A quick review from the first part of chapter 2 – the differentiated classroom environment is developed through expectations, norms, and management. I reviewed the expectations in the last post, so we are on to norms (the values, customs, habits for how things are done) and management (organizing the students, materials, time and space).
The authors state that norms should be reviewed regularly and should be clearly displayed, and they include several norm categories.
There are quite a few management factors offered in this chapter….I don’t want to skip many because they are all critical, but I will attempt to shorten them here:
* establish routines
* define student responsibilities
* give clear directions for all learning styles
* establish indicators of quality
* establish acceptable noise levels
* create signals to ask for help
* define record keeping
*establish lines of communications
It is critical that a considerable amount of time is spent at the beginning of the year, practicing routines and setting expectations.
Anchor activities, which were mentioned previously, are explained as being tasks that are options for students once they have completed their assigned tasks. The anchor activities are critical to the management aspect of the classroom, and they need to be challenging, big idea activities. Anchor activities can also be used when students are waiting for help. These activities could be general or individualized and could be enrichment, extension of current or past units, or skills practice. (The authors state that they use problems from the Mathcounts program (www.mathcounts.org), and that more anchor activity examples are found in chapter 10). What is important is that students understand the directions and the proper use of the activities, so that they can work independently. The authors practice using anchor activities in the beginning of the year.
Several scenarios/activities are given as examples of ways to help establish the classroom environment that will allow for successful differentiation:
* survey students’ needs
* observe students as they are working cooperatively for the first time, to
understand their strengths and needs
* get students to listen and respond to each other
One activity that the authors discuss is having the students write a math autobiography (although I didn’t finish this book last year, I did read this part, and I did have my math students write their math autobiography this past year – I thought it was a very worthwhile activity). In their writing they should include ideas like:
* earliest memories of learning math
* school experiences with math
* how they use math every day, outside of school
* math triumphs
* who has helped them most in learning math and how
* how they best learn math (group, alone, with manipulatives, discussion, writing,
* one concept they know well and one they’d like to know more about
* something they don’t like about math, if there is anything (and why)
The authors include a teacher reflection guide, with 8 questions based on Ron Ritchhart’s work in his book Intellectual Character: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Get It.
On to Chapter 3!