Carol Ann Tomlinson Caroline Cunningham Eidson

Carol Ann Tomlinson Caroline Cunningham Eidson
DifferentiatePracticeK-5 Cover
6/4/03 10:02 AM Page 1
Education
$25.95 U.S.
oin Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson
in their continuing exploration of how real teachers incorporate
differentiation principles and strategies throughout an entire
instructional unit. Focusing on the elementary grades, but
applicable at all levels, Differentiation in Practice, Grades K–5
will teach anyone interested in designing and implementing
differentiated curriculum how to do so or how to do so more
effectively. Included are
J
Grades K– 5
• Annotated lesson plans for differentiated units in language arts,
social studies, science, and mathematics.
• Samples of differentiated product assignments, rubrics, and
homework handouts.
• An overview of the non-negotiables in differentiated classrooms
and guidelines for using the book as a learning tool.
• An extended glossary and recommended readings for further
exploration of key ideas and strategies.
Each unit highlights underlying standards, delineates learning
goals, and takes you step by step through the instructional
process. Unit developers provide running commentary on
their use of flexible grouping and pacing, tiered assignments
and assessments, learning contracts, and numerous other
strategies. The models and insight presented will inform your
own differentiation efforts and help you meet the challenge of
mixed-ability classrooms with academically responsive curriculum
appropriate for all learners.
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Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Alexandria, Virginia USA
DIFFERENTIATION IN PRACTICE • GRADES K –5 • TOMLINSON & EIDSON
A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR
DIFFERENTIATING CURRICULUM
Carol Ann Tomlinson
Caroline Cunningham Eidson
A RESOURCE GUIDE
FOR DIFFERENTIATING
CURRICULUM
Grades K– 5
Carol Ann Tomlinson
Caroline Cunningham Eidson
A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR
DIFFERENTIATING
CURRICULUM
Grades K–5
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Alexandria, Virginia USA
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (for paperback book)
Tomlinson, Carol A.
Differentiation in practice: a resource guide for differentiating
curriculum, grades K-5 / Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham
Eidson.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-87120-760-5 (alk. paper)
1. Education, Elementary—United States—Curricula. 2. Individualized
instruction—United States. I. Eidson, Caroline Cunningham, 1968- II.
Title.
LB1570.T593 2003
372.19—dc21
For the students
who sometimes gently and sometimes
ferociously insisted we see them as individuals
For mentors
who made us believe it was not only possible
but necessary to do so
For colleagues
who share a passion for education as a shared enterprise
that enables students and teachers to grow together
And for family and friends
who renew our energy and greet us with joy—
whether or not we get it right.
Acknowledgments · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · vii
Introduction
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ix
Part I: A Brief Primer on Differentiation · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 1
Part II: Differentiated Units of Study · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 15
1
ALL ABOUT THE ABCs
A Language Arts Unit on the Alphabet · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 17
2
WHAT PLANTS NEED
A Science Unit on the Functions of Plant Parts· · · · · · · · · · · · · · 40
3
WE’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER
A Social Studies Unit on Needs, Wants,
and Community Helpers · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 67
4
THE WORLD OF GEOMETRY
A Mathematics Unit on Basic Geometric Concepts · · · · · · · · · · · · 95
5
IT’S ALL A MATTER OF CHANCE
A Mathematics Unit on Beginning Probability · · · · · · · · · · · · · 128
6
WE EACH HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY
A Language Arts Unit Introducing Literature Circles · · · · · · · · · · · 157
Glossary · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 184
Resources on Differentiation and Related Topics · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 191
Index · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 194
About the Authors· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 198
Acknowledgments
As always, the ASCD team of editors and
designers were the best support system authors can
hope for. The ASCD vision for and commitment to
the concept of differentiation provides rich and fertile soil for this body of work. That ASCD staff
members hold high standards for themselves
encourages us always to do the same.
Both of this book’s authors have become better
educators in the partnership of colleagues. The
teachers with whom we taught longest (particularly those in Fauquier County, Virginia, and at
Peabody School in Charlottesville, Virginia) have
been catalysts for our own professional growth.
We’re also nourished by educators from around the
country who ask hard questions and generously
share their work—both the successes and the
setbacks.
Our friends and families support the
time-intensive goal of writing, even at the expense
of more carefree weekends, holidays, and vacations. It would be difficult to overstate the role of
that sort of partnership in our mission.
Finally, both of us are teachers. The faces and
lives of the young learners we once taught continue to steer us today. The collegiality of the
No book of this sort is ever really written by just
one or two people. There are many hands, minds,
and professional practices reflected in its pages—
and, therefore, many people to thank.
Our thanks foremost to the contributing
authors of the units contained in this book:
Jennifer Ann Bonnett, Elizabeth Hargrave, Laura
Massey, and Sandra Williams Page. Each of them is
the kind of educator who enhances not just the
lives of students, but the lives of colleagues as
well. They are able practitioners of differentiation
and fine curriculum designers. In addition, they
were willing to risk sharing their ideas—first with
authors and editors, whom they knew would tinker
with the material they submitted, and then with
the teachers who would read the finished product
and (quite rightly) examine each unit with a questioning eye. On behalf of all educators who learn
from this book, our thanks to these talented teachers for making it happen.
We are indebted, too, to Cindy Strickland—
a top-quality teacher, thinker, and editor—who
edited, revised, and stretched our work. Her keen
eye and solid thinking have made the book stronger in so many ways.
vii
viii
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
adults we now teach helps us keep theory and
practice—the cornerstones of effective educational
writing—in balance. Both groups remind us daily
of the truth in Susan O’Hanian’s observation about
being an educator: First, no matter how much the
IN
PRACTICE
educator does, it will never seem enough. Second,
the educator’s inability to do everything is not a
license to do nothing. In that spirit, we thank all
those who helped us take one more step in a progression of steps that has no end.
Introduction
This book is part of a series of ASCD publications
an inductive manner, to explore and apply key
on differentiating instruction. Each is designed to
play a particular role in helping educators think
principles of differentiation.
Four video programs, all produced by Leslie
about and develop classrooms that attend to
Kiernan and ASCD, give progressively expansive
learner needs as they guide learners through a
images of how differentiation actually looks in the
curricular sequence.
How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-
classroom. Differentiating Instruction (1997) shows
Ability Classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001) explains
cess, and products according to student readiness,
the basic framework of differentiation. Such a
interest, and learning profile in primary, elemen-
framework allows teachers to plan in consistent
tary, middle, and high school classrooms. It also
and coherent ways. The Differentiated Classroom:
illustrates a number of instructional strategies used
Responding to the Needs of All Learners (Tom-
for purposes of differentiating or modifying instruc-
linson, 1999a) elaborates on the framework and
tion. A three-video set, At Work in the Differenti-
describes classroom scenarios in which differentia-
ated Classroom (2001), shows excerpts from a
tion is taking place. A third book, Leadership for
month-long unit in a middle school classroom as a
Differentiating Schools and Classrooms (Tomlinson
means of exploring essential principles of differen-
& Allan, 2000), discusses how to link what we
tiation, examines management in differentiated set-
know about school change with the goals of differ-
tings from primary grades through high school,
entiation and seeks to provide guidance for educa-
and probes the role of the teacher in a differenti-
tional leaders who want to be a part of promoting
ated classroom. A Visit to a Differentiated Class-
and supporting responsive instruction. In addition
room (2001) takes viewers through a single day in a
to these books, an ASCD Professional Inquiry Kit
multi-age, differentiated elementary classroom.
called Differentiating Instruction for Mixed-Ability
Finally, Instructional Strategies for the Differenti-
Classrooms (Tomlinson, 1996) guides educators, in
ated Classroom (2003) illustrates approaches to
brief applications of differentiating content, pro-
ix
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
x
address varied learner needs and support responsive teaching. Each of these materials attempts to
help educators think about the nature of classrooms that are defensibly differentiated and move
toward development of such classrooms. Each of
the publications plays a different role in the process
of reflection, definition, and translation.
This book uses yet another lens to examine
differentiation and support its implementation in
classrooms. It joins a companion book (Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 5–9) in presenting a series
of actual curricular units developed by teachers
who work hard to differentiate instruction in their
classrooms. Thus, these books move from defining
and describing differentiation to providing the
actual curriculum used to differentiate instruction.
Differentiation in the
Elementary Years
Differentiating in elementary classrooms means that
teachers proactively engage learners where they are,
recognizing that an elementary classroom is a mixed
bag of readiness levels, interests, and learning preferences. Anyone who has spent any time in a kindergarten classroom can attest that young children enter
school at almost astoundingly different levels, with a
wide variety of different interests and experiences,
and with a broad range of learning preferences and
styles. Just as in sports, where some students seem
born to run, jump, and leap through games with ease
while others struggle to walk a straight line, some students enter school ready to learn, having managed to
already grasp the skills needed to do so. Other students take a while to warm up to the structure and
requirements of school. And, while some differences
among elementary students diminish as all are
exposed to the same types of experiences and given
IN
PRACTICE
the same types of learning opportunities over time,
other differences arise and become increasingly evident as students progress from grade to grade.
In elementary schools, the danger of “losing”
students along the way is ever-present, and the same
people who can attest to the wide range of differences
among elementary students can also attest to the fact
that students seem to be “checking out” of school
and academics at earlier and earlier ages. For this reason, it becomes increasingly critical that elementary
teachers find ways to encourage students to remain
engaged in the learning process; this is a challenge
that is difficult if not impossible to meet if students’
differences are ignored.
Another reason why differentiation is so critical in the elementary years is that young students’
early experiences have a profound impact on their
views of school, their conceptions of the learning
process, and their perceptions of themselves as
learners. By igniting students’ love of learning early
in their schooling and by helping them to respect
not only their own but also others’ strengths,
weaknesses, and interests, elementary school
teachers establish the groundwork upon which students build their future learning. This book provides a vision of what student-responsive
classrooms can look like during the elementary
years in the hope that educators will continue to
strive to instill in all learners a joy for learning and
a love of the possibilities that it brings.
What the Book Is (and Isn’t)
Intended to Be
As we prepared to write this book and its companion (Grades 5–9), we had numerous conversations
between ourselves, with editors, and with many
colleagues in education. Each conversation helped
us chart our eventual course. Our primary goal was
INTRODUCTION
to provide models of differentiated units of study.
We wanted to move beyond (necessarily) episodic
descriptions of differentiation to show how it might
flow through an entire unit. We also wanted to
present units at a range of grade levels and in a
variety of subjects. It seemed too much to provide
units for grades K–12 in a single book, so we began
by working with units that span “the middle
years.” The book you’re reading now adds differentiated units for grades K–5.
Even after narrowing the range of grade levels,
we realized there were so many subjects to consider that we had to refine our focus further. Ultimately, we elected to include differentiated units in
math (two units), science, social studies, and language arts (two units). And while we have developed the book with a primary and elementary
focus, our intent is that it be useful to a broader
range of teachers than the grade levels and subjects
it specifically represents. This is a book designed to
teach anyone who wants to learn how to differentiate curriculum how to do so—or how to do so
more effectively.
To that end, each of the units is intended to be
more representative than restrictive. That is, an elementary art teacher should be able to look at the
social studies unit in this book, see how it works,
and use similar principles and formats to develop a
differentiated art unit for her students. A 7th grade
language arts teacher should be able to study several of the units here and synthesize principles and
procedures he finds therein to guide development
of a differentiated language arts unit for 7th graders. In sum, we intend this book to be a vehicle for
professional development.
