KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 2

Last post, I discussed the first chapter of Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong. The first chapter was essentially an introduction to what the book would be focusing upon, and chapter two is where we jump right in.

Chapter two is titled “The Multiple Talents of Students with Learning Disabilities”.  I will say that the title and length of this chapter initially threw me for a loop.

First of all, as someone who teaches students with learning disabilities, I am already aware they have a huge plethora of talents and abilities. I am also aware that there are a vast number of different learning disabilities and to write in one small chapter all of the various learning disabilities and all of the hundreds of thousands of talents these children possess seemed no easy feat.

However, I will say that this chapter was very good at broadly discussing learning disabilities, most notably dyslexia, as well as strategies to incorporate in the classroom to help these students to succeed.

Each chapter in the book discusses various things students with neurodiversities need in the classroom and life to help them succeed (such as strength awareness and assistive technology), but one thing in particular which I really like is the inclusion of positive role models and success stories. Kids love to hear, see, and read about famous people who are like them. Knowing that they are struggling and that these people who have the same neurodiversities as them also struggled, but made it through and greatly succeeded is exactly what students need.

Indeed, it has inspired a project I want to begin in my classroom in which students research and present a role model to the class. It would be great for them to learn more about their “disability” as well as learn about how someone facing the same challenges succeeded on a large scale.

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

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 1

Hello fellow avid readers! A few weeks ago we finished up Differentiation in Practice and this week, I’d like to begin Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

I began reading this book when it was given to our staff by our principal, as well as the staff of a fellow congregated school which deals with students with behaviour issues rather than learning disabilities.

I have to say, after reading the first chapter, I’m already hooked! What started out as “homework” has become a book I am thoroughly convinced could become the basis of all my future teaching practices.

The first chapter is basically just and introduction to the rest of the book. It discusses how students who struggle in the classroom, particularly with various learning challenges are always labelled “disabled” and we, as educators, try to find ways in which to conform them to the typical classroom (loads of medication, much?) rather than looking at the positives of their differences (neurodiversities) and moulding our lessons and classrooms around what they need.

The largest concept in which the chapter focuses on is that we need to focus on student strengths rather than their deficits. Indeed, who gets to decide what is a deficit in the first place? Who decides what is normal and what is not?

Indeed, I know this is only the introduction and many points made are “common sense”. However, as I previously stated, I believe this will be a book that I will use for the rest of my career to guide my practice as it delves deeper into ways in which to engage students with various neurodiversities.

If you are interested in the book, here is the link to it on Amazon. Chapter two discusses learning disabilities; stay tuned!

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!