KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 6

Well friends, we’ve come to the last chapter in Differentiation in Practice by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson.

This chapter brings us back to English Language Arts and focuses on literature circles. To be more specific, it’s a unit designed to introduce students to literature circles.

As a new elementary teacher, I have of course heard of literature circles, but never actually used them. Thus, a unit to introduce them is perfect to introduce them both to my students as well as to myself!

One thing I quite like about literature circles is that they instill a sense of responsibility in students. They all know what their role is within the circle and if they do not complete it, they’re solely responsible.

Additionally, they allow students to work on communication and group work skills in a small group setting so that it’s not intimidating for students who suffer from anxiety or are shy.

This was a short chapter, but a good introduction to literature circles and a good jumping off point. It lists other helpful resources to aid teachers in implementing literature circles (Literature Circles by Daniels and Moving Forward with Literature Circles by Day, Spiegeleisen, McLellan, and Brown) which I know I will be checking out.

Alas friends, this has been our last chapter in Differentiation in Practice. If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. The next book I’ll be discussing is Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, be sure to check it out!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 5

Oh my goodness! How excited was I to finish chapter four in Differentiation in Practice, flip the page, and discover chapter five was another math unit?! It’s hard to tell when someone is being sarcastic on the Internet, so let me tell you I am being absolutely sincere.

As I mentioned in chapter four, math is my weakness when it comes to teaching, so any extra resources are always welcomed with open arms.

This chapter is titled “It’s All a Matter of Chance” and is all about probability.

Beginning the chapter, the unit creator (Laura C. Massey) discusses her approach to homework within the unit, which differentiates homework as well as gives homework according the students’ own interests. I like this approach because it allows the students to really enjoy their homework and because it’s something that’s easier to do in a stays and probability unit over, say, a unit on operations.

Overall, I found this chapter helpful. Indeed, with statistics and probability there are a lot more fun activities to do with the class to aid in teaching; this was helpful in proving ways to differentiate those games, activities, and lessons for various learners.

If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. We’ve only got one more chapter left, folks!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 4

Unit four in Differentiation in Practice by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson is a Math unit titled The World of Geometry.

I was very excited about reading this chapter as I find Math the biggest struggle for me to teach. I’m a trained high school English teacher so elementary math is still something I’m wrapping my head around.

This unit was very good for me because it offered a plethora of classroom activities which don’t involve students having to do boring worksheets, which I always like! If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. Happy reading!

I recommend this chapter to anyone out there who, like me, feels overwhelmed with teaching elementary math and making it fun and hands-on.

I also continue to recommend the book as a whole to teachers looking for more ways to differentiate their lessons and units for all of their students.

If you’re interested in the book, here is a link to it on Amazon. Happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 3

We’ve come to a Social Studies unit in Differentiation in Practice. The unit is titles We’re  All in It Together and is all about needs, wants, and community helpers.

I’m a fan of this particular unit because I find there are lessons which I can pull out and use, not just in Social Studies, but also in Religion and Health. Anytime I can add to units I already have is fine by me!

One thing I particularly like about this unit is that the lessons are all very creative and (I think) quite fun. The majority of students would really enjoy them and (as per the title of the book) they’re differentiated enough that all students would be able to succeed without frustration.

One lesson I particularly liked was a kinesthetic activity in which students get to role play and recognize the important roles that community members play in keeping it running smoothly.

Overall, this is a great chapter full of great lessons and resources. I’m still finding this a great book full of very helpful units and lessons. If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. Stay tuned for chapter four!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 2

Well friends, we’ve reached our second chapter in Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson’s Differentiation in Practice.

The first chapter led us through a Language Arts ABC book unit. This chapter focuses on Science and a unit titled What Plants Need. This is nice for me because my fourth grade curriculum has a final unit all about plant growth and changes. Additionally, I have a first unit all about waste, life cycles, and decomposers, etc.


Beginning this chapter, I was very excited as I find differentiating math and english more straightforward to differentiate as I can always create new centres to focus on students’ varying needs and skills. In social studies and science, I find this more difficult to do.

Much of the differentiation in this chapter has to do with kids working independently or in partners, depending on their varying ability, which I like because it’s easy to implement.

I also liked all of the individual lesson plan ideas as they were fun and hands-on, which I believe is exactly what science should be.