What this book is not intended to be is
off-the-shelf curriculum for any classroom. It is not
possible to create the “correct” unit, for example,
on how to teach about plants. Teachers in one
classroom will conceive that process differently
than will teachers in other classrooms or teachers
in a different part of the country, in a different type
of school, or responsible for a different set of academic standards. In the end, then, we are presenting educators with a learning tool—not a teaching
tool. If teachers (and other educators) can read this
book and say, “There’s something I can learn
here,” then we will have succeeded.
How the Book Is Designed
Because we want the book to be a learning tool for
a maximum number of teachers, we have made
key decisions about its presentation. First, we
decided to begin the book with Part I’s primer on
differentiation—an essential piece for readers new
to the topic and a helpful refresher for those
already familiar with it. We also opted to include
an extended glossary (page 184), which explains
terms and strategies that might not be familiar to
all readers. Collecting this information in the back
of the book, we thought, was preferable to interrupting the units themselves with “sidebar”
explanations.
Part II, the body of the book, is devoted to
instructional units. We think it will be helpful to
share some of our thinking about the layout and
contents of the units, each of which is presented in
four parts.
• Unit Introduction. The first component of
every unit is the introduction, which includes a
prose overview of the unit; a list of standards
addressed in the unit; the key concepts and generalizations that help with teacher and student focus;
a delineation of what students should know,
understand, and be able to do as a result of the
unit; and a list of the key instructional strategies
used in the unit. Some of the units also make links
xi
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
xii
IN
PRACTICE
across units and disciplines and promote connec-
you enjoy listening to the teachers as much as we
tions with students’ lives and experiences. Note
that because of our desire to make the book a
have.
We tried to balance two needs in our editing of
learning tool and not a set of lesson plans, we have
the units. First, we wanted to maintain the integrity
listed the subject area for each unit, but not a grade
of each teacher’s unit. Second, we wanted to be
level. Similarly, our references to the specific stan-
sure to have both consistency (of terminology, of
dards around which teachers constructed the units
format, of essential philosophy) and variety (in
do not include grade-level designations.
instructional strategies, use of groups, assessment
• Unit Overview Chart. The second compo-
methods, etc.). The teachers who created the units
nent is an overview chart, designed with three
have approved the changes we made or have
goals in mind: 1) to provide orientation in the form
helped us see how to make necessary modifica-
of a “big picture” snapshot of the unit’s steps or
tions more appropriately.
Also, please note that we have opted to make
events; 2) to provide an estimate of the amount of
time each step or event requires; and 3) to clarify
which portions of the unit apply to the class as a
whole and which are differentiated.
• Unit Description. The third component is
the unit description itself. It appears in the
left-hand column of each unit page and gives a
step-by-step explanation of what takes place in the
classroom during the unit. Asterisks in the margins
highlight differentiated components. All referenced
supporting materials (samples such as worksheets,
resource lists, learning contracts, graphic organizers, and assessments) appear at the end of the unit.
• Teacher Commentary. The fourth compo-
the units somewhat more generic than specific. As
teachers, we sometimes have the habit of looking
for exact matches for our classroom needs and jettisoning whatever doesn’t match. As authors, we
can’t eliminate the habit, but we wanted to make it
a little harder to exercise. For example, although we
have taken great care to list state standards
reflected in each unit, we have intentionally not
listed the name of the state from which the standards came. (It’s amazing how similar standards
on the same topic are across states.) We’re hopeful
of making the point that good differentiation is
attentive to standards and other curricular requirements, but we want to help readers avoid the incli-
nent is an explanation, in the voice of the teacher
nation to say, “Oh, these aren’t my standards, so
who created the unit, of what she was thinking as
she planned and presented instruction. For our
this wouldn’t work in my classroom.”
Finally, we decided to include solid units
purposes, this is a particularly valuable element. To
rather than “showcase” ones. What’s here is more
listen to the teacher who developed the unit is to
roast beef than Beef Wellington. We wanted to
move well beyond what happens in the classroom
include units that demonstrate coherence, focused
and to begin to analyze why teachers make deci-
instruction, thoughtful engagement of students,
sions as they do. At one point in the writing and
and flexibility; we did not want to include units
editing process, we thought we should reduce the
that dazzle the imagination. After all, although it
teacher commentary sections to the fewest possible
may be fascinating to watch someone tap dance on
words; we quickly discovered that when we did so,
the ceiling, few of us are inclined to try it our-
we lost the magic the book has to offer. We hope
selves. Hopefully, the units in this book are familiar
INTRODUCTION
enough to be approachable, but venture far enough
into the unfamiliar to provide challenge for future
growth. In fact, in this regard, our aim for readers
is similar to what we recommend for students:
pushing them a little beyond their comfort zones. If
all readers feel totally at ease with the units, we’ve
lowered the bar. If we send all readers running,
we’ve set the bar too high. (In the latter instance,
some judicious rereading over a period of professional growth just might be worthwhile.)
It may well be that the greatest pleasure of
teaching comes from learning. It is our hope that
the book as a whole will serve as one catalyst for
helping teachers become the very best professionals they can be.
x iii
PART I
A Brief Primer
on Differentiation
the other shows neither the patience nor the incli-
What Is Differentiated
Instruction?
nation for reading in the early years.
These are just a few of scores of differences
children in the same family might exhibit. While
effective parents work from a coherent (although
not totally static) set of beliefs and principles about
parenting, they also learn that their application of
these principles will inevitably change as different
children demonstrate different needs—and, in fact,
as the parents themselves garner more experience
in their roles.
In the classroom, the challenges are even
greater. One child enters kindergarten reading like a
4th grader. Another comes with no understanding
of letters or letter sounds. One child pays attention
faithfully when the teacher gives directions.
Another child has great difficulty attending to the
teacher under almost all circumstances. One child
has surprisingly well developed fine-motor skills.
Another child struggles with basic gross-motor
movements.
Effective teachers, like effective parents, work
from a coherent but ever-evolving set of beliefs and
principles about teaching and learning. These
teachers also understand that how they apply these
Differentiated instruction is really just common
sense. Most parents learn pretty quickly that they
must differentiate their parenting for children who
simply are not identical in the ways they approach
life. Perhaps one child in a family is a daredevil,
charging at the world and taking physical risks
from the earliest opportunities. She needs some
parental restraints to help protect her from danger,
but she also needs additional opportunities to
develop the physical prowess that seems so important to her. A second child is more timid physically
and needs encouragement to jump into the pool,
ride a bike, or try out for a team. For this child,
parents might push a little more in areas where,
with their other child (too independent and physically confident?), they would hold back. One of
the children may need a great deal of sleep, while
the other can get by easily with very little. One
may like virtually all foods, while the other is a
picky eater. From infancy on, one may be content
to sit quietly and turn the pages of a book, while
1
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
2
fundamental principles will vary as they focus on
children with different needs and as they themselves become more experienced classroom
leaders.
Differentiated teaching is responsive teaching.
It stems from a teacher’s solid (and growing)
understanding of how teaching and learning occur,
and it responds to varied learners’ needs for more
structure or more independence, more practice or
greater challenge, a more active or less active
approach to learning, and so on. Teachers who differentiate instruction are quite aware of the scope
and sequence of curriculum prescribed by their
state, district, and school. They are also aware that
the students in their classrooms begin each school
year spread out along a continuum of understanding and skill. These teachers’ goal is to maximize
the capacity of each learner by teaching in ways
that help all learners bridge gaps in understanding
and skill and help each learner grow as much and
as quickly as he or she can.
IN
PRACTICE
country looking for better employment. Tia is
very quiet in class and speaks only when pushed
to do so.
Michael, who is black, is beginning to wonder
why he rarely sees people who look like him in the
books he reads in class. He also wonders why he’s
the only black boy in his class who seems to really
enjoy math. He likes math best when the teacher
asks students to figure out how to solve problems
using what they’ve learned. He works best with
classmates rather than alone.
Andrea is very creative and loves talking about
ideas. She has a significant learning disability, however, and has a very difficult time with the sequencing required both in math and in reading. She finds
reading especially tedious because the books seem
silly and simple to her. She thrives on problems
that can be solved in a variety of ways.
Sherita is very bright, reading at an 8th grade
level. She has broad general knowledge and also
thinks in very abstract ways. She rarely learns new
things at school, and the days spent waiting to
Meet Some 3rd Graders
Thinking about the composition of a classroom
clarifies both the need for differentiation and the
challenge this kind of responsive teaching presents
for a teacher. Let’s make the the acquaintance of
some 3rd graders, who are about to become a part
of Ms. Johnson’s group of 26 young learners, ranging in age from 7 to 9.
Iliana speaks little English, but she’s learning
quickly. Her parents are multilingual and speak
English at home as often as possible to help her
learn the new language. Iliana likes math computation because the words don’t trip her up so
badly. Word problems, however, are still a chore.
Tia doesn’t speak a lot of English, either.
Neither do her parents, who immigrated to a new
encounter something different and interesting seem
very long. She daydreams about horses a lot and
likes books on astronomy, when she can find them.
Landry is good with numbers and excellent at
art. He has never liked reading, and he has difficulty concentrating when the teacher asks him to
work with classmates. His concentration is much
better when he works alone.
Max is a cheerful, hard worker, but often
doesn’t have enough time to finish tasks and to
figure out just exactly how things work. He really
loves tools and all sorts of machines. He is aware
that his classmates find school easier than he does,
and he’s getting further behind in most of his
subjects.
Micah seems frightened of lots of things. He
hangs back in class, stays by himself a great deal,
A BRIEF PRIMER
seldom speaks up during discussions, and appears
quite uncomfortable when his teachers call on
ON
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
Johnson’s rationale for selecting the second
approach to teaching?
him. He is absent a lot, and his work is spotty in
quality. It’s hard to get a handle on what he understands and can do.
Will has both physical and cognitive handicaps. His curriculum is shaped largely by an individualized education plan (IEP), but he enjoys the
company and partnership of the other students in
his class, and he’s happiest when the teacher
arranges things so he is part of student work
groups.
Yana has incredible ideas—and an incredibly
hard time writing them in an order that makes
sense to others. She seems to see things in images
rather than words and is often reduced to tears
when she is asked to write.
Betsy loves to get answers right in class and to
finish her work first. She’s happiest when she
knows exactly what she must do to be correct. She
prefers to work alone and gets testy when right
answers and formulas for success elude her. She is
competitive and pulls away from situations that
suggest she may not be best.
These students are a varied lot, but they are nonetheless typical of the academic diversity in most
classrooms—and no more or less diverse in their
learning needs than the rest of the 26 students in
Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade classroom.
Ms. Johnson has a choice to make about the
year ahead. She can try to work around the differences her students bring to school each day and
move ahead with a tightly prescribed curriculum
and timeline, or she can work consistently to
understand the variance in her learners and plan
to address those needs as flexibly and effectively
as possible. The first approach certainly appears to
be the easier way. What, then, would be Ms.
What Is the Thinking Behind
Differentiated Instruction?
Ms. Johnson believes she must balance two factors
in her classroom: the needs of her students and the
requirements of a curriculum. In her opinion, she is
a more effective teacher when she plans and
teaches with both factors in the forefront of her
thinking. In fact, she is guided by her sensitivity to
the connections among four classroom elements:
who she teaches, where she teaches, what she
teaches, and how she teaches (see Figure 1). To Ms.
