KIAT Book Club: The Differentiated Classroom Ch. 1

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted and I thought it only right to begin with a new book. I’ve just begun The Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson (I’m obsessed with differentiation and various ways to implement it).

The book is nice and skinny with ten short chapters, so I’m excited to dive in and be able to start using the strategies right away.

Chapter one begins with a brief introduction to differentiation and the fact that it may not have necessarily been called or considered “differentiation” in the past, but effective teachers have been using the strategies for years and years.

Tomlinson then goes on to compare different classrooms at various grade levels to effectively illustrate the glaring difference between a classroom where a teacher effectively differentiates class work and one that does not.

In my classroom, I do my best to differentiate absolutely everything in all subject areas. Of course, this is not always easy to do as it requires a huge initial time commitment to set everything up.

Thankfully, over time it becomes easier to create new assignments and tasks which are differentiated for every student.

I’m hopeful that this book will provide me with more ways to differentiate and ideas for implementation in my own classroom. If you’re interested in purchasing the book, here’s a link for it on Amazon.

Stay posted for chapter two!

Make Your Own Dinosaur!

I like to try my hardest to combine Art with what we’re learning about in other subjects. It can sometimes be challenging, and other times not so much. Either way, the kids love making art, so integrating it with other subjects can really help them to remember certain important points.

This time around was one of those “not so much” times. We’re in the midst of our fossil unit and my students are loving all things dinosaur related. So, I decided I would combine Art and Social Studies and have the kids create their own dinosaurs!

First, I had them do a fill-in-the-blank write-up which described their dinosaur.

Then, the kids sketched their creations and painted them. The end results were all really great! Especially considering how difficult it can be for kids to paint.

Now we have a brand new bulletin board! I love getting to look at a brand new, super cute bulletin board!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 7

The final chapter in Neurodiversity in the Classroom pulls the whole book together by discussing “The Strength-Based School” in which all students are fully integrated and fully involved.


The school used as an example throughout is the William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School, which sounds like a truly amazing school. Students with any sort of disability are integrated with “regular” students and allowed to shine.

Students are always expected to do their best, no matter their disability.

Indeed, there isn’t too much more to say pertaining to this chapter; its a very nice summary of the book as a whole and allows readers to think about putting everything into action.

Also nice is a comprehensive “Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist”, which would be fun to do with students in any school.

I hope you enjoyed reading Neurodiversity in the Classroom as much as I did, our next book will be The Truth About Testing.

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 6

Hello, friends! We’ve gotten to chapter six in Thomas Armstrong’s Neurodiversity in the Classroom. This one is about students with emotional and behavioural disorders.

This chapter was a challenge for me because there are just so many various emotional and behavioural disorders that to lump them all together in one small chapter is no small feat.


Indeed, Armstrong gives us as much information as he can in such a restrictive setting, but there’s still so much to read about and explore.

Mental illness is still a disability that is rarely talked about, despite having a huge amount of people (young and old) who suffer from various mental illnesses. That needs to stop. We need to talk more and we need to talk more openly about mental illnesses in and out of the classroom in order to shine a light on them and help those suffering in silence.


Because emotional and behavioural disorders are so difficult to identify, discuss, and (often) to treat, a staggering number of students drop out and those who do find employment find it difficult to hold onto a job.

I have worked with several students with behavioural disorders and I can say that one major thing I notice that helps above all others is positive human interaction, wether it’s with a teacher, administrator, aid, etc. Unfortunately, due to the vast amounts of emotional disorders and their various components, I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to speak to them, though my gut tells me that positive human interaction is probably just as helpful for those individuals.


As I mentioned previously, I felt that Armstrong did what he could in this chapter, but still only touched vey lightly on the vast world of emotional and behavioural disorders. Still, it was informative and helpful in a broad and general sense and I will definitely be able to pull out advice for my own use in the classroom.

If you’re interested in the book, here is a link to it on Amazon. We’re almost at the end, folks! Chapter seven is coming up, happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 5

Well hello again, friends! We’ve hit chapter five in Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, which is all about the strengths of students with intellectual disabilities.


I have had the pleasure of working with a few adults with Down syndrome through university and already know quite a bit about their strengths and other positive attributes. However, as far as teaching goes I am extremely inexperienced.

During my practicing, I had a student with Down syndrome in the class, but was unfortunately not given a chance to really cater to his educational needs as my mentor teacher had prepared all of his personalized lessons. However, he was fully in an integrated classroom and listened and participated in whole-class lectures before class work was assigned.

The most intriguing (and accurate) quote I found in this chapter stated that the largest obsticle faces by individuals with intellectual disabilities is that others place low expectations on them.

Indeed, if society continually tells someone they are unable to do something, chances are they’ll start to believe it themselves and may not even try. This frustrates me hugely as I believe all people should be given the opportunity to succeed and find their own happiness.


Further discussed is also how to best teach individuals with intellectual disabilities. I found this helpful as many of the tips relate to my students with learning disabilities as well, such as playing games and linking lessons to personal lives. It’s a fun way to teach curriculum, life skills, and communication.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. Stay tuned for our next chapter and happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 4

Hello again, friends. Chapter four in Neurodiversity in the Classroom is titled “The Gifts of Autism” and (go figure) discusses all the positive aspects of having students on the spectrum in your class and how to best teach them.


Indeed, students with autism tend to be difficult to work with simply because of their difficulty working with people, something most teachers (who are generally “people people”) struggle with.

This chapter is nice because, again it discusses successful role models who also have autism, as well as providing a lot of excellent strategies for working with students on the spectrum.


Working with assistive technology is particularly good for high-functioning autistic students because they prefer working with machines and technology to people.

Further, I also found the discussion of the best ways to engage with students with autism and increase their comfort level with human interaction to be particularly helpful.

Perhaps the most difficult thing teachers and aids face with students with autism is that they often cannot communicate what it is they want and need in the classroom. Thus, it’s our job to try to figure that out. Hopefully, with this chapter under my belt, I’ll find that easier to do in the future.

If you’re interested in Neurodiversity in the Classroom, here’s the link to it on Amazon.our next chapter is all about students with intellectual disabilities. Happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 3

Welcome back, friends! Today’s chapter in Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong is titled “The Joys of ADHD”.

Fellow teachers, I know the face you’re making because I made it too; what joys of ADHD?! I kid, I kid, but seriously, sometimes as teachers we really do just want to throw medication at the students running wildly amok while their classmates are sitting readily and patiently listening to our lessons.


The chapter starts with the story of a young student who assisted in preparing art lessons and ideas to a group of teachers in a non-classroom setting. He excelled and was a huge asset to those teachers and administrators he was assisting. However, in a traditional classroom setting, he ran wild and disrupted constantly, much to the teacher’s annoyance. The book says simply “in one setting he was a liability while in the other he was an asset”.

Indeed, teachers tend to be loving and kind people who see the best in all people, but we still have a difficult time adjusting our vision of what a classroom should look and sound like in order to best serve all kids.


We want our classrooms to be like the classrooms we remember, but we need to remember that the way in which we learned was not necessarily “right” and is not the way that everyone best learns.

My class usually is made up of about a quarter of students with ADHD, and about half of them are medicated. Why struggle constantly to reprimand these unmediated students for moving and speaking, when they can’t help doing so and we are not further enhancing their learning?

The chapter discusses many ways in which to enhance the learning of these students, notably finding assignments that they can relate to and allowing for a plethora of kinesthetic learning, which will not only serve to help students with ADHD succeed, but typical students as well.

If you are interested in the book, here is the link to it on Amazin for more information. I look forward to discussing chapter four with everyone!