Thursday, February 27, 2014


According to Gail Bush in School Library Monthly (2006), "Differentiated instruction is a learner-centered instructional design model that acknowledges that students have individual learning styles, motivation, abilities, and, therefore, readiness to learn."

I know that differentiation is critical to effective teaching. However, I know that it is incredibly difficult to effectively differentiate in a classroom. I teach 4 classes every day. Each class has approximately 25 students who all have different learning styles.

One way that I have differentiated instruction in the past is to create MENU assessments. Here is an example of a MENU assessment that I have used in the past:

The Outsiders MENU assessment:

1 Point
·         Timeline of major events in novel
·         Create a 6 panel comic strip of the major events of the novel.
·         Describe each of the major characters using figurative language.
·         Create a movie poster that illustrates the three most important scenes in the novel.

2 Points
·         You know Johnny’s family. Write them a sympathy note expressing how you feel about what happened to Johnny.
·         Create a Facebook profile for one of the characters in The Outsiders. In addition to the profile, create a wall conversation with at least 10 comments that demonstrates your understanding of the character.
3 Points
·         You are Ponyboy and you are now a grandfather. Tell your story to your three grandchildren about what happened at the church.
·         In the novel, Soda is heartbroken when Sandy does not respond to his love letter (pg. 174). Imagine that you are either Soda or Sandy. Make an inference about their situation by either writing the letter from Soda’s point of view or responding to the letter from Sandy’s point of view.

4 Points
·         Graduation speech from Ponyboy’s perspective.
·         Advice column.
5 Points
·         The two opposing groups in The Outsiders are the Socials and the Greasers. Think of two opposing social groups today. Describe in a narrative one possible confrontation that may occur between the two groups. Be sure to include dialogue, descriptive details, and a well-structured sequence of events.
·         Write and perform a slam poem that raises awareness of gang violence in our society.

**Total points must add up to 20 in order to receive credit for this assignment.

This was a fun way to assess whether or not students understood the novel. Looking back, I wish I could have integrated the media center in this assignment. Students were able to write, create poetry, artwork, etc. There is a huge opportunity for them to use technology as well. Next year, maybe I will coordinate with the MC in order to effectively hit all learning styles and differentiate successfully.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taxonomy Reflection

This week in LIB 5070, we were asked to reflect on how our practice fits within a specific taxonomy that was discussed in our weekly reading.

The specific question that was asked of classroom teachers was: Where are you as a teacher and how could you take your resource-based teaching a step further?

First, I'd like to discuss what taxonomy #2 is, specifically. This is a "Teacher's Taxonomy of Resource-Based Teaching." It explains the different methods that teachers might use in their classroom to incorporate use of collection/resources. It gives information about self-contained teaching, private collection, borrowed collection, media staff, media resources, and curriculum development.

Currently, as a classroom teacher, I am somewhere between #4 and 5 in the taxonomy. There have been many instances where I have just used my media specialist as someone to bounce ideas off of, and there are other times where I have used Mrs. Brewer and the resources provided in the media center to better a specific lesson or unit.

For example, Mrs. Brewer and I will frequently discuss how I can use technology and specific books in my unit. I am currently teaching a unit on WW2 fiction and nonfiction, focusing on the techniques unique to each genre. We are then comparing print to video/audio. I have gotten resources from her that I can use with my students. I wouldn't have thought about using these materials without planning with her. 

My next step as a teacher would be to try harder to use my media specialist as more of a partner. I would love to sit down with Mrs. Brewer and analyze what my students need, develop objectives together, and figure out ways to present and evaluate curriculum together. I think this will be very neat to try during our "spiral review" at the end of the year where we begin to review all of the standards in the CCSS.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pooh-character Attributes & Teaching

This week in class, we did a personality assessment. 

I learned that I was both a Pooh and a Rabbit.

Here are some attributes of a Pooh (Harmony):
  • Caring
  • Sensitive
  • Nurturing
  • Harmonizing
  • Feeling-oriented
Here are some attributes of a Rabbit (Production):
  • Logical
  • Structured
  • Organized
  • Systematic
  • Thinking-oriented
I find that it's very interesting that I am both a Pooh and a Rabbit. This means that I somehow find the balance between thinking with my head and thinking with my heart.

We were asked to reflect on how we see our Pooh-character attributes come through in our teaching. In my classroom, my students are fully aware that I am very easily attached to them. Even if students are behavior-issues, chaotic, and restless, I am almost another mother-figure for them. I love all of my students. I want them to feel like my classroom is a safe-haven for them. I celebrate their accomplishments with them and I grieve their disappointments as if they were my own.

However, I am DEFINITELY a Rabbit as well. I am organized to the point of insanity. I have to have my classroom completely structured at all times. Free time drives me insane. I do not like it when students are unorganized and chaotic. It causes me to even lose my focus at times, which then upsets me, which keeps me off's a vicious cycle. I have systems in place for everything from turning in homework to lining up and walking down the hallway. When students do not follow these structures, I can get very cranky, to say the least.

I think that my two characters come together in the perfect way, though. Because I care deeply about my students, I work even harder to create lessons that my students will truly enjoy and learn from. Because I am an organized, structured teacher, students gain self-discipline and have an awareness of exactly what they can expect from my class each day. This helps them to become more organized themselves.

I can also see where my two characters can cause issues. Primarily, I have an issue with classroom management. This has improved over the last few years, but I care too much about "upsetting" my students or "hurting their feelings." I also can get more angry and upset than I should. I'm also a logical and rational person, though, and can quickly remind myself of the task that I have to accomplish. This helps me to go back to my lesson plan and begin again.

Overall, I am shocked at how accurate this test was. I can see why most teachers identify with Pooh, but I think being equally a Rabbit works to my advantage!