Each Friday, we have game club in my room before school. The kids can pick from games like chess, Othello, Battleship, etc. This past week, what did the group of boys decide to play? Candyland. They laughed and laughed as they played. It reminded me that they really are just big kids even though they are in middle school.
I can plan plan great lessons, but closure activities are something that I struggle with. This is a list that I will be using from now on.
Do you ever feel like this?
Differentiation has become one of the “dirty” words in many teachers’ minds. At times, it feels like a hoop we are required to jump through or something we put in our lesson plans in case an administrator looks at them. However, there are tweaks we can make to what we do to differentiate in meaningful ways. Take graphic organizers for example. Using them is second nature to us, and we use them without putting much thought into them, but they are easily differentiated to be more meaningful and effective.
Here are some straightforward and “easy” ways to differentiate graphic organizers.
|Gifted and High Achievers||On-Level Learners||Students Needing Support|
|Choice of Organizers||Students generate their own organizers that match the purpose and content being studied.||Students select from two or three teacher provided graphic organizers that match purpose and topic being studied.||Student completes the teacher provided the organizer that best matches the purpose and topic being studied.|
|Differentiating One Organizer for Three Levels||Teacher provides students a completed organizer that contains errors. Students work to find and correct errors; error analysis.||Students complete the provided blank organizer.||Students are given a partially completed organizer and are required to fill in missing pieces of information, and/or students are given word banks to select from in order to complete the organizer.|
|Differentiating Resources Needed to Complete Organizers||Students use a variety of resources to complete the organizer without specific guidance from the teacher.||Students are given specific resources to use in order to complete the organizer.||Students are provided specific resources to use as well as page numbers in order to complete the organizer.|
This could be helpful when making “great” a “dead” word.
On Fridays, we have started having Sentence Wars where students work together to create the most correctly written sentences using the focus skill of the week. In order for a sentence to “count,” it must be written correctly including punctuation. Winning students get to put their names on the door as recognition.
Once the students turn their sentences in, they continue using the focus skill in their writing journals. First, they find examples of the focus skill in previous journal entries or they edit a previous entry to include the focus skill. Then, they have time to write a new new entry or to continue the previous entry making sure to include examples of the focus skill. While they are writing, I have time to check their sentences to find the winning group. This last time, we had a group in one class that had 12 out of 15 correct sentences, but we had one group that had 11 sentences in total and all were correct. To celebrate the care that the second group took, members of both groups were able to put their names on the door.
To increase the challenge, I am going to start giving my advanced classes subjects and verbs that are more random. This will force them to write better sentences as they have to provide more context to their sentences.
Here are some creative ideas for wrapping up a lesson.
NPR gives great insight on why teachers quit. It isn’t all about the money.
This is a couple of years old, but it is still interesting; however, it is still right on.
Don’t know that it would work in all schools, but I would love it!