Archive for the ‘Differentiated Instruction’ Tag
Filed under: History Labs, Strategies, Uncategorized | Tags: Differentiated Instruction, social studies teaching strategy, teaching strategy
It was a great name – “history labs” conjured images of archaeologists carefully cleaning, carbon dating, and cataloging artifacts. Carefully translating ancient languages. Meaningful, authentic history work.
I was intrigued and wrote him about it. What, I asked, is a history lab? He replied – anything that isn’t notes or a worksheet. Marketing is everything, he said. I have to agree!
“History Lab” had a much better ring than “art project”, simulation, role-play, analyzing primary sources – and it was all-inclusive as well. I could say “history lab” to my students and they knew to expect something fun and out of the box.
This is a picture of cuneiform writing from a history lab.
For me, a history lab was generally a stations activity. I would come up with 3-4 activities that I wanted my students to rotate through. I tried to make at least two of the stations hands on – either technology (interactive whiteboard) or arty. Occasionally, we would all do the same activity – building a roman arch, or making Byzantine inspired mosaics. Sometimes it would be a simulation or a role-playing activity. In a perfect world, a lab only takes one day. Sometimes the simulations would run two days, but I really don’t like to go longer than that. Shorter means I can do them more often. Shorter means I can take a risk on an activity that may be iffy – I’m only committing one day, and student input could be valuable in making it a more solid activity.
I would always let my students know when I had a lab coming up. It allowed us to look forward to it, and sometimes provided more motivation to get through the “meat”. On the lab day, I had them line up outside my room and I put them into groups. Sometimes I had established groups written out on the overhead, sometimes I just counted them off.
I had really big classes last year, and like my groups to be about 3/4 students. Instead of creating more activities, I created more places to do the activities. Two of each station if there were going to be three for example. This was also perfect if I needed to differentiate reading materials or activities. In that case I would definately have groups pre-assigned.
I would set a timer for 12-15 minutes depending, and when the timer went off, groups would rotate as I had directed.
Ways I’ve assessed:
- Sometimes they are completely experiential, with a writing assignment at the end. It can be a simple – what did you learn today or as complex as you want to make it. This is actually a great “cool down” before switching classes.
- Sometimes I make up a handout which explains the lab and what students are to accomplish at each station – these usually have a question/reflection for each station.
- Sometimes they explore a topic we took notes on already, then we have the lab, then students complete a right-hand assignment in their notebooks based on the notes and lab.
History Labs can be an easy way to differentiate – not every class needs to have the same stations, or if you are teaching multiple ability levels in one class you can vary the types of stations. You could even vary it to the student – telling John that he should complete the first two rotations, then come to you for the third station, as an example.
In Part II, I’ll give some examples of actual labs I’ve done and talk about sources for materials.
Filed under: Differentiated Instruction | Tags: choice boards, Differentiated Instruction, differentiation with menus, medieval europe, social studies
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I’ve taken the last few weeks while my students were in keyboarding to plan my first unit with a differentiated menu.
Here it is: Medieval Choice Projects
NOTE: Some instructions may seem “spotty” – that’s because students have a copy of the directions for each “type”of assignment already.
There were a few items I wanted to think through – daily accountability, “work as you go” capability, and integrating technology and still keeping the notebook as the student’s portfolio.
This is my current plan:
I will do direct instruction on Mondays and Wednesdays – students will have some lecture, plenty of visuals, some independent or group work, and review.
Tuesdays and Thursdays will be choice board days. There will be six of them during the unit, which should provide plenty of work time.
Fridays will be for quiz, catch up and review. (or an alternate project work day if a lesson needs more than one day to complete).
Since the students have six days and six options, they will need to complete one option per day.
I chose the game show menu from Laurie Westphal’s book, and I like it – it is sort of “Jeopardy” style, with categories at the top and project choices ranging in point values under each one.
Things I like about this menu style:
- It allowed me to have project choices for every indicator of my standards.
- Students must choose at least one assignment from each category, but they can focus their energy on the category that appeals most to them. (The goal is to earn 100 points)
The menu is going to go after the notes for the medieval unit, and projects will be completed in the notebook. I’ll have notebook sized white paper cut for the posters and sensory figures – models will have pictures taken of and glued in, etc.
It was pretty challenging pulling the project choices together, and as with anything else, I’m sure this will be a learning experience in the implementation.
I start this with my first class on Monday, I’ll update as I go.
Filed under: Interactive Notebooks | Tags: Differentiated Instruction, Interactive Notebooks, left hand assignments, notebooking, Posts with pictures, social studies, teaching strategy, teaching strategy for social studies
“Right is for Reflection”
This side of the notebook focuses on ways that students can process and be creative with the information that they learned on the left. The type of assignment is limited only by your imagination and the student’s creativity, yet they are based on the just learned content. Some teachers use the left side for these assignments, but I feel it makes more sense this way.
They can range from the simple – vocabulary activities, mind mapping. and illustrated outlines that focus more on organizing and illustrating facts . . .
to acrostics and other poetry, posters, and sensory figures that require students to go beyond the facts into interpretation . . .
The right side assignment gives a natural way for a teacher to offer choice to students and to differentiate instruction. The left side is the base content that everyone must know, the right side is process and product work, and that can be whatever the student needs it to be. I usually allocated 15-30 minutes of class time depending on the complexity of the assignment.
One of the paperwork issues I have with differentiation is how to record it and be fair. This way, I label my gradebook with page numbers, and so as long as everyone has a NB45, it really doesn’t matter to the book whether the students page 45 is an acrostic or a wanted poster or a mind map.