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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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!

Classroom, Elementary

Mini Office

A few months ago, a co-worker of mine stumbled upon a Mini Office made by Kristen Vibas on Teachers Pay Teachers (my Heaven!). She forwarded it to me because she thought my students could benefit from it, and I am hugely grateful that she did!

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The office itself was created for English Language Learners, but I use it with my fourth graders (who all suffer from Learning Disabilities and are very weak at reading and writing) and it’s an awesome¬†tool! They use it if they’re on writing centres in the mornings or if we’re got a writing assignment, and they have all told me that it is extremely helpful.

Obviously the visuals are excellent for aiding kids in finding and understanding the correct word. Further, when I am trying to help the entire class with writing and spelling, many words they need are here, so it gives me extra time to help elsewhere that’s needed.

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I’m trying to find a lot more visual aids to help my students with reading and writing, and this has helped a great deal. I still want more, though! Anything to help my stands improve their reading/writing, as well as their confidence. Any suggestions?

Classroom, Elementary

PAX Good Behaviour Game

Does anyone else use the PAX Good Behaviour Game in their classrooms? It comes from the PAXIS Institute and our school is one in our district which have begun using it on a trial basis.

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I will admit that I was skeptical at first as to how well it would work; but I’ve found it working very well. For me, in a year-round classroom, school begins again in a couple of weeks and my goal for this year is to implement PAX more often in the classroom. It recommends playing three times a day, but last year I only played about three or four times a week. So one of my goals for the upcoming year is to begin playing twice a day and hopefully three times a day by the time the end of year rolls around.

I began last year, even before playing games in my classroom, by using the harmonica that comes with the kit. Even using just that, I noticed a difference in my students’ attention. The harmonica is much less aggressive than a bell or whistle (and obviously less aggressive than yelling), and they all hear and respond very well to it.

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One of the concerns I had before beginning, was that I feared the game and prizes were geared toward very young students. I teach grade 4, and the kids are still young, but I worried they might be too mature to enjoy some of the PAX lingo and the silly prizes. To my surprise, not only was a wrong, even the sixth graders in our school and junior high students in other schools enjoy the terms and prizes (this genuinely shocked me).

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I’m still planning out if I should use other behaviour tools this year. I always use a sticker chart, but that’s it. I’m not a big fan of behaviour charts because I find that something that public can hurt kids’ self esteem, especially those with ADHD (which our school population has a lot of).

I guess the new year will see what else I implement! Yay for trial and error!