Johnson, the four elements form a tightly interwoven system in which each part profoundly affects
and is profoundly affected by the others. If any one
of the elements is diminished, learning is diminished as well.
Who She Teaches
With each passing year, Ms. Johnson becomes more
aware that there are a variety of factors shaping her
students as learners. The students’ faces are a
reminder that they represent two genders and several
cultures. She has come to understand that boys tend
to have different learning profiles than girls do, but
she also knows there are exceptions to gender-based
patterns of learning. She has come to understand that
students’ cultural backgrounds can profoundly shape
both their views of school and the ways they experience school. She realizes that school may be a more
comfortable fit for students from the majority culture
(whose background is in sync with the ways that
schools and classrooms are conducted) than it is for
some minority students (whose cultural experiences
and expectations differ from the norms of the classroom). Again, however, she has learned that there are
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4
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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FIGURE 1
RESPONSIVE TEACHING . . .
Who We Teach
What We Teach
Where We Teach
How We Teach
TAKES ALL THE PARTS
variations among the learning patterns of students
from each cultural group. Further, gender and culture
can combine to affect the “fit” of school for a particular child.
Ms. Johnson also sees a great variety of interests reflected in the faces of her students. They
become more animated and involved when the
curriculum intersects with their individual and
group interests, and she has seen how some of
them become excited and engaged by one instructional approach or topic, just as others seem to disengage and float away from her. She knows, too,
that her students are shaped as learners by how
their brains are structured to support success in a
given subject or field. The students’ areas of talent
and degrees of talent in each area seem as varied
as their faces.
Further, due to experiences outside of school,
her students do not necessarily encounter school as
an even playing field. Some come to school with
rich and varied life experiences. Others bring a very
limited repertoire of background experiences. This
reality, too, causes her students to differ in important ways.
All of these factors—gender, culture, personal
interests, ability, experience, and intelligence preference—shape each student to be both like and
unlike every other student in the class. Ms. Johnson
works to understand and honor both the individuality and commonality represented in her class.
Micah, Tia, Betsy, Landry, Max, and all the other
young learners enter her classroom daily, dreams in
tow, wanting to be optimistic about the learning
journey ahead. Ms. Johnson knows that the dreams
are not identical and that the learning journeys will
both converge and diverge throughout the year.
A BRIEF PRIMER
What She Teaches
Curriculum gives students “legs”: the knowledge,
understanding, and skills they’ll use to move powerfully through life. Ms. Johnson’s district provides
well-articulated curricula, which represent both
the district’s best judgment about what 3rd graders
should learn and the reality of high-stakes testing.
All students are required to take the same standardized test in May. Sherita, of course, could take
the test in September and still exceed grade-level
expectations. Betsy could, too. Michael and Iliana
could exceed expectations in math, although perhaps not in some of the other test sections. But Tia
can’t yet spell or read at a 1st grade level. Neither
can Will. Yana would leap ahead of everyone in
writing if only she had some help arranging her
ideas. Likewise, Andrea would excel with some
assistance, even though her writing struggles and
Yana’s have different origins. It’s also true that key
student interests are absent from the mandated
assessment. Art (Landry’s passion) is not on the
test, nor is the astronomy that fascinates Sherita,
nor is much of the African American or Hispanic
American history that resonates with many of Ms.
Johnson’s students and their families.
Certainly the district curriculum will be Ms.
Johnson’s blueprint as she plans units and lessons,
but it doesn’t seem to be the only tool she needs.
She will need to backtrack with some of her students in reading, some in writing, some in math,
and some in science. Some of the students are
missing critical understandings and skills in all
those subjects, but many will need additional
instruction in only one. For these students, she has
to plan to work both backward (to pick up key
pieces) and forward (to challenge and engage).
To do less would reinforce existing gaps in their
learning and magnify their sense of frustration
and futility.
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
At the same time, some of Ms. Johnson’s students have essentially completed the 3rd grade curriculum before the year has even begun. It does not
seem adequate to allow these students to stop
where the prescribed curriculum stops. So in the
common units of study she develops, based on the
concepts and understandings reflected in the 3rd
grade standards, she will find regular opportunities
for some of her students to fill in gaps in knowledge and skill that precede the required curriculum
and regular opportunities for other students to
move beyond the 3rd grade expectations.
Ms. Johnson will also systematically find space
in her curriculum to extend the varied interests her
students bring to class and to expand their interests
as well. She can’t really get to know her students’
points of entry into learning and then disregard
them. In other words, the more fully she understands who she teaches, the more aware she is that
she must adapt what she teaches to serve individual learners well.
Where She Teaches
Ms. Johnson understands that the learning environment she creates in her classroom may be the single most important make-or-break element in
helping her students become the best they can be.
This is a matter of the heart. In a hundred subtle
ways, the learning environment sends each student
continual messages about how the class will be.
How does the teacher communicate genuine
belonging to Tia, who speaks virtually no English,
or to Michael, who even at a young age is grappling
with issues of race? How does she ensure that Max
feels affirmed instead of like he’s always running a
losing race? How does she help her 3rd graders
have real respect for Will, who wants to be one of
the group despite the physical and cognitive
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
6
differences that often seem to isolate him from his
peers? How does she convey to Sherita that there
is always something new to be learned? How does
she help Betsy feel safe enough to risk failure and
Micah safe enough to stop hiding?
Tia cannot feel welcome and affirmed in a
place where her background seems peripheral to
the class agenda or where her current communication limitations make her feel inconvenient.
Michael can’t feel like school belongs to him if he
does not see himself, his parents, and his neighbors reflected in the curriculum. Max and Will
can’t thrive in a place that continually consigns
them to last place in a race to reach benchmarks.
Sherita can’t feel that she matters if no one cares
to provide activities or materials that fit and challenge her. Andrea and Yana cannot find affirmation and use for their rich ideas if they’re unable to
negotiate the barriers that keep them from writing
those ideas down and sharing them with the
world.
It is not likely that these students will each
find the classroom inviting if there is only one set
of benchmarks for success, an inflexible curriculum, or a single timeline for growth. The learning
environment in Ms. Johnson’s classroom is linked
solidly to the varied needs of her students, the
ways in which she can work with a curriculum
that is both prescribed and pliable, and the ways
in which she can enlist each of her learners in
developing a place that attends to the needs of
individuals as well as the needs of the group.
How She Teaches
Because Ms. Johnson sees and values the individuals in her class, she knows she will need to teach
each in accordance with his or her readiness levels, interests, and best modes of learning. Therefore, Ms. Johnson’s central goal is a flexible sort of
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PRACTICE
instruction. She will teach the whole class when
that makes sense—and small groups when that
makes better sense. She will support students in
attaching their own interests to curricular goals.
She will provide multiple ways of learning what
needs to be learned. She will help students come to
understand which approaches work best for them
under particular circumstances.
It is this “how we teach” element that we call
differentiated instruction. This element, however, is
intricately bound with a teacher’s informed and
growing awareness of student profile, clarity about
the kind of learning environment that invites
engaged learning, and analysis of curricular
sequences. Ms. Johnson has accepted two truths
about her teaching. First, she will never be able to
do everything each child needs on a given day or in
a given year. Second, the more diligently she works
to know her students and match her instruction to
their needs, the more likely it is that the year will
be successful for the broad range of learners and
the more satisfied she will feel as a professional.
What Are the Hallmarks of a
Differentiated Classroom?
Ms. Johnson’s differentiated classroom will often
appear different from classrooms where the teacher
practices one-size-fits-all instruction. The characteristics of her classroom stem from her goals of
achieving best-fit and maximum growth for each
learner. Here are some of the distinguishing characteristics of effectively differentiated classrooms:
There is a strong link between assessment
and instruction. The teacher in a differentiated
classroom pre-assesses to find out where students
are relative to upcoming knowledge, skill, and
understanding. The teacher develops units and
A BRIEF PRIMER
lesson plans based on what she learns through
pre-assessment and on her accumulating knowledge of her learners. Throughout each unit, the
teacher continually assesses student knowledge,
understanding, and skill in both formal and informal ways, making ongoing adjustments to instructional plans to ensure progression toward
individual and group goals. The teacher also
assesses learner interests and learning profiles in
order to enhance individual motivation and learning efficiency. Finally, the teacher often provides
more than one way for students to show what they
know, understand, and can do. The goal of multiple assessment formats is to ensure that students
have a way to show what they have accomplished
during a sequence of study.
The teacher is clear about learning goals.
In effectively differentiated classrooms, the teacher
specifies what students should know, understand,
and be able to do for each unit of study. This clarity allows the teacher to focus on essential learning
goals with all students, but at varying degrees of
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groups, depending on the nature of the task at
hand. She also forms groups in which students
have similar learning profiles and groups in which
student learning profiles differ. In addition, she
sometimes groups students randomly and often
guides students in forming their own work groups
or making the decision to work alone on a given
task. As often as she can, the teacher meets with
students one on one to monitor progress, coach
them in next steps, and help them set new goals.
The goal of flexible grouping is to balance the need
to teach students where they are and to provide
them with opportunities to interact in meaningful
and productive ways with a wide range of peers.
The teacher uses time, space, and materials
flexibly. A teacher in an effectively differentiated
classroom continues to look for ways to arrange the
classroom to enable students to work in a variety of
ways, to enable students to use time flexibly, to
match materials to learner needs, and to meet with
students in varied formats.
The teacher involves her students in under-
complexity, with varied support systems, and so
standing the nature of the classroom and in mak-
on. The teacher also maps sequences of skills and
students in mixed-readiness groups, ensuring that
ing it work for everyone. When a teacher guides
her students in sharing responsibility for a classroom in which the goal is to help everyone receive
the support he or she needs to grow academically,
the students become a central factor in that classroom’s operation. Whether the students are establishing class rules, making suggestions for smooth
movement from place to place in the classroom,
helping a peer, distributing materials, keeping
records of their own goals and progress, or any one
of a score of other roles, they contribute significantly both to classroom efficiency and to a sense
of community.
tasks call on each student to make a key academic
The teacher emphasizes individual growth as
understanding that precede and extend beyond the
grade-level curriculum. This enables the teacher to
help students make up learning deficits and continue their learning beyond prescribed levels in an
organized fashion that can be linked directly to
both grade-level goals and individual needs.
The teacher groups students flexibly. At
times, the class works as a whole. At times, students work alone. At times, the teacher groups students homogeneously for readiness, based on
similar learning needs. At other times, she groups
contribution to the success of the group. Likewise,
she forms both similar-interest and mixed-interest
central to the success of the classroom. In many
classrooms, norm-based assessment and grading
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
8
are the unquestioned rule. In a differentiated classroom, the teacher works consistently with stu-
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PRACTICE
The teacher makes sure differentiation is
sign of success. When it does not, it is an indicator
always “a way up,” never “a way out.” It is easy
to underestimate the learning potential of any
learner. The goal of differentiated tasks is to cause
each learner to stretch to complete a task that is
difficult but nonetheless achievable, thanks to a
support system that helps the learner navigate the
unknown portions of the work. A teacher effective
with differentiation will always “teach up” to a
child rather than teaching down.
that an adjustment must be made— on the part of
The teacher sets her own sights high, just as
the teacher, the student, or both.