Another great thing I found from this chapter was having “anchor activities” for kids who have finished their work early. In my classroom, I have some students who finish very quickly and others who are much slower. It’s nice to have unit activities for them to do rather than just having them read a book or work in their “fun duo tangs”.

Overall, I found this chapter to be a very informative and helpful one. Differentiation in Science has been a struggle for me and I do believe this will help a great deal in my plant growth unit as well as other units which a lot of the strategies would work well in.

If you’re interested in the book, here’s the like to it on Amazon. Stay tuned for chapter three!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch.1

Hello everyone! We finished up Classrooms That Work a couple weeks back and I’ve been so sad without a book for book club! It’s left a bit of a void in my life, so I’ve picked a new one! It’s another from my school’s old library and I think it’s going to be a very helpful one for myself and a lot of other teachers as well.

And the book is … (drumroll, please) … Differentiation in Practice by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson.

The book in question
The book in question

Each chapter in the book focuses on a different unit plan which is differentiated to meet student needs. I like this, not just because I get a chance to read through and potentially implement a new unit, but because I can also pull out different tips and tricks to practice more differentiation in the lessons and units I’ve already planned.

Our first chapter in the book is titled “All About the ABCs: A Language Arts Unit on the Alphabet”. Indeed, it’s a good chapter to begin with as so many kids, whether they come from families who do not read with them, are English Language Learners, have learning disabilities, have cognitive delays, etc. need to receive differentiated instruction in English Language Arts.

Chapter one!
Chapter one!

I find the unit itself is geared toward division one students, so those thriving at a higher grade level could need further differentiation to make the unit more challenging and/or more interesting, but for me, where my students are technically in division two, but all are working in different areas within division one, it’s a great way to have the entire class working on the “same” unit at their own working level.

Further, this chapter discusses the use of learning centres, which I use daily in my classroom for both math and language arts. Indeed, it’s difficult to differentiate without the use of centres and I recommend them all the way through elementary (I know most teachers these days are doing centres into the alter years, but too often, many are stopping them by fourth and fifth grade).


The “teacher reflection” discusses ways in which she organized the centres so that students at different levels could still use the same materials indifferent ways. Obviously, I LOVE this because it cuts down teacher time/money in buying and/or making supplies for centres. We’re already pressed for time as it is, there’s no need to burden us further!

The unit itself is one I definitely would like to utilize in my own classroom. Indeed, it has students at various levels learning letter sounds, creating words, and writing sentences. Plus, they get to make and share their own book, which tends to be the most fun part of the writing process!


If you’re interested in the book, here is the link to it on Amazon! Stay tuned for chapter two!

KIAT Book Club: Classrooms That Work Ch. 11

Well folks, we’ve come to the last chapter in Classrooms That Work. This is a short chapter which talks about important things teachers should focus on outside of classroom instruction and set up. They speak of these as “things worth fighting for”, and indeed they are.


Integrating food programs for students is something spoken about (and something I, and every other teacher I know agree with) as being important to student success. Indeed, in the district I work for, most schools in low-income areas have a breakfast and/or lunch program in place, but many others are in need of this. Lots of students in more affluent areas often come to school without food and it’s something all schools need to address as proper nutrition is fundamental for student success as well as long-term health. Indeed, it’s not fair for teachers to have to purchase food for their students, we all want to ensure our kids are eating but everyone knows teachers aren’t rolling in cash either!

Additionally, I really recognized just how lucky I am to be teaching at the school I am with the people I do; many of the suggestions the book makes to better classrooms have already been integrated at my school.

Indeed, I do work in a specialized program so even in my district, we are one of the few with these benefits, but it is still nice to see that these things are being recognized as being beneficial for kids. For example, small class sizes are mentioned (this one is, of course, a no-brainer for anyone in or out of the education system, but requires a lot more government support).

Further, year-round schooling is discussed, and as someone who works at a year-round school, all I can say is IT IS THE BEST! We get a month off for sum mer instead of two, which is about all the time I really need. Then, we get extra time off throughout the year, which makes vacationing a lot easier (and a lot cheaper as we don’t need to go at peak times). Plus, the kids and staff have far fewer absences as they do not get run down as easily. Plus, kids do not as readily forget curriculum taught the previous year (three cheers for not having to spend the whole first month of school re-teaching math and language basics).

And with that, we’ve finished our last chapter of Classrooms That Work! If you’re interested in this book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. I haven’t decided what book I’ll read next, or if I’ll post about another one…. I’ll let you know!