I Want to Get Better at… Differentiation

Summer 2018 I want to get better at...
Differentiation is one of those things that never seems like it can be 100% mastered. Once you have your differentiation strategies dialed in for a particular set of students… you get a new set of students! But with these new students comes a new opportunity to learn and refine your teaching approaches.

This summer, build up the differentiation strategies in your toolbox so you’ll be more equipped to meet the needs of your future students. Start with these ideas:

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I Am Going To The Getty Villa! An Ability Guidebook

Tchers Voice: Special Education

Every teacher knows the value of a field trip, and I love that David Cooper takes his students to the J. Paul Getty Villa every year. I have a deep love for museums, but the truth is, a museum can be a difficult place for students with special needs.

A lapse of control in the grocery store might end up breaking a jar or two and cost a few dollars. A lapse of control in the Getty Villa might put an ancient Greek Statue at risk.

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Setting the Tone for All Learners with Visual Cues

Tchers' Voice Special Education header

Inclusion practices have moved many students from special education rooms into mainstream classes, and as I’ve traveled the states as Oregon Teacher of the Year, I’ve heard one message loud and clear:

General education teachers need help adapting their classrooms and lessons for a wider range of skills.

We have classrooms with students reading at the Pre-K level sitting next to kids who read at the pre-college level.

Teachers need help.

These differences in ability are not just academic. Think of your own classrooms and the different behaviors and social skills you navigate each day. We have kids all over the place — so we teachers are going to be teaching all over the place.

Teaching Channel has invited me in to look at their amazing video lessons from inspiring teachers and imagine some adaptations that might help out your learners with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). This is not to critique their outstanding work, but rather a special education teacher thinking about what one of my students might need to succeed — in that classroom, and with that same lesson. I want to set the tone from blog one and let these amazing teachers know how much they inspire me.

And on that note, I can’t think of a better video lesson to start with than Nick Romagnolo’s Setting the Tone from Day One. Hats off to Nick, because had I seen this video as a student teacher, I would’ve had a much better start to my career!

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First Grade Findings: Adapting Lessons to Support Students

Every teacher knows that “within the overall patterns of development, each child’s trajectory is unique.” In a class of 30, they will each fall in a unique place somewhere on that developmental continuum. Some students come over-prepared, and some woefully under-prepared. However, their level of development shouldn’t prescribe the kind of instruction they receive. Students who are ‘behind’ need time and support to strengthen their phonics and phonemic awareness skills in fun and engaging ways.

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