Parents still want and need indication of a stu-
she asks her students to set their sights high. A
teacher effective with differentiation is reflective
about her students and her own practice. She is
aware of and grateful for lessons that work well for
most of her students. She understands and accepts
that no teacher can be perfect. She does not accept
that she is “doing the best she can.” Her goal is not
preservation of her current level of practice, but
continued extension of that practice through the
very last day she remains a teacher. She has a
learning orientation and is excited by her own
growth, just as she is excited by the growth of her
students. She expects from herself no less than she
expects of her students—maximum effort to
achieve maximum potential.
dents and parents to help them understand the
importance of competing with oneself to achieve
one’s “personal best.” Each student is responsible
for working to progress as much as he or she can
toward goals that are personally challenging. The
teacher is responsible for guiding and supporting
that progress. When that progress happens, it is a
dent’s standing relative to benchmarks, standards,
or grade-level peers. In a differentiated classroom,
though, the teacher finds a way to help both students and parents chart personal growth in relation to designated benchmarks. Under any other
system, Tia, Andrea, Max, and Will would have
virtually no chance for “success” and a high
chance of diminishing effort in the face of discouragement. Under any other system, Sherita and
Betsy would be rewarded for what they already
know without the need to embrace challenge.
The teacher works to ensure that all students have “respectful” work. While students will
display different interests, readiness levels, and
learning profiles, every student should consistently
have work that respects him or her as an individual. In a differentiated classroom, this means each
student is asked to focus on the essential knowledge, understanding, and skill that is core to each
unit and lesson. Each student is required to think
at a high level to complete his or her work. Each
student is assigned work that looks as inviting and
important as the work of his or her classmates.
Drill, practice, and rote repetition do not mark
struggling students. Advanced learners are not
indicated by tangential tasks.
The teacher seeks specialists’ active partnership in her classroom. The effective teacher in a
differentiated classroom is much like a good general
practitioner in medicine. It is the GP’s job to see to
the welfare of her patients. She does that with careful attention to each patient’s symptoms and needs.
Some of the time, the GP can diagnose and treat a
patient without assistance; some of the time, she
needs to call in a specialist. A teacher effective with
differentiation is ready to call on the expertise of
specialists whenever a student’s needs indicate that
would be helpful. Specialists in second language
instruction, multicultural education, reading,
A BRIEF PRIMER
special education, gifted education, counseling,
media, and a range of other areas have focused
their careers on developing knowledge and skills
often unfamiliar to the general classroom teacher.
An effective partnership between a specialist and a
classroom teacher does more than benefit individual students; it is also a great vehicle for the classroom teacher and specialists’ own professional
development, thus bringing exponential benefits to
students for years to come.
The teacher’s differentiation is largely
proactive rather than reactive. The teacher
systematically plans for student differences. She
does not make a single plan for all learners and
hope to “adjust on the spot” if she realizes the
plan is not working well for one or a few learners.
Good teachers always improvise, of course. But
effective differentiation rests upon purposeful
planning for student variance, with improvisation
as needed.
As this list implies, there is no single “right
way” to differentiate instruction. The processes
and practices that support responsive teaching
vary with teacher expertise, the group of students
in question, the time of year, the subject area, age
of students, and so on. Effectively differentiated
classes are guided by common principles but are
crafted in many different ways.
How Does a Teacher Plan for
Differentiated Instruction?
By now, it’s clear that planning for differentiated
instruction must involve careful consideration of
student characteristics, curricular elements, and
instructional strategies. A teacher at work in a differentiated classroom coordinates these three components with an eye toward increasing student
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
understanding and engagement with the material to
be studied. Let’s take a closer look at each
component.
Student Characteristics
There are three student characteristics that may
indicate a need for modifications in curriculum and
instruction. These characteristics are readiness,
interest, and learning profile.
Readiness has to do with a student’s current
preparedness to work with a prescribed set of
knowledge, understanding, and skill. If the student
can complete a task effortlessly, he or she may
make a good grade, but will not learn. If the work
is well out of reach of the student’s current proficiency, the student has no way to accomplish the
task—and frustration, not learning, is the result.
Our best understanding of learning tells us that
each of us learns best when a task is a little too difficult for our current level of knowledge, understanding, and skill and there is a support system
present to help us bridge the gap. In Ms. Johnson’s
class, for example, Will and Betsy are at very different readiness levels for most tasks within the prescribed curriculum. If Ms. Johnson overlooks
differences in student readiness, it’s likely that Will
will be perpetually confused and will not grow academically in systematic ways. Betsy will receive
high marks, but she will not have had to stretch
or grow to be an A student. Neither will be well
served by repeated instruction that overlooks their
readiness levels.
Interest is a major motivating factor for learning. A noted artist recently remarked that he never
liked reading in school until one teacher asked him
to interpret what he read through painting. At that
point, he explained, he realized that authors and
artists were challenged by the same themes and
ideas. He became a better artist for the experience
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
10
and a more willing reader, too. A wise teacher
links required content to student interests in order
to hook the learner. Because of the interconnectedness of all knowledge, there are many ways to link
what a learner finds intriguing and what he or she
is supposed to learn. In addition, effective teachers
find “cracks in the schedule” that allow students
to pursue their passions beyond the prescribed
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PRACTICE
Curricular Elements
There are at least three curricular elements teachers
can adapt in response to learner readiness, interest,
and learning profile. They are content, process, and
products.
Content refers either to what a student should
come to know, understand, and be able to do as the
result of a segment of study, or to how the student
curriculum. Independent investigations can be
will gain access to that knowledge, understanding,
effective for this purpose. Finally, the best teachers
and skill. As often as possible, teachers hold steady
also help students develop new interests and pas-
what the student will learn and modify how stu-
sions—breathing life and joy into otherwise “flat”
dents gain access to the content. For example, all
curriculum.
students can work with the concept of community
Learning profile refers to a student’s pre-
helpers, but the teacher may vary the reading level
ferred mode of learning—the way a learner
of materials students study on the topic and may
learns best. A student’s gender, culture, learning
use interviews with community helpers and videos
style, intelligence preference, or a combination
of community helpers as well as readings about
of those factors may shape learning profile. As
community helpers. Occasionally, though, the
we’ve discussed, some students learn best when
teacher has to vary what the students are learning.
they collaborate with peers; some learn best
For example, perhaps the curriculum calls for stu-
alone. Some students must see the big picture of
dents to learn how to tell time. Two students in the
the thinking behind what they are learning
class have no concept of numbers. Three students
before the parts make any sense; other students
already tell time with accuracy and independence.
work effectively by gathering bits of learning
In this instance, when readiness levels vary so
and then constructing meaning. Some students
greatly with regard to a basic skill, it makes no
are at their most efficient when they do analyti-
sense for the teacher to teach the same content to
cal or “schoolhouse” sorts of tasks; others learn
all the students at the same time.
far better when they work on contextual or prac-
Process is a synonym for activities. A good
tical applications of ideas. Some students thrive
activity calls on students to make sense of the
on individual accolades; others are offended by
knowledge, understanding, and skill specified by
emphasis on the individual and respond much
the curriculum. Learning has to happen in stu-
better to group commendations.
We know many learning profile factors that
dents, not to them. Effective activities are focused
can impede or aid a student’s progress. In a dif-
skills central to a segment of study and call on stu-
ferentiated classroom, a teacher attempts to pro-
dents to grapple with the content so they come to
vide ways of learning that make the learning
“own” it—so they make sense of it for themselves.
journey of each student more efficient and
effective.
squarely on the key knowledge, understanding, and
Products provide evidence of what a student
has come to know, understand, and be able to do
A BRIEF PRIMER
over an extended period of learning (generally
weeks or months). They call on students to bring
together knowledge, understanding, and skill;
apply it; and extend it as a demonstration of their
power with the content. Products guide students
in moving from consumers of knowledge to producers with knowledge.
Teachers continually assess student readiness,
interest, and learning profile, using what they
learn to modify content, process, and products to
be challenging and satisfying for their learners. A
teacher can modify content, processes, and products together or separately in response to readiness, interest, and learning profile.
Instructional Strategies
There are many instructional strategies that are
helpful in differentiating instruction. These are
strategies that guide the teacher in looking at students in small groups or individually rather than
only as a whole class, and they include learning
centers, interest centers, learning contracts,
mini-workshops, independent investigations,
graphic organizers, and collaborative groups.
Figure 2 illustrates Ms. Johnson’s planning for
differentiation at varied points in the school year
as she thinks about her students and uses the student characteristics of readiness, interest, and
learning profile; the curricular elements of content,
process, and products; and selected instructional
strategies to help her match curriculum and
instruction to learner need.
Baseball Camp: A Metaphor
for Differentiation
John McCarthy, better known as Coach Mac, is
director of Home Run Baseball Camp.* Each
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summer, his work with children mirrors the qualities of an effectively differentiated classroom.
The kids who come to baseball camp at any
given time represent as much as an eight-year age
span. Their sizes vary. They are male and female.
Their past experience with baseball varies. Their
talents vary in kind and degree. They represent
diverse cultures and economic levels. But they all
come to camp hoping to get better at their game.
Coach Mac watches the young players carefully, assessing their particular strengths and needs.
Sometimes the kids all work on the same drill.
Often they work on facets of the game they need to
in order to develop most fully as players. They practice individually, in small groups, and as a team.
The team gets better as each individual improves.
The coach also sees baseball as an ideal vehicle
for teaching the kids about life, and into the drills,
practices, and games, he weaves important lessons.
He tells them that keeping the equipment ready is
the players’ job—not his job, not their parents’.
Reading is as big a deal as hitting a home run. You
can’t expect to win if you don’t eat well. Shining
your shoes carefully says something about your
devotion to the game. Coach Mac reckons that in
his camp, kids get 50 percent baseball instruction
and 50 percent life instruction. He muses that it
would be difficult to tell where one ends and the
other begins. Coach Mac says neither he nor the
kids can control the degree of talent they bring to
camp, but each can control the amount of effort
they give to developing their talent. “Talent is what
you bring,” he says. “Effort is what you give.”
Effort is the great equalizer.
The kids love to compete, love to play the
game. “Everyone loves winning,” the coach says,
*Coach Mac was featured on The Today Show (NBC) on
August 12, 2001.
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12
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PRACTICE
FIGURE 2
USING STUDENT TRAITS AND CURRICULAR ELEMENTS TO PLAN DIFFERENTIATION
Student Traits
Teacher Response
Example of . . .
Sherita, Betsy, and several peers
are very advanced readers.
For these students, Ms. Johnson
includes books with advanced
reading levels in most assignments
in language arts, science, and
social studies.
Differentiation of content based
on similar student readiness.
Max loves tools and machines. He
has difficulty with vocabulary,
spelling, and reading.
Ms. Johnson helps Max develop a
growing word bank of tools,
machines, and machine parts.
They use this as a way of increasing his vocabulary, enhancing his
spelling, and prompting his
writing.
Differentiation of content and
process based on interest and
readiness.
Students indicate different interests in the Westward Expansion
unit.
Ms. Johnson forms reading clubs
based on student interests. She
provides access to a variety of
books at a range of reading levels
for each interest area. Students
choose to read books alone or
with a reading buddy. Then the
interest groups meet to share passages and discuss questions that
Ms. Johnson provides and that
they generate themselves.
Differentiation of content based
on readiness (readability of
books), interest (student choice
of topics), and learning profile
(whether student’s preference is
to read alone or with a partner).
