Chapter 2 is fairly long and has quite a bit of information to process, so I'm dividing my summary
into 2 days - I don't want it to get too long for one post!
This chapter begins with a classroom scenario (a middle school class), with the teacher explaining what students will be working on during the class - various activities based on their errors/misconceptions on their preassessment. Students had already received a list of concepts covered in the unit, and in their notebooks, they had highlighted concepts (highlighted by the teacher) on which they needed to focus...different students may have had different concepts highlighted, according to their preassessment results.
Among the activities was a mini-lesson with the teacher, for those who need to work on regrouping when subtracting fractions. The remainder of the class chose the activity they wanted to work on (according to their own list) and they got started. A few of these activities were: designing an I Have Who Has activity; a fraction game; practice problems with answer key provided; and cooperative group problem solving. Teacher checked to see that the rest of the class was working; the authors identified examples of positive student interaction during this work time; the teacher circulated once her group was working on practice problems. At the end of class, students filled out an exit ticket to reflect on their work and to explain what they need help with and what they will work on the next day.
The authors explain that this differentiated math class is a result of the learning environment that the teacher has established, in which “respectful attention” is given to all of the students’ needs. Their needs are determined by the preassessment and by teacher observation. Because the teacher has developed specific expectations early in the year, the classroom runs very smoothly, with students clearly understanding their purpose, the routines, and what behavior is appropriate during their work time. The following “classroom structures” were used in this classroom and, according to the authors, are critical to differentiation ( I will paraphrase some):
1. Class attends to general and mathematical needs of all students with consideration and respect.
2. Students know routines and expectations, such as: assignment posting; entering and moving about the room; getting to work; acceptable voice and noise levels; asking for help; minilesson rules, etc.
3. Students are clear about the location, use and care of materials.
4. Students have different work assignments, due to interest, skill level, learning style.
5. Everyone in room is a teacher and learner, so think-alouds are practiced by all, in partners, with teacher, in small group, and in whole class.
6. Students are expected to stretch their thinking.
7. Independence and self-starting are nurtured and valued.
8. Respectful listening skills are critical.
9. All work is documented.
The authors explain that the differentiated environment is developed through expectations (what you believe and want to occur in your class), norms (values, customs, and habits for how things are done), and management (organizing the students, materials, time, and space).
Among the expectations that should be set are:
* expect students to work toward independence, responsibility for own learning,
* expect students to think about how they think and learn;
* clarify performance standards;
* prepare students to expect different assignments based on need;
* expect students to understand that all in the class are teachers and learners;
* expect students to respect and value each other.
Next post will pick up with norms and management:)