Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Differentiation difficulties

Yesterday was the first day back from spring break. I really didn't want to go back to school. Not because I don't love my kids and my job but I just enjoyed my time off. But I couldn't complain too much. I only went to school a half day yesterday and then I was out today. I had doctor appointments. You'd think I could have made them the week of spring break. But the one I had today I made the appointment in February and today was the first day that they could get me in. My appointment yesterday was about my knee and I was a little disappointed in the results. I had surgery on my ACL in November. I actually tore the ACL and meniscus when I was a freshman in high school and didn't do anything about it then. So there's a lot of damage. I was hoping that this ACL surgery would fix my issues but it doesn't seem like it has. I'm still having some pain in one side of my knee. I have done really well with physical therapy and have full motion and flexibility with my knee. I've been trying to get back into exercising by walking and swimming. I love walking when the weather is nice. Well the doctor told me that I need to start wearing a brace whenever I'm going to be on my feet for a while and definitely when walking or hiking. He also said that I need to focus more on swimming, biking, and the elliptical instead of walking for exercising. I know it's not the end of the world and  it isn't that big of a deal. But I feel really discouraged. I'm worried that I'm going have to have more surgery and I have better things to do than that. I also have to continue with my physical therapy. I don't mind it because I love where I go to physical therapy at and I love the people there. But I think I'm the only one that has been there this long except the older people. So enough about my complaining. I have tried to keep an upbeat attitude about it all so I need to continue with that.
So onto something a little more educational and school related. Differentiation. I try to differentiate and I try to meet all my kids needs but it's hard. One of my weaknesses as a teacher and really is a person, is I get great ideas but it takes me a while to follow through on them. I started the school year out really wanting to differentiate my spelling program and now that there are 8 weeks left of school, I'm finally following through on this. The week before spring break, most of my kids did very poorly on their spelling test. I had 4 students who got 104. So this week, we're working on those words again and then my 4 that got a 100 are doing a different list. My problem is that it is hard to find words for these students that need more of a challenge. But it went well yesterday for those students to work on a different list of words. So hopefully, I can follow through with this these last few weeks.
One area that I do a good job with differentiation is homework. I send home 4 different levels of reading fluency homework and some weeks it's 5 different levels. I started out the year just doing one. But I have 2 students who are far and above ahead of everyone else in reading. So it has kind of just evolved and it works. This week my high average group are working on a readers' theater script. I'm excited to see how they do with it. These students are very dramatic and enjoy working with each other.
So my ongoing professional goal is to differentiate my instruction more. I also need to work on using my assistant better. So I watched a few videos on PD360 (that's this online professional development that our district subscribes too.) about differentiation and I got a couple of ideas. One of the major themes was giving students choice in how they completed an assignment and in what kind of group they worked in.
So I tried it out yesterday with our frog life cycle assignment. I made a few copies of the life cycle page from Kaci's All About Frogs unit and then gave the choice of doing this worksheet or making their own flip book. I was surprised how many of them wanted to create their own life cycle.
Overall I was satisfied with how this assignment turned out. I am definitely going to try to be more creative in how students present information. My next task to really tackle with differentiation is math. I would love to hear how you meet different students' needs and what ways you differentiate in your class.
It's back to school tomorrow and I'm looking forward to continuing our Oviparous animals unit. Tomorrow it's all about sea creatures.


  1. I had major knee surgery a couple years ago (they broke my leg and rebuilt my knee) so I feel your pain. I was in therapy for forever too and it seemed like everyone was getting better so much faster than me. I actually hated therapy because my surgery was so rare that the therapists had no idea what to do for me. Anyways, I hope your knee feels better soon. Hopefully, you can rest it during the summer. It's hard to be on your feet all day with little ones and have knee problems too. I am doing so much better this year than last so I hope the same goes for you.

    Swimming into Second

  2. Does that mean you have to wear your brace to work? I mean, we are all on our feet all day long. So sorry for your pain.
    Differentiation is a tough one to figure out... I work at an inclusive school so we have students of all abilities on our classrooms (typical, gifted and those with special needs)so differentiation is something we have to think constantly about. Our biggest lifesaver is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). With UDL, we don't have to work so hard and add too much work for ourselves but it does take some thinking ahead. My suggestion is to look up UDL. I am giving a presentation about UDL soon, I can give you more info when my presentation is complete =)
    I am having a classroom photos linky party, I hope you can join me!
    Kindergarten Schmindergarten