Also focuses on mixed-readiness
grouping with supports for successful discussions.
Micah, Tia, Max, Iliana, Will,
Andrea, and several other students have difficulty with reading
or are auditory learners.
Ms. Johnson (or a volunteer) regularly audiotapes key passages from
language arts, science, and social
studies so students can listen to
the information.
Differentiation of content in
response to student readiness
and/or learning profile.
Yana is outgoing and has great
ideas, but also has serious difficulty with writing. Micah is reticent and struggles to come up
with ideas, but is fairly competent
as a writer.
For today’s writing assignment,
Ms. Johnson pairs Yana and
Micah. She thinks their strengths
and needs might be complementary. She’ll watch closely to see
how the pairing works.
Differentiation of process based
on readiness and learning profile.
Emphasis on mixed needs and
strengths.
A BRIEF PRIMER
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Student Traits
Teacher Response
Example of . . .
Andrea is a good contextual
problem solver. Landry is a visual
learner. Betsy is a convergent
learner who excels in “getting
it right.”
For today’s science activity, Ms.
Johnson asks these students to
develop a suitable environment
for an animal with specific traits.
The task calls for research, drawing, and problem solving.
Differentiation of process based
on learning profile, with a mixed
learning profile group requiring
the strengths of all members.
Will, Tia, and Max often need
extra support to understand and
use key concepts and skills. Two
other students have been absent
for almost a week.
Ms. Johnson places these students
in the same work group for the
“suitable animal environment”
science activity. She has ensured
that the animal traits are straightforward and illustrate key concepts and principles, and she
checks in with the group several
times throughout the class period
to guide and monitor their work.
Differentiation of process based
on similar readiness.
Students in the class vary widely in
reading and writing readiness.
All students are developing picture
books that depict a family during
the time of the Westward Expansion. Ms. Johnson gives everyone
the option of working alone or
with one partner. She has developed project rubrics that reflect
goals for all students and goals for
individual students.
Differentiation of product based
on learning profile (working
arrangements) and readiness
(rubrics with group and individual
goals).
Max, Landry, and several other
students have been particularly
interested in how the Westward
Expansion affected Native American families.
Ms. Johnson encourages these
students to focus the picture
books they are creating on the
experiences of Native American
families. She helps the students
find books and Internet resources
to get accurate information for
their books.
Differentiation of product based
on student interest and readiness.
Students have varied needs for
research, generating ideas, writing, art, proofreading, and
editing.
Throughout the picture book
development, Ms. Johnson holds
mini-workshops on each of the
stages students need to progress
through in order to succeed in
their work. Sometimes she offers
the mini-workshops as she
observes needs. Sometimes students request them.
Differentiation of product and
process based on readiness.
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14
“but winning is a short-term thrill. Long-term satisfaction comes from success, not winning.” What
constitutes success? Giving it all you’ve got.
Getting better. Growing. That’s durable.
What do the kids say about the coach? The
short players and the tall ones, the pitchers and
the outfielders, the experienced and the novice,
the talented and the not-so-talented, the white
and the brown think he’s the best, of course.
Why? He really cares about each of the players.
He teaches them so much about baseball. When
they miss a hit, he doesn’t get angry or frustrated, he just helps them learn better. He is
their encourager.
There is much in Coach Mac’s baseball camp
that mirrors the philosophy and practice of an
effectively differentiated classroom. He sees and
studies the differences in the faces and bodies that
stand before him each day. He continually crafts
an environment that asks of each person the best
he or she can give. What he teaches—the art of
the game of baseball—is for everyone. How he
teaches, however, varies with individual needs
and the needs of the team as a whole.
Neither baseball camp nor school is separate
from life. Both are mechanisms for helping
young people learn about life as they interact
with each other, their coaches and teachers, and
the game and content of their curriculum. A primary goal of life, baseball camp, and school is
to do the best you can with what you bring. It’s
the job of the coach—and the teacher—to support that effort.
IN
PRACTICE
*
*
*
We hope this primer on differentiation provides you
with tools for reflecting on the units of differentiated instruction in Part II of this book—and on
practices within your own classroom. Before reading on, pause to consider the following questions:
• In what ways do the explanations of differentiation we provide in this primer mesh with your
understanding and practice? In what ways do they
differ from your view of responsive teaching? How
will you deal with the differences?
• Using the students introduced as examples,
augment Figure 2 with other ways you might modify content, process, and products based on student
readiness, interest, and learning profile if these students were in your class.
• Think about the baseball camp metaphor for
a differentiated classroom. What does the metaphor
suggest that’s best about your classroom? What elements in your classroom does it cause you to want
to rethink? In what ways can you extend the metaphor by adding your own insights to it?
Additional clarification on terms and strategies
discussed in this brief primer and used in the units
that follow is available in the Glossary, beginning
on page 184. To learn more about any of these topics, please consult the Resources on Differentiation
and Related Topics, beginning on page 191.
PART II
Differentiated Units
of Study
Readers read as they wish, of course, and there’s
understand, and be able to do as a result of the
great merit in that. We take away from a source
unit. Check off those standards and goals you feel
what we are ready to take away, and we gather
the unit addresses effectively. Develop ways to
what we can find in accordance with how we
intensify the focus on any goals or standards you
learn best. We would not deny our readers this
freedom even if we could. Nonetheless, we offer a
feel have not been addressed adequately.
• Look for the links between the learning goals
few suggestions and questions to guide your learn-
(the standards as well as what students should
ing from the units that follow:
know, understand, and be able to do) and the individual lessons in each unit. In what ways have
• See if you can find colleagues to read, ana-
these teachers used the learning goals to design the
lyze, and discuss the units with you.
• Read all of the units—or at least several of
specific steps in the units?
• What benefits for students are likely to occur
them—not just ones that seem to address the
when a teacher organizes a unit by concepts rather
grade level(s) you teach. Look for similarities and
than teaching a list of goals without one or more
differences. Record what you see. What seem to be
organizing concepts?
• Think about students you teach. Name them
the non-negotiables in these units?
• Think about how the unit developers have
in your head or on paper. Jot down ways in which
included and yet moved beyond mandated stan-
these specific students might benefit from the dif-
dards. What’s the difference between “covering
ferentiated units versus nondifferentiated versions
the standards” and the ways these teachers are
of the same units. Think about students with a
using standards?
• After you read and study a unit, go back to
range of learning needs, including students who
the list of standards reflected in the unit and the
could be described as “typical.”
• For which students in your class or classes
teacher’s listing of what students should know,
would you need to make additional adaptations in
15
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
order to facilitate optimal learning? How might you
make these adaptations if you were to revise one
of the units? Would it be easier to make the additional modifications in these differentiated units or
in nondifferentiated ones?
• How effective do you feel the various units
are at
— Beginning with sound curriculum prior to
differentiating?
— Making assessment a pervasive and useful element in instruction?
— Providing respectful tasks for all learners?
— “Teaching up”?
— Using flexible grouping?
• How did the teachers who developed these
units seem to have decided when to use
whole-class instruction and activities and when to
differentiate instruction and activities?
• Where in each unit might you incorporate
additional ways to differentiate content for particular students in your class or classes? What about
additional ways to differentiate process? Products?
Which instructional strategies that your students
currently enjoy using would you want to integrate
into these units?
• Where in each unit might you incorporate
additional ways to address student readiness?
Interest? Learning profile?
• In what ways do these units call for flexible
use of space? Of materials? Of time?
• What classroom guidelines would you want
to establish to ensure effective and efficient work
in one or more of these units? How would you
begin the process of developing a flexible but
orderly learning environment in one of these classrooms? How might you enable your students to be
your partners in establishing a flexible and differentiated classroom?
IN
PRACTICE
• Think about connections between student
affect and differentiation as it’s reflected in these
units. In what ways is the general classroom tone
(where you teach) likely to impact student affect?
Why? In what ways is the differentiation likely to
impact student affect? Why? What connections do
you see between student affect and student learning?
• What is the role of the teacher in these differentiated classrooms compared with classrooms in
which whole-class instruction predominates? What
opportunities do teachers enjoy with flexible teaching that may not be so readily available in more traditional classrooms?
• What portions of your own curriculum do
you recognize in these units? In what ways can you
build on what you already do in order to address
the learning needs of your full range of students?
• Which elements of these units do you particularly like? Which do you question? Talk with colleagues about what you see as positive in the units
and what is less positive for you. In each instance,
be sure to explore why you feel as you do.
• Try adding your voice to a unit you have on
paper, explaining why you have crafted the unit as
you have—or why you might now think about
modifying the unit in some way.
• Be sure to apply in your classroom what you
learn from the units in this book. It’s wise to move
at a pace and in a sequence that seems manageable
to you—but it’s important to grow as a teacher!
*
*
*
Our great hope, of course, is that you will be
“stretched” by the time you spend with these six
units. As educators, we invest our professional lives
in the belief that learning is both dignifying and
humanizing. We hope this will be your experience
in the pages to come.
1
All About the ABCs
A Language Arts Unit on the Alphabet
Unit Developer: Caroline Cunningham Eidson
Introduction
This three- to four-week language arts unit allows students to explore the alphabet
through activities based on their individual readiness levels. Throughout, the students are exposed to a variety of alphabet books as they work toward creating their
own books. In addition, students are involved in a variety of large- and small-group
activities designed to increase their grasp of letter sounds and their ability to apply
them. Because it presents information fundamental to literacy, this unit is a good
one to use at the start of a school year.
Students in the early grades differ greatly in their literacy skills (some enter
school already reading while others may not read for another two years). Accordingly, the differentiation this unit includes is based largely on readiness, with interest and learning profile addressed as appropriate. The first lesson in the unit
incorporates a pre-assessment to gauge the students’ starting grasp of letters and letter sounds. In addition to participating in lesson-based, whole-group, small-group,
and individual activities throughout this unit, students spend time in the ABC Center, a learning center that provides a variety of readiness-based anchor activities that
students may complete on their own or with partners.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
When I designed this unit as the opener for our school year, I knew that I had an
interesting but by no means atypical group of students coming my way. I’d already
met Dylan, and I knew that he was reading far above grade level. (At the time, I didn’t realize just how far above, but it was clear that he definitely knew all of the letter
sounds and could use them in both reading and writing.) Salina also had a solid
grasp of the letter sounds, and I’d heard she was a quick learner, too. I had also met
17
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
IN
PRACTICE
Ben, great in math, but in language arts, more typical of a young child than Dylan and
Salina. Ben knew three letters—the ones in his name—and he spelled his name “N–E–B.”
Katie knew a few more than three letters, but I was told that she might have some learning difficulties. Then, of course, there were the rest of the students, each with his or her
own abilities, interests, and learning profiles. How was I going to meet all of their needs
in language arts but still establish a good starting point for the class as a community?
I began by exploring alphabet books, and I found a wide range of interesting ones
that I thought would appeal to students of varying cultures and backgrounds. I realized
that while some students might need the concrete approach of the word/picture alphabet
books, others might be ready for a more thematic approach. And I figured that all my students would enjoy the challenges presented by alphabet riddle and puzzle books.
Once I had selected alphabet books as my starting point, everything else pretty much
fell into place. My job became one of taking an enormous number of possible ABC activities that I had collected over time and matching these with the students who were ready
for them and would find them engaging and challenging.
