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Differentiating Instruction (EdSS 200)

Hello world!

Posted: October 26th, 2010 by Charles Rathbone

Welcome to UVM Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Email Addresses

Posted: August 3rd, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

Hi Everyone: Here are our email addresses as I have them. If you have a better address or a second address you’d like to add, just email me. Best wishes, Charlie

tholland@uvm.edu (Tara)

Cee1101@aol.com (Christie)

dnapolit@uvm.edu (Dante)

dbaroody@uvm.edu (David)

llewis@uvm.edu (Laura)

maritodd1@silicondairy.net (Todd)

D6-Confusing Discussion and Discouragement.

Posted: July 26th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

I felt poorly after the intelligence/style discussion. When I’d read it, the distinctions were so clear. After talking, the distinctions were not so clear. Ahhh, the benefits of dialogue and how it moves one into one’s ZPD. I’d like to just keep the warning out there that learning style and the intelligences, multiple or otherwise, are not the same. Styles cut across intelligence(s), centers should be named after styles, not intelligence(s), and don’t worry too much about the details.

I also felt that the video, while providing a liquid example of how this all might work at its complex best, was also a source of discouragement to those of you just dipping your toes into teaching. Take heart. No one can possibly start off this way. My own advice might be to move to this more fluid and individualized way of thinking about teaching the first time when you are teaching a unit you all love. Kids will be pumped, you’ll have enthusiasm, you can differentiate all over the place by interest, and just remember to keep the group coming back together again and again to process and add to the group’s fund of knowledge. From individual to group and back again. Interdisciplinary units are a great practice venue for this more complex way of thinking about organization. Ch.

CI Overview

Posted: July 26th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

Major components of Complex Instruction cooperative learning strategies.ci_big_picture.jpg

KWL Discussion, Friday, 7/22/05

Posted: July 22nd, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

What we want to learn…

Reviewing the KWL Four Days

After It Was Done

Friday, July 22, 2005

1. Do expectations differ for students? Different expectations for different students? Should you take the challenge to the edge of someone’s strength?

•Expectations is tricky – equity vs. equality… . E. do differ for students? Yes. E. for everyone working at the edge does not differ. You differentiate so everyone CAN work at their edge.

•Keep confidence, not I’m so lost I’m giving up. Don’t go easy on those who struggle more. If you df, you have different expectations.

•I’m still confused what you do if you have the same assignment for all students – where do you go from there?

•Could be an assessment problem. The student doesn’t know what I’m assessing because s/he isn’t being assessed on what s/he is working on.

•Can’t differentiate all the time. It’s always a struggle for the teacher to decide when, how.

2. How to grade, keep track, defend ideas when others (colleagues) have different ideas?

•Haven’t done much with this, yet. Issue of equity here. What’s fair to some may be not fair to all. You shouldn’t have to compare your assessments with your colleagues because you may be teaching it in a different way. I don’t ever want to compare. If its working, its working.

•The ideas of when its not working, you know that something’s wrong, one kid is getting a 98 and another a 50, and is it okay to give different tests, whatever… that’s the time to talk to colleagues and seek advice.

3. How do you manage multiple things going on at the same time?


•Work cards.

•Activity and Resource cards.

•Group process roles.

•Strong student in each group – with proper “process” training (so they don’t take over).

4. What can I expect from myself about learning how to manage a classroom using DI ?

•Start really organized.

•Not expect too much even if you are an overachiever!

•Clear vision. Crawl, walk, run to a place.

•Use found materials. Ask for what you need from colleagues, kids, parents – cereal boxes, old milk cartons, soda bottles, cans, old paper boxes .

5. How can we develop collaborations across departments, administrators, other faculty?


•Beg, borrow, steal.

•The Dante solution.

6. What should the approach to parents be? Do we use an honest and real approach where we acknowledge difference and explain why we are doing DI? The mentioning of Harvard may not be the best reference to use ☺.

•Mention UVM. Just kidding.

•Honesty is a good idea. If parents believe you are really trying to meet their children’s needs, they will cut you some slack.

•Use the interest inventory with parents! Ask them to write a letter to you before school starts. Phone home when something positive happens – make it up!

