught us that all three should be in "EVERY lesson, EVERY day." Now naturally I was (somewhat) doing this. But I wanted to have a way to keep myself in check. So, I changed the way I wrote my lesson plans. At the bottom of my lesson plans I have created a key.

A- Auditory V- Visual K- Kinesthetic P- Priming F- Formative Assessment S- Summative Assessment

And in each lesson plan, I code what I am doing for each learning style in that lesson. This system makes me pause and contemplate how I am going to meet the needs of diverse learners. This has transformed my idea of differentiated instruction. Just this simple idea of meeting three different learning styles in each lesson is one way of making a difference in someone's learning.

So... Monday, I had another day (day # 3) of training with LeAnn. I came away with even more knowledge than before and soon I will be implementing these into my classroom as well. This time we focused on anchor activities and tiered lessons. We were also told that in the fall LeAnn would be back for more training and support! Whoopee!!

The most exciting part of my week though - wait for it, wait for it!!!

LeAnn came to MY classroom on Wednesday for a visit. YEAH!! I was so excited to have her come in and see all the ways I was using differentiated instruction in my classroom. She was so sweet and complimentary. She loved my Homeworkopoly board (check out my previous post on it) and was going to google it when she got home. She also LOVED my stop sign exit ticket strategy and the I can statement sheet (also in previous posts). Needless to say, it was a very exciting, learning-filled week for me!