Language Arts Standards Addressed
• Listen responsively to stories and other texts read aloud.
• Ask and answer relevant questions and make contributions in small- or largegroup discussions.
• Recognize that print represents spoken language and conveys meaning.
• Know the difference between individual letters and printed words.
• Know the difference between capital and lowercase letters.
• Identify and isolate the initial and final sound of a spoken word.
• Name and identify each letter of the alphabet.
• Understand that written words are composed of letters that represent sounds.
• Learn and apply the letter-sound correspondences of a set of consonants and
vowels to begin to read.
• Discuss meanings of words and develop vocabulary through meaningful/concrete
experiences.
• Identify words that name persons, places, or things and words that name actions.
• Use prior knowledge to anticipate meaning and make sense of texts.
• Write each letter of the alphabet, both capital and lowercase.
• Dictate messages.
• Generate ideas before writing.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
19
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Communication
• We communicate in many different ways.
• We communicate all the time.
• We communicate for different reasons.
• The alphabet is one valuable tool for communication.
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• Capital and lowercase letters.
• Letter sounds.
• Vowels and consonants.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• Specific sounds correspond to letters in the alphabet.
• Words are composed of letters.
• Books are made up of parts.
• There are different types of alphabet books.
• The alphabet is important because it gives us a way to communicate.
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Identify and apply beginning sounds of words.
• Brainstorm for a variety of ideas.
• Participate in both small- and large-group discussions.
• Make good guesses.
• Work cooperatively.
• Work independently.
Instructional Strategies Used
•
•
•
•
Brainstorming
Learning centers
Pre-assessment
Think–Pair–Share
• Independent and group projects
• Learning profile-based activities
• Tiered assignments
Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
1.1
Suggested Differentiated Activities for the
ABC Center
Recommended Alphabet Books
38
1.2
39
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
20
IN
PRACTICE
Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Exploration of ABC books
10 minutes
Discussion of ABC books
15 minutes
Introduction
Unit pre-assessment
10 minutes
1 class period
Alphabet sharing and discussion activity
10 minutes
LESSON 2
An Alphabet
Riddle Book
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
Reading and discussion of What’s
Inside? The Alphabet Book
15 minutes
Creation of What’s Inside pages based
on readiness
30 minutes
2 class periods
LESSON 3
Sharing of What’s Inside pages and
class book assembly
20 minutes
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
Discussion of vowels and consonants
15 minutes
Vowels and
Consonants
1 class period
Small-group vowel/consonant
activities based on readiness
20–25 minutes
Vowel review and sharing of ABC
Center activities
5 minutes
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
LESSON
LESSON 4
Different Types
of ABC Books,
Part I
1 class period
THE
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Discussion of word/picture and riddle
ABC books
15 minutes
Exploration of other ABC books
10 minutes
Book sharing
10 minutes
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
ABC Art
Projects
Planning and completion of ABC art
projects
30 minutes
LESSON 6
21
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
LESSON 5
1 class period
ABCS
Product choices based on student
interest
Product sharing
10 minutes
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
Discussion of thematic ABC books
15 minutes
Different Types
of ABC Books,
Part II
Think–Pair–Share: Ideas for the class
ABC book
5 minutes
Completion of pages for the class
ABC book in pairs based on learning
preference
40 minutes
Class ABC book assembly
10 minutes
2–3 class periods
Debriefing activity
10 minutes
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
22
LESSON
LESSON 7
IN
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
LESSON 8
ABC list and alliterative sentences
based on readiness
40 minutes
List and sentence sharing
5 minutes
Review of the types of ABC books
10 minutes
Planning and completion of individual ABC books based on interest and
readiness
5 class periods
The ABC Book
Project
5 class periods
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Letter/poem opening activity
5 minutes
Lists and
Alliteration
1 class period
PRACTICE
Individual ABC book sharing and
closing discussion
20 minutes
The ABC Center
This learning center serves as an anchor activity throughout the unit and should be
stocked with a variety of materials that students can use in different ways to further their
learning: magnetic letters, Wicki Sticks (bendable, wax-covered wires available at teacher
supply stores), alphabet blocks, alphabet beads and string, alphabet pasta shapes and a
pot and a ladle for preparing and serving “alphabet soup,” index cards, cards with pictures representing starting and ending sounds, and cards with capital and lowercase letters written on them.
Activities within the ABC Center are differentiated by readiness. Students either
choose from an appropriate range of activities or complete specific activities as directed.
Differentiated Activities for the ABC Center (see Sample 1.1, page 38) provides a list of
appropriate tasks. Students who needed further practice with the letter sounds and the
alphabet should work on “Level 1” activities, which focus on identifying, ordering, and
writing uppercase and lowercase letters and on identifying beginning and ending letter
sounds. Students who demonstrate a firm grasp of letters and letters sounds and are
ready to begin working with words should use the “Level 2” activities, which focus on
creating, writing, and alphabetizing words.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
Teacher Reflection on Developing and Using the ABC Center
I find it very difficult to differentiate in a primary classroom without using learning centers like the one featured in this unit. The ABC Center made an excellent anchor activity.
Once I introduced these activities to the students, they could work in the ABC Center individually or with partners while I worked with other students in the class.
I decided to differentiate the ABC Center activities because it made little sense to differentiate my class activities so that every child would have to reach slightly beyond his
or her current level and then send the students to work on anchor activities that might be
much too easy or much too difficult. My solution was to find ways students could use the
same materials at different levels of complexity. In this way, I cut down on the number of
materials that I had to collect, and I was assured that there would be appropriate Center
activities for both the Dylans and the Katies in my classroom.
A few words about the management of this learning center: I did not label the activities as “Level 1” and “Level 2,” nor did I find it necessary to color code them (something I
typically do with differentiated learning center activities). Instead, I introduced only one
or two activities at a time to just those students for whom the activities were appropriate,
and I made sure that I was available to give feedback and support as the students first
worked with the Center activities. In this way, I could ask a child to do a specific task with
a particular material without drawing attention to the fact that the students were working
with the materials in different ways. In general, I find that my students are fully aware of
who can do what in my classroom, but I do not feel a need to draw unnecessary attention
to the differences in the work that they do.
I changed the ABC Center activities during the unit, removing some materials and
substituting new activities so that the novelty of the Center would not wear off. Over
time, I found that the students naturally began to teach each other alternate ways to use
the materials based on what I had shown them. (It was great fun watching the many collaborations that occurred!) By taking time throughout the unit to circulate among all of
the students, I was able to monitor their work with the Center activities. I also took time
to conference individually with students so that they could share with me the work they
were doing in the Center. In terms of record keeping, I kept a calendar page for each student on which I wrote the activities that the students worked on. To make the job a bit
easier, I made notes about one half of the class on Mondays and Wednesdays and about
the other half on Tuesdays and Thursdays (unless there was something pressing that had
to be noted on another day). Over the course of the unit, this format gave me a good picture of how my students were spending their time during both class activities and Center
times.
23
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
24
IN
PRACTICE
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Introduction
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Exploration of ABC books. Provide a variety of alphabet
books and let the students choose ones to explore either individually or in pairs. This should be an informal activity that
gives you a chance to observe the students and listen to their
comments as they look through the books.
There are so many alphabet books
available (see the Recommended
Alphabet Books in Sample 1.2, page
39). Throughout this unit, I considered students’ interests and readiness
levels when deciding which books to
use and display in the classroom.
I listened to the conversations and
made notes when I heard something
that told me about what students
already knew. (I often use a blank
chart on a clipboard with all of my
students listed and space for my
observations and thoughts.) In addition to being an opportunity for
assessment, this activity provided a
good, child-centered start to the unit.
Discussion of ABC books. When all of the students have
explored at least one of the books, bring the class together for
a discussion. Make sure that the students bring their books to
share with the group.
Good leading questions to ask include
•
•
•
•
•
•
What was your book about?
What was your favorite page in your book? Why?
What is the same about all of these books?
Have you ever seen other books like these?
What is the alphabet?
Do you see the alphabet or letters in our classroom?
Where?
= Differentiated Component
I find that my students pick up information by listening to one another
during whole-class discussions. In
addition, the format gave me another
chance to gather information on their
readiness levels. I asked open-ended
questions and invited students to
respond on different levels. I also
coached students to build success and
extend their learning. For instance, I
asked them to identify what they saw
in their books for the letter B. (I asked
about a variety of different letters,
making sure to use ones that were in
my students’ names.) In this way, I
invited students to share from their
books and to show me whether or not
they were familiar with B and words
related to it. I also asked students to
share other words with the letter B in
them and to tell about other places
they had seen the letter B.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Unit pre-assessment. Ask the students to use paper and pencils, markers, or crayons to show you what they already know
about the alphabet and letters.
25
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Here, I got some “hard evidence” of
students’ understandings that they
could keep in their portfolios. (I like
to lead students through their portfolios at certain points in the school
year to show them how far they’ve
come.)
At various point in the school day and
while students were working in the
ABC Center, I also did quick letterrecognition assessments with individual students to find out both which
letters they recognized (both capital
and lowercase) and whether or not
they knew the sounds that correspond
to the letters.
Alphabet sharing and discussion activity.
Students share their alphabet work with the class.
Ask: Is it important to know the alphabet? Why?
LESSON 2
During this discussion, I encouraged
the students to share their opinions
on the alphabet’s importance: “What
do we use it for? Why is this important?” This related back to my unit
generalization about communication.
An Alphabet Riddle Book
(2 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Lesson preparation: Prior to this and other lessons, write a letter to the class (correspondence) or a poem on a piece of
chart paper. Possible topics: The day’s schedule, an upcoming
assembly or field trip, or an item on the school lunch menu.
Starting each lesson with this activity
provided consistency for the students
and gave them something to look forward to each day. I used the same letter or poem for two to three days in a
row. Doing so not only saved time, it
also helped students begin to recognize specific letters and, in some
cases, specific words. What’s more,
this activity was a great way to give
the students information about the
day—or the week’s—schedule and
events and to introduce them to
poetry. I found that they often
enjoyed memorizing the poems!
26
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Letter/poem opening activity. Read the letter or the poem to
the students, pointing to each word as you say it. Invite the
students to read along with you if they’d like.
I used a “magic wand” to point to the
letters to add some “sparkle” to this
activity.
Ask students to pick out words that begin with specific
letters. For example, “Can anyone find a word that starts with
the letter T?” See how many words the students can find that
begin with a specific letter, and underline or circle those
words on the chart paper.
As we moved through this unit and
continued on to others, I differentiated
the opening activity by asking students
to find words beginning not only with
single letters but also with blends and
digraphs. Some students were more
ready for the challenge than others, but
they all benefited from the exposure to
blends and digraphs.
Ask: Do all of these words begin with the same sound? How
do you know?
Reading and discussion of What’s Inside? The Alphabet
Book. Introduce the students to this book and ask them to
share what they think they will see in its pages. Then read
through the book, asking students to make guesses along the
way about what they think they’ll see next. Follow each student contribution by asking, “How do you know?” Note
which students can make accurate guesses and which ones
struggle with this process.
This ABC riddle book by Satoshi
Kitamura introduces a letter on each
page and provides clues that invite
readers to guess what sorts of objects
they’ll find on the next page. For
example, across the C and D pages,
there are “elephant tracks” leading to
the E page.
Creation of What’s Inside pages based on readiness. Following the whole-group work with the book, explain to students
that they will be making their own What’s Inside pages.
