Essential question: How do we prepare parents for differentiation in the classroom?
This week I felt like a lot of stuff related back to my week #1 infographic. It is really about painting a clear picture of what a differentiated classroom will look like, so students and parents feel comfortable with the idea. Based on this I created a game to really help others grasp what differentiated instruction is and is not. Foucault (2008) says "differentiated instruction helps teachers avoid student anxiety and boredom that can be evident in one-size-fits-all curriculum." She then goes on to list qualities of what differentiation is and is not. These are what I used for my game.
The hardest part for where I teach is communicating with parents about the work their kids are doing. I'm not sure many parents would understand what I am teaching so it is that much harder to explain my goals to them. Tomlinson (2001) mentions two other key factors that I am sure apply to the community I teach in. I know the parents of my students stay away because their treatment at school may have not been the best, and/or they don't speak english very well, so it is hard to communicate. She does mention sending home bulletins or newsletters and I wonder if this would be effective for the community I live in.
The other two assigned readings A Parent's Guide to 21st Century Learning and Wonderful Wednesdays, by Caltha Crowe, I did not really connect with. In A Parent's Guide to 21st Century Learning there are many good ideas but most are not practical for where I teach. I definitely agree that students need the 4 C's: collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. I just think it will look a lot different than the ways mentioned in the article. I think a lot of these skills would need to imbed the Yup'ik culture to be successful. Currently I am involved a program called PREPARES educators and I believe it will be a bridge in helping students to learn science while also allowing them to contemplate how this knowledge will help them give back to their community. In bush Alaska we just don't have the same resources as those connected by roads.
In Wonderful Wednesdays I really wasn't sure how I could include anything similar in my classroom. Crowe provided a great example for elementary, when a teacher has the same students most of the day and can have parents in at various times. In a high school classroom, where classes are only 55 minutes, it would be very hard to incorporate parent volunteers. For one, I just don't see parents coming in. I think reaching out to parents through a website, video, newsletter or something of a similar nature would be far more effective in connecting high school parents to the classroom. Many parents just would not feel comfortable with the higher content. They might stop in for a minute but they would be very leery about being an active part of our classroom.
After reading the required text I decided to see if I could find suggestions on how to start the process. The IRIS Center (2010) provided the following list of things teachers should be sure to explain:
Low Prep Differentiation:
High Prep Differentiation:
Now the focus is on what do I want to try next. Differentiation is exciting but it also makes my head spin a little. It forces me to be creative, which I love, but my mind just spins with ideas. So much to try and not enough hours in the day to make it all happen.
Brooks, D. (2010). Partners In Learning. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://performancepyramid.miamioh.edu/node/503
Crowe, C. (2004). Wonderful Wednesdays - Responsive Classroom. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/wonderful-wednesdays/
Foucault, A. (2008). Differentiation Tips for Parents. Retrieved from the St. Michael–Albertville Schools, Minnesota website http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents
A Parent's Guide to 21st Century Learning. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2001. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 1 February 2016.
The IRIS Center. (2010). Differentiated Instruction: Maximizing the Learning of All Students Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/di/cresource/q3/p09/