Book Club, Curriculum

KIAT Book Club: The Differentiated Classroom Ch. 3

Chapter three in The Differentiated Classroom is titled Rethinking How We Do School – And For Whom. It was a little too common sense for me and didn’t provide me with the type of information I came to this book for: specific differentiation strategies I can use in my own classroom.

The chapter discusses the fact that school has changed substantially in the last 100 years, and so have students. While many different types of students did not attend public schools years ago (students from poor families worked, students from rich families went to boarding school, physically disabled students were homeschooled, etc.) significantly more attend today.

Students are all extremely different, and as such, all of their learning needs are different.
This chapter felt, to me, like a justification for why we need to differentiate. Nothing rubbed me the wrong way, I’m just already on board with differentiation so the entire chapter felt like a sales pitch for something I already own.

One point which did stick out to me was that children learn best with moderate challenge. If something is too easy, they’ll become bored and if something is too challenging, they’ll begin to lose hope and think they are “stupid”. The challenge as teachers is to find just the right point for where the child is at.

Here’s to hoping chapter four is a little juicier! If you’re interested in learning more about the book, here’s a link to it on Amazon.

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Book Club, Curriculum

KIAT Book Club: The Differentiated Classroom Ch.2

I wrote about beginning The Differentiated Classroom a couple of weeks ago and being excited to be able to encorporate ideas from it into my own classroom.

The first chapter was an introduction to differentiation and also provided some real classroom examples of differentiation in practice, which I appreciated.

Chapter two is titled Elements of Differentiation and begins to introduce what a teacher must do in order to effectively differentiate his or her own classroom.

It discusses the importance of teaching only the essentials, especially to struggling learners, who may become confused with too many useless facts.

Also discussed is what the teacher can and should modify in the classroom and when. For example, if a student is becoming bored then something needs to be altered; the teacher can change the product outcome to suit a child’s interest or the process of learning to be driven in a different way.

Also important was the discussion of assessment and instruction. Being able to use formative assessment in order to guide our teaching practice is a hot-button topic these days, and not without reason. Assessment should be used to help the student and their learning, not to cause them anxiety or to eliminate any creativity from the teacher who has to “teach to the test”.

There was also a great figure about differentiating instruction which listed some great ways to differentiate (which I what I’m always looking for)! If you’re interested in more information about the book, here’s a link to it on Amazon.

Stay posted for chapter three!!

Book Club, Curriculum

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!

Art, Curriculum, Elementary

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!

Book Club, Curriculum

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!

Book Club, Curriculum

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!

Book Club, Curriculum

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!