This activity was a good extension of
the book, allowing students to apply
their understanding of how this riddle
book “works.”
Divide the students into three readiness-based groups, based
on their pre-assessment results, and provide each group with
slightly different instructions:
For some students, creating one page
provided sufficient challenge. Others
needed the “stretch” of completing
several pages. While I try to avoid
simply giving more work to my more
advanced students, here I wanted students who were able to do so to provide clues for their pages, as modeled
in the book. By having students in
Groups 2 and 3 create more pages
(with clues on each page), I was asking them to work at a more complex
level. I also asked Group 3 students to
work with a classmate to make decisions regarding the objects and clues
on each of their pages.
Group 1 (Lower Readiness)
Ask students in this group to work with specific letters that
they already know and give them help with “clue creation.”
They will complete one What’s Inside page.
Group 2 (Higher Readiness)
Students in this group should know a number of letters and
their sounds. Allow this group to work more independently,
but be sure to monitor their progress. These students will
complete two What’s Inside pages.
Group 3 (Highest Readiness)
Students in this group should already know many letters and
letter sounds. Have them either create several What’s Inside
pages or create What’s Inside booklets, working collaboratively in pairs.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
27
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
I designed these activities knowing that
some students would struggle to work
independently while others would be
quite ready and eager to do so. Getting
young children to work on their own
and with others successfully takes a
good deal of practice, but for differentiation to work, they must be able to do
both. I begin providing practice with
these skills during the first week of
school, asking students to work independently for just two to three minutes
and increasing the time as they are
ready. We use the same process with
working cooperatively, and practice
transitioning between activities so that
students learn to move quickly from
one activity to the next.
Sharing of What’s Inside pages and class book assembly.
As students finish their work, ask them to share their page(s)
with one another in pairs or small groups.
When all of the students have completed their pages, put
them together to create a What’s Inside class book—a new
addition to the classroom collection of ABC books.
LESSON 3
After a few minutes of pair or
small-group sharing, I allowed students who had finished their pages to
spend some more time looking
through What’s Inside? The Alphabet
Book or other alphabet riddle books.
Vowels and Consonants
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Letter/poem opening activity. Begin the lesson with this
warm-up.
My struggling readers—such as my
ESL students and those who had
learning difficulties—really benefited
from the routine of repeating this
activity each day. Pictures and symbols related to the poem provided
additional support for these students.
This activity also gave me a chance to
observe student growth.
Discussion of vowels and consonants. Ask the students what
the difference is between vowels and consonants. Write the
vowels (A, E, I, O, U) on the board. Explain that a vowel can
make more sounds than a consonant, and give examples (the
A-sound is different in “cat” and “cake”). As a group, say the
alphabet and stand each time you come to a vowel. Do this as
many times as needed.
Another discussion with a kinesthetic
element.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
28
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Small-group vowel/consonant activities based on readiness. The students will break into two groups, who will work
simultaneously on different tasks.
Because I differentiated by readiness
during the previous lesson, here I
asked the students to complete the
same work, but I divided them into
two groups so that I had a chance
to introduce the Center activities to
smaller numbers of students in
readiness-based groups. I wanted
all my students to complete the
vowel/consonant sheet so that they
could all work on solidifying their
grasps of the different letters and
because I knew that they would all
enjoy seeing the picture that the colors create. I also knew they all would
benefit from practicing their finemotor skills. This activity could also
serve as a formal assessment of students’ abilities to identify vowels and
consonants.
Group 1 (Basic Readiness): Vowel/Consonant Worksheet
Students in this group will begin working on a coloring
worksheet that requires them to color vowels one color and
consonants another to create a final picture. This is similar to
a color-by-numbers activity, and examples of this type of
worksheet are included in many different phonics workbooks.
Allow these students to work in pairs if they want to, and
make sure to leave the vowels written on the board so that
they can see them.
Group 2 (Higher Readiness): ABC Center Introduction
While Group 1 is working, introduce the higher-readiness
group to one or two appropriate ABC Center activities (see
Sample 1.1) and allow these students to begin working with
these activities with partners.
When Group 1 has had enough time to complete the coloring
sheets, switch the groups so that the lower-readiness students
can get an introduction to one or two Center activities and the
more advanced students can work on the vowel/consonant
sheet.
Vowel review and sharing of ABC Center activities. Reassemble the class as a large group to review the vowels, and
ask the students to share what they worked on in the ABC
Center. During the discussion, invite them to think about the
importance of vowels. What would words be like without
them? Is it important that they make sounds different from
consonants? Why? How do vowels help us communicate?
LESSON 4
I led another quick discussion to
allow for review and give the students a chance to hear what their
classmates had been up to (perhaps
sparking some interest in the ABC
Center activities). This discussion
also let me know what the students
were working on in the Center and
if they were doing the Center work
correctly.
Different Types of ABC Books, Part I
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Letter/poem opening activity. Begin the lesson with this
warm-up.
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Discussion of word/picture and riddle ABC books. Tell the
students that in a few days they will begin writing their own
alphabet books. First, however, they need to spend some
more time exploring alphabet books.
Show the class a word/picture ABC book, such as Animal
Alphabet by Bert Kitchen or Peter Rabbit’s ABC by Beatrix Potter, but don’t tell the students what type of ABC book it is.
ABCS
29
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
For this lesson and all those remaining, I made sure to provide many copies of different types of ABC books.
Here, I presented word/picture books
and riddle books, and had the students look at various examples of
only these types.
After looking through this book, show the students What’s
Inside? The Alphabet Book again. Ask the students to compare
and contrast these two books: How are these books the same?
What do they both have? How are these books different?
What does one have that the other does not? Which do you
like better? Why?
This activity introduces a unit
understanding.
Tell the students that these are two different types of ABC
books. One is a word/picture book while the other is a riddle
book.
I’ve found that my lower-readiness
students—those still learning the
letter sounds—really benefit from
the playfulness of riddle books
and that my advanced learners—who
already know letter sounds—enjoy
the challenges riddle books provide in
terms of using clues and making
inferences.
Exploration of other ABC books. Give the students time to
explore other word/picture and riddle ABC books of their
choosing. Students may look at books alone or with partners.
I moved among the students and
asked them to tell me about their
books: “What do you like about this
ABC book? What type of ABC book is
this? How do you know?” These
one-on-one discussions prepared the
students for the whole-group discussion to follow.
Book sharing. Conclude the lesson by asking the students to
come back together as a large group to talk about the ABC
books they looked at. Ask various students to share what type
of book they explored: “Is it a word/picture book or a riddle
book? How do you know?” Remind the students that they will
be creating their own ABC books and that they should be
thinking about what type of ABC book they want to work on.
Invite the students to share their favorite pictures or pages
with their classmates.
I like to give my students as many
opportunities as possible to interact
with one another and to share their
ideas. In this instance, the whole-class
sharing format gave me a chance to
make sure that the students could
identify examples of word/picture
books and riddle books and that they
understood the differences between
the two.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
30
LESSON 5
IN
PRACTICE
ABC Art Projects
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Letter/poem opening activity. Begin the lesson with this
warm up.
Planning and completion of ABC art projects. The students
will create ABC products using various art materials (alphabet
sponges and stencils, magazines, newspapers). Before students begin their work, explain that they can make anything
they want (posters, signs, collages), but that before they begin
their work, they should think about what they are going to
do.
This gave students a chance to pursue
their own interests and be creative.
Everyone seemed to enjoy this activity (my artistic students especially),
and it was interesting to see what
individual students did with it. I provided magazines and newspapers so
that students who wanted to incorporate whole words into their product
could do so while others could focus
on using letters only.
Give the students several minutes to think quietly about their
projects and then ask students to volunteer ideas that they
have.
Sharing project ideas is good way to
spark ideas in students who are struggling to come up with an idea of their
own. I made sure to call on some reticent students and support their success by asking questions to which
they could respond.
As the students finish their products and clean up after themselves, ask them to work in the ABC Center.
Again, using the ABC Center as an
anchor activity helped me manage
behavior and movement throughout
the unit activities.
Product sharing. When all students have finished their products, reconvene as a whole class and allow students to share
their products with one another. Post finished products in the
classroom for all to see.
My students like to share their work
with one another, and I like to see
what they’ve created. Here, I also
gained insight into student’s developing grasps of letters and words.
LESSON 6
Different Types of ABC Books, Part II
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Lesson preparation: This lesson features an activity to be completed in mixed pairs, based on learning preference. Prior to the
lesson, spend a few minutes creating the pairs, matching a student who likes to write with a student who prefers to draw.
(2–3 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
My goal for this pairing was to mix
learning profiles with regard to writing and illustrating. I often find that
although some of my students do not
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
ABCS
31
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
like to write, they have great ideas
and can show their thinking through
drawing. Others genuinely like to
write, can express themselves clearly
through writing, and would prefer to
do that instead of drawing.
Letter/poem opening activity. Begin the lesson with this
warm-up.
Discussion of thematic ABC books. Remind the students that
later, they will be creating their own ABC books.
Ask the students if they can remember the two types of ABC
books they have already learned about and explored. Ask
them if they can name examples of these two types.
A quick review is always a good idea.
Tell the students that during this lesson, they will look at
another type of ABC book and then work on a class project.
Read a thematic ABC book such as Alison’s Zinnia by Anita
Lobel or The Path of the Quiet Elk: A Native American Alphabet Book by Virginia A. Stroud.
For this lesson, I chose a thematic
ABC book that I thought would draw
on the interests of as many of my students as possible.
Discuss the book: Is this book an ABC book? Why? How is
this book the same as the other types of ABC books we
looked at? How is it different? What is this book all about?
I used questions to encourage my students to think on higher levels and to
defend their ideas.
Tell the students that this book is an example of a thematic
ABC book: an ABC book about one type of thing or topic.
What else could the author have included in this book? How
might that have changed the story? How do pictures and
words communicate ideas?
My students often like to add their
own ideas. I gave them the chance to
do so here. This discussion also
allowed me to introduce the unit
concept of communication.
Tell the students that the class is going to create its own thematic ABC book called The Kindergarten ABC Book.
A class book was a natural fit for this
unit. I have found that my students
enjoy making class books, and the
more often we do it, the easier it
becomes.
Think–Pair–Share: Ideas for the class ABC book. Use
Think–Pair–Share to get the students thinking about what
might go into the ABC book. Give the students a moment to
think about what words could be included in a book about
kindergarten. What ideas do we want to communicate?
I used a Think–Pair–Share here
because I wanted to focus all the students on the topic at hand, and this
approach gives every individual a
chance to share an idea with someone else.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
32
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Ask the students to turn to a partner (someone sitting next to
them) and share their ideas with that person.
Next ask the students to share their ideas with the large group
as you write their ideas on the board. What letters do these
words begin with?
I wrote the letters A–Z on the board
so that we could check them off as
the students finished their ABC pages.
Completion of pages for the class ABC book in pairs based
on learning preference. Arrange the students in
the mixed pairs you have created. Tell the pairs that they are
going to create pages for the class ABC book, and assign each
pair two or three letters to work with. The students will work
with their partners to come up with words that match their
letters and that tell about what life is like in kindergarten.
One student in each pair will write the words and the other
student will draw pictures to go along with the words, but
both students will participate in deciding what to include
on the page.
Again, I was careful to match a student who liked to write with a student who liked to draw.
