Saturday, June 25, 2005

Math instruction and differentiation

I was recently reading an article by Marilyn Burns on teaching for understanding in math. You can catch lots of useful articles and ideas on the Eisenshower National Clearinghouse site. Her emphasis on teaching for understanding instead of just memorizing skills and facts was reinforced by an example of learning stations found on pp. 62-65 of Carol Ann Tomlinson's book. The 4th grade example has stations that include:

Teacher Direct Instruction where the teacher gives min-lessons to small groups.

Proof Place where students use manipulatives and drawn examples to explain their answers.

Practice Plaza where students practice difficult concepts and reflect on their work.

The Shop where students apply math concepts to help Mr. Fuddle run his store or shop for items.

Project Place where students use math and connect it to a larger world that includes topics of high student interest.

There is a lot more detail provided in the book as to the specifics of organizing these stations. I'll just emphasize that these stations not only provide lots of opportunities for giving students work at their readiness level, but they present math problems in a variety of contexts which truly builds understading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

If a tree falls in the woods...

I'll be posting comments throughout the summer if for no other reason than to clarify my thinking as I take in new ideas about literacy. I'd love to hear from any of you who are reading this blog or reading something else of interest. If you find the comment section too daunting to overcome, simply send me an e-mail ( and I can post your comment from the e-mail. Or, if you don't want the comment posted, just let me know and I'll save it for my reading pleasure.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Spelling differentiation

Carol Ann Tomlinson provides an example of a 6th grade class differentiating a spelling activity (p. 52). Students are pretested and given words at the apropriate level. These color coded levels are then the basis for their work with spelling words. Students do a variety of excercises to learn the spelling words and are tested. Any words that are misspelled are added to the new list. In this way students are continually challenged at an appropriate level.

How does this compare with the spelling programs at your grade level? Is every student on the same page of lists? How do you account for individual differences in ability?