•Talk to the Moms. Listen to C. on Monday.

•Gender Matters (Sachs.)

7. How can I realistically incorporate this into my immediate Fall2005 responsibilities?


•More laughter.


•The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a railroad train!

•We can be better observers, we know more about what to look for, that works.

•Zone of Proximal Development. We’ve gotten more in the zone as the week as gone on. Lev. V. Good to go in and out. You’ve had excellent scaffolding! (Smile.)

8. How do you manage honesty in the classroom in terms of being direct with students about their differences, both with what I say and what I do? How do I explain why we aren’t all doing the same thing and why that’s a good thing? Should I even be revealing this?

•Tomlinson had something to say about this. P40. Everyone walks, not everyone first walked on 10/3/88. [This can become a default cause of kids falling behind incredibly. You still have to keep an eye on how the learning is going. One of the benefits of standardized inquiries – individual and group data.]

•You don’t always get what you want. MJ

•You have to work for it. TT

•I control the revelation of information. I don’t reveal all my cards. Harry Potter story.

9. How does a collaborative model fit a differentiated model?

10. Should you do DI all the time? When does it work best for what purposes? If not all the time, then when, and why if only infrequently?


•When you want kids to be on their edge.

•When you think there is a need.

11. Is shallow knowledge necessarily bad? What if a person’s knowledge of my “something” is shallow because their life is culturally different? Their “something” is different.

•No, sk is not bad.

•It’s experience. And it’s a first step.

•Find culturally relevant – local knowledge – information is really good to do.

•Remember the connection here with “inflexible knowing.” First step on a path… .

•Find something that all know something about. Dante’s super hard core Darth Vader guy. Paper on Star Wars and Imperialism. (Does he want to go into politics??? Karl Rove???)

No Tears Over Tiers

Posted: July 20th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

Hi — I’m not sure about the rest of you but I thought the discussion about Tiering was very fruitful today. The idea of having some kind of framework through which to engineer the complexity of the various levels is more important than having a specific framework in mind. Over the course of a career, I think everyone acquires what the researchers call “heuristics,” personal ways of stucturing in this case, complexity. Our discussions were engaging and lively, I thought. I also appreciate the honesty with which we are revealing the King’s clothes of DI ! Ch.

Tiered Lesson – Good site for plans.

Posted: July 19th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

Good example of how a lesson can “tiered,” a DI strategy that focuses on increasing the sophistication of content without losing its central meaning. Useful for learners of various abilities.

Lesson Plan from Tuesday’s Class

Posted: July 19th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone



Lesson Plan Format

Teacher: C. Rathbone

Context: Spontaneous class activity given discussion on planning DI.

Topic: Planning DI Curriculum

Age/Grade: College, Graduate Course

Time: 11:10am Class #2.


What are goals for myself and my teaching?

To take the mystique out of planning DI.

To use the group as both subject and object in a DI lesson plan.

To demonstrate how a lesson might come together in a real planning sequence.

To see the relationship between lesson objective and essential idea.

Learning Objective(s):

What do you want students to know, understand and be able to do as a result?

I want the students to know several dimensions of curriculum planning by being able to define in writing the meaning of content, process, and product in curriculum planning.

What attitudes and dispositions will result?

Students will feel better about how to plan DI.

Students with no classroom teaching experience will be less daunted or freaked out by the prospect of having to plan a sequence of DI lessons.

Students with classroom experience will derive some measure of comfort that what they are doing is the right thing to do.

Assessment of stated objectives:

How will you tell whether students know and can do what your objectives state?

Students will complete a constructed response assessment using correct definitions of terms.


These standards and their criteria correspond to the learning objectives you have for your students.

Resources: (e.g. Print, Visual, Software, Other)

Overhead projector, overheads.

Teaching-Learning Procedures:

•How will you start the lesson? (Consider set-up, motivation, establishing a frame of reference, getting students’ attention, etc.)

1. Tell them I’m making a shift in plans based on our discussion of the KWL. Try to excite them with my incredible flexibility! Tell them we’ll use ourselves as both the subject and object of this design work.

2. Write and explain this essential idea on the board:

Human beings learn better when teaching and learning is tailored to their individual needs, interests, and abilities.

3. Write and explain the specific objective for this task:

The purpose of this activity is for us (subjects) to plan several learning activities that are differentiated for us as the group of learners (objects). The objective of this lesson is that when concluded, each person be able to look at a curriculum unit and correctly identify by means of a short open-ended writing assignment, the process, product, and content dimensions of the curriculum unit.

•How will you plan the lesson to support and differentiate for students of multiple abilities, styles + interests?

1. I will move out of the chair of central focus more into the group so I am better perceived as working with them – facilitation.

2. I plan to use information we’ve already generated about ourselves as the basis to plan a lesson that demonstrates differentiation in its process so that they have a better understanding of curricular content, process, and product.

•What will you and the students do during the lesson?

1. Generate what we know about ourselves as learners using material from yesterday’s class: interest inventory, MI survey, observational information.

2. Have them begin to think about activities that might engage us, given what we know about ourselves, in the study of process, product, and content. List, discuss, and explain the possibilities as they come from the group. Generate several different activities.

3. Draw the ideas together, create a lesson flow from start to end. Use their suggestions.

•How will you conclude the lesson? (Consider summarizing, connecting to future lessons, assessment, etc.)

1. Show how what we generated was an example of differentiation. Tie our example back to both the big idea and the lesson objective. Do all this verbally.

•Describe any challenging classroom management issues that may occur.

1. Students might lose focus because the action is exclusively verbal.

2. Confusion for less experienced members of the group.

3. More experienced members might take over and run with the lesson exclusively.

4. Might be too abstract resulting in loss of interest or even discouragement on the part of some students.

Attach any teaching materials or resources you will need to teach the lesson.

Assessment Evidence:

•What evidence do you have of students’ learning?

1. Everyone participated. More silent member of the group right on task when queried.

2. Good tolerance for ambiguity during grouping and activity discussion – jigsaw or straight groupwork, how to demonstrate competence (form of product), etc… .

•What did the students say or do that indicated they met the objectives?

1. Generated a correct list of definitions on the overhead.

2. Nodded agreement relative to one questions about differentiating by process and product.

3. Requests for specific plans.

•What criteria did you use?

Verbal criteria.

Self-Assessment: (The questions you ask yourself, in this section, provide the outline for your lesson reflection.)

•Did you find the lesson valuable, how will you know, and what will be your evidence?

1. I thought the lesson grounded our more abstract discussions. Class was clearly engaged, questioning as we went along, offering lots of suggestions relative to planning, stopping the flow to ask very relevant questions, asking for help when needed, offering assistance when called for.

•What would you change to improve future lessons?

1. Write this out before hand.

2. Think through the assessment issues a little more carefully, especially that of learner profile.

3. Actually do the written assessment.

•Were your goals met? I think so. They know more about process, content, and product than before the lesson started.

•How will you examine the lesson from your students’ point of view?

See if they employ the terms correctly tomorrow when we look at an actual unit.

•How did you ensure that the lesson was equitable? Asked quieter students to jump in. But, the more experienced students may have been shortchanged. Have no way of knowing whether this was old hat to them or not.

•Did all students participate and were all students engaged? Mostly yes.

•Unexpected outcomes?

Panic revealed. This was a hard stretch for the students who have not taught. But their concern helped focus our next steps.

Gave the vets a chance to talk about the real world of teaching, the non-theoretical world of teaching.

Heard that last class had a negative cast to it that I had not perceived.

Have to teach lesson planning and provide examples of DI lessons.


•What objectives will come next?

Follow up with actual units…see if proper identifications can be made.

•What home or school assignment would you give?

1. Further reading.

2. See if activity is mentioned in comments (unobtrusive measure).

DI Websites

Posted: July 19th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

I’m listing two here. One from the National Geographic and one from a private company (I think). I think the NG plans are very high quality. Some are di in scope.

MI Assessment (and others)

Posted: July 18th, 2005 by Charles Rathbone

Canadian WorkForce Website containing several assessment tools to create a work preference profile.

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