Class ABC book assembly. As the pairs finish their pages,
work as a large group to put the pages in order by spreading
them out across the floor or in the hallway. Which page
should come first? Second? Third? Next? Staple the pages
together along with a title page.
I began this process while the pairs
were finishing their work so that
those who finished first would not be
unoccupied. Of course, students who
finished early might also have worked
in the ABC Center.
Debriefing activity. Read the finished The Kindergarten ABC
Book to the class. Ask the students to recall what type of ABC
book this is. Which type of ABC book—word/picture, riddle,
or thematic—do they like best? Why? Also, discuss what each
pair had to do to finish their pages.
As part of the closure for this lesson, I
asked the students to think about
how well they worked with one
another and related the discussion to
the concept of communication.
Ask: What did you do to finish your work? Did you have to
cooperate? How? What did you do well? What could you have
done better?
I find that debriefing after small-group
or partner work helps my students to
cooperate and work together better
the next time we do it. These skills
are non-negotiables in a differentiated
classroom.
LESSON 7
Lists and Alliteration
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Letter/poem opening activity. Begin the lesson with this
warm-up.
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
33
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
ABC list and alliterative sentences based on readiness.
Divide the class into two groups based on readiness levels
with regard to the alphabet so that one group is made up of
advanced students and the other is made up of less-advanced
or struggling students. While you work with one group of students, the other group will work in the ABC Center.
This lesson incorporates activities that
classes often participate in as whole
groups. However, because the activities really address different readiness
levels, I decided to match them to the
most appropriate learners.
Group 1 (Higher Readiness): Alliterative Sentences Activity
These students will work with alliteration. Write an alliterative sentence on the board, have a student in the group read it
aloud, and ask the students what they notice about the
sentence.
I wanted my higher-readiness students to apply their grasp of letter
sounds, and I’ve found that my students enjoy the word play involved in
creating alliterative sentences.
Be sure to accept all answers, but lead students to see that
almost all of the words in the sentence begin with the same
sound (although not necessarily the same letter).
As often as possible, I let students discover on their own what I want them
to see. To that end, I make sure students are clear on the correct answer
when there is one.
Explain to the students that the sentence is alliterative, and
tell them that they will be writing their own alliterative
sentences.
Young children love learning big
words, so I always give the real
terminology.
Begin by choosing the name of a child in the group (for example, John). Have the students brainstorm as many words as
they can that begin with the J-sound and write their words on
the board. Next, read through all of the words, adding new
ones as the students come up with them.
I do a lot of brainstorming with my
students so they understand the
ground rules early in the year: Everyone participates. All answers are OK.
None are wrong.
Ask the students to tell you which of the words are things that
they can do, and circle these words as they identify them. Tell
the students that these words are action words and that we
call them verbs.
This was my way to get the students
thinking about grammar and the special jobs that words can have in a sentence. Again, I gave them the real
terminology and pointed out that just
as books have different parts or jobs,
so do words in a sentence.
Begin the sentence with John doing something, such as “John
jumps” or “John juggles.” Then ask leading questions so that
the students can add to the sentence. For example, “Where is
John doing this?” “Who is he doing it with?” “Why?”
Ask John and the rest of the students in the group to select
the options they like best and write their full sentence on the
board.
(Heads Up! At this point, it’s a good idea to let the Group 2
students who are working in the ABC Center know that they
need to finish their work and get ready to work with you.)
I believe in giving warnings so that
the students know when their time
will be up.
34
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Tell the students that they will work in pairs to write their
own alliterative sentences. Before they begin their work,
review the steps that you went through as a group so that the
students know exactly what you expect them to do.
Allow Group 1 students to select partners and begin their
work. Tell them that after they write an alliterative sentence
they may illustrate it. When they finish an alliterative sentence, they may either work on other sentences or in the ABC
Center.
Before I sent Group 1 students off to
work independently of me, I made
sure that they were clear about what
they needed to do. I’ve found that
reviewing requirements first cuts
down on problem behaviors once students are working without direct
teacher supervision.
Group 2 (Lower Readiness): ABC List Activity
Explain to this group that they will be working on an “ABC
List” and show them the alphabet written vertically on chart
paper.
I wanted my lower-readiness students
to continue working on establishing
their grasp of beginning letter sounds.
Tell the students that together, you are going to make an
alphabetized list of things. Ask them to choose between
making a list of animals and making a list of foods.
My lower-readiness students tend
to need my support more than my
higher-readiness students do. For this
lesson, they worked with me to create
one group list rather than creating
lists of their own. Posters and charts
depicting animals or foods helped
support ESL students through visual
cues. I also allowed ESL students to
think of examples in their native
languages.
When they have chosen a topic, give them a couple of minutes to think of things that fit the topic. Then ask the students
to raise their hands to share their ideas by telling which letters
their ideas go with. For instance, if the group were working
with types of food, “banana” would go with B.
Make sure that all of the students get a chance to contribute
to the list, but write down only one idea per letter.
I tried to reserve some letters for specific students so that they could experience success with this activity. For
example, I asked a student who only
really knew four letter sounds to provide an idea for one of those.
Once the students have come up with ideas for as many of
the letters as they can, ask them to create illustrations to go
along with the list by selecting a letter and drawing a picture
of the food or animal that goes with it.
Creating their illustrations gave the
students a chance to work independently and to further their grasp of letter sounds.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
List and sentence sharing. Bring all of the students together
so that they can share their work with the whole group. Allow
students in both groups to share what they came up with
(sentences or words) and their illustrations. Post the students’
work in the classroom.
LESSON 8
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
As I had hoped, this sharing session
inspired students (even lower-readiness students) to play with letter
sounds and alliteration on their own.
The ABC Book Project
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
35
(5 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Lesson preparation: This is a long project that spans several
class periods. It may be helpful to ask for parent volunteers to
help you during the course of this project.
Review of the types of ABC books. Quickly review the three
types of ABC books by showing several pages from ABC
books and asking the students to tell you what type of ABC
books they are. How do they know?
This review also served as a quick
assessment of the students’ understandings of different types of ABC
books.
Planning and completion of individual ABC books based
on interest and readiness. Explain to the students that this
project is a long one. During it, they will plan their book and
then create it.
I wanted to give students an opportunity to pursue their own individual
interests. I also knew I could further
differentiate the project by varying my
expectations for students’ work and
by encouraging students to tackle different degrees of challenge within the
project. For example, I expected (and
encouraged) my more advanced
learners to incorporate greater depth
of thought in their books by using a
thematic approach. On the other
hand, I did not want to frustrate my
struggling learners, so I helped them
choose an approach that enabled
them to be successful. The majority of
my students, just beginning to grasp
beginning letter sounds, created a
word/picture book.
Allow students who need it time to look through the class
collection of ABC books to help them decide what they
want to do. Others will know what they want to do almost
immediately.
Ask the students to think about what type of ABC book they
would like to make. As they share their ideas with the class,
write down their plans so that you can refer back to them to
remind the students of what they chose. Prompt them by asking, “What makes a good ABC book?”
Using an ABC book that the class is familiar with, ask the students to identify the parts of the book.
Ask: How are the pages ordered? What comes first in a book
after the cover?
Make sure that all of the students can identify the front and
back covers of the book and that they can show you the title
page inside the front cover.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
36
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Give each student two pieces of construction paper and show
them how they can use them as the front and back covers of
their books.
I have also had students create “hardcover” books using cardboard, wallpaper, and rubber cement. Students
sew their pages together, making sure
to provide extra pages to glue to the
insides of their covers. This is a much
more involved way to complete this
project, but I’ve found that it’s well
worth the effort.
Ask: What is the title of your book?
I asked students who needed help
with writing to dictate their titles to
me as I wrote them on their book
covers.
Remind students to think of titles that go along with what
their books are about. Would it make sense to call your book
a counting book if it is about the alphabet?
When the students have finished their book covers, they will
create their title pages using copy paper. Ask: Where does the
title page go? What is on a title page?
As the students finish pieces of their books, clip the pages
together or put them in folders so that nothing gets lost.
The students will continue their work on this project over
several days as they work on their ABC pages. Meet with students individually or in small groups to ensure that they are
making progress and that they are sticking to the type of ABC
book they initially chose. Some students will need more help
with their books than others. As students finish their books,
encourage them to work in the ABC Center.
Individual ABC book sharing and closing discussion. When
all of the students have finished their ABC books, give them
time to share them with one another. End the unit with a discussion of how the alphabet helps us communicate.
While I knew it might be useful to
allow some students to work with one
another to complete a book, I decided
it was best to let each of them make
his or her own.
Not only did the students get a
sense of completion by participating
in this project, but it also gave me
ample information about their grasp
of letter sounds, their understanding
of different types of ABC books,
their ability to identify parts of a
book, and their ability to plan and
complete their work. In this way,
this project also served as my
assessment for the unit.
At the conclusion of this formal sharing session, we added all the ABC
books created to our classroom library
so that students could spend additional time exploring them on their
own.
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
Teacher Reflection on the Unit
I’ve taught this unit several times, and each time it feels tighter and more focused. But
one thing that remains the same is my students’ high degree of engagement with the unit
activities. I think the time that I put into assessing where students are and matching them
to activities accordingly really pays off in that each child is then invited to grow as much
as he or she can from his or her own starting point. I know that all of my students must
know and be able to use the alphabet. I also know that children arrive at these skills at
very different times. This unit enables me to respond appropriately to my students’ needs
at a particular time and in a particular subject area. Plus, the students love ending the
unit by making and sharing their own books. They get an enormous sense of accomplishment when they see their finished products.
Caroline Cunningham Eidson has taught elementary and middle school students in Virginia and
North Carolina. She can be reached at [email protected]
37
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
38
IN
PRACTICE
SAMPLE 1.1— Suggested Differentiated Activities for the ABC Center
Level 1 Activities
Level 2 Activities
Use magnetic letters to put letters in ABC order
and to identify capital and lowercase letters.
Use magnetic letters to spell words and then write
them.
Use pasta letters (all capital) to put letters in ABC
order.
Use pasta letters to spell words and then put them
in ABC order.
Use Wicki Sticks to make letters, both capital and
lowercase.
Use Wicki Sticks to spell words based on picture
cards using both capital and lowercase letters.
Use wooden blocks to put letters in ABC order.
String alphabet beads in ABC order.
String alphabet beads to spell words.
Ladle out letters from a pot of “alphabet soup”
(pasta letters in water) and put the letters in
alphabetical order.
Ladle out letters from a pot of “alphabet soup”
and write words that begin with those letters.
Then put the words in alphabetical order.
Ladle out letters from a pot of “alphabet soup”
and write or draw pictures to illustrate words that
begin with those letters.
Ladle out letters from a pot of “alphabet soup”
and create words using those letters.
Play beginning-letter “Concentration” using picture
cards and letter cards.
Alphabetize words written on index cards. (Increase
complexity by having students look at second and
third letters as well as first.)
Create and write alphabetical sentences in which
the words are in alphabetical order (for example,
“A Boy Catches Dolphins.”).
UNIT 1: ALL ABOUT
THE
ABCS
SAMPLE 1.2— Recommended Alphabet Books
Word/Picture Books
ABC Americana from the National Gallery of Art by Cynthia Elyce Rubin
ABC Kids by Laura Ellen Williams
Alphabatics by Suse MacDonald
Animal Alphabet by Bert Kitchen
The City ABC Book by Zoