Thursday, October 22, 2009

A (non) Rant

I am just feeling like I don't have anything to rant about. I am getting so excited that I am nearing the end of this semester. I can't wait to be in the classroom and start applying the things I am learning. Life is busy and hectic, and a lot of the time I feel stressed, but regardless I feel like my life is just going great right now. I have an amazing husband, great friends, the Holidays are just around the corner, I get a break from School, and I get to start Christmas Shopping! I just can't see how life gets much better than this!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This book has some great ideas that I could easily see myself implementing in the classroom. It has still been a challenge for me to identify ways to differentiate lessons. I understand the concept and the importance of it, I think I just need additional practice in differentiating lessons and it will become easier for me over time.

One activity I liked in the book was the conversational round table. I thought it was a great extension activity for literature we are currently reading in our classroom. This activity would be an easy one to differentiate in a couple of different ways. The first way I would differentiate it is to give different groups of students more or less areas to expand upon depending on their abilities. I also could differentiate that activity by giving students different levels of thinking or expanding. One group could analyze the characters, one could analyze the themes, and another could analyze the different aspects of the voice of the writer.

I also liked the evaluation checklist on 'when you work with peers.' This would be a great checklist especially for older students to determine their feelings about working with groups. I think this is a great resource for me as a teacher to gather information about my students in order to make differentiating lessons. I would also be able to change up the different kinds of group activities I can do in my classroom that the students would enjoy.

While I have been in the program I have learned about using a RAFT activity in my classroom. I have always liked the idea of the RAFT activity, but I love the suggestions the book gave about the RAFT activity. I love that is points out that the RAFT activity is easily adapted for students readiness, interest, and learning profile. This is an activity that could easily be differentiated while also giving each student a worthwhile activity.

This book is a great resource for my future classroom. There were so many activity ideas, rubrics and inventories that I could easily use in my classroom. I feel like with the help of this book I am more confident in my abilities to be a differentiating teacher.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I really enjoyed this chapter and felt like it brought everything "together" for me. I especially liked the list they provided about what effective teachers do in their classroom to become effective. An effective teacher is a teacher who differentiates. How can I be effective in my teaching if I am not reaching every single one my students? I loved the quote in the book that said, "Virtually all learners benefit when they learn in places with high instructional ceilings and lots of ways to climb to the top." This is a principle of differentiation. We need to make a way up and never a way out for our students, have high expectations, and be flexible! I love that it mentioned there are numerous ways to climb to the top. I know it will be a challenge but I need to allow my students the flexibility to learn the way that they learn best. If I allow them that freedom my students will learn more quickly and effectively, and I will become a better teacher.

The book talked about showing each learner how learning has meaning in his or her life and how that life takes on new meaning as it grows in the power of learning. It is so important to engage my students and there is no better way than teaching them how the things that we are learning really are applicable in their own lives. If students can see that relationship their motivation will increase which allows them to reach and even surpass that "high ceiling" within our own classroom.

In the book it talked about how effective teaching is responsive teaching by creating ties with each child. I love that is said effective teaching is responsive teaching. If what we are doing isn't working or reaching students we need to respond to that and teach in a way students can connect with. We can only achieve responsive teaching when we "let loose" and be willing to do something we aren't 100% confident or comfortable doing. I need to be willing to take risks as a teacher, and if I fall flat on my face, pick myself up and try something new. I know that when I am passionate about my students and teaching them I will be able to teach in a responsive way. In the book it said, "The more willing we are to take the risks, the better the lives of our students are likely to become, the greater the fulfillment we are likely to feel at the end of the day." I know that is true and will strive to teach that way in my own classroom.

"We simply have to decide the shape we want our teaching careers to take, and begin moving in that direction." It seems so simple, but it is quite the daunting task. I think I'm up for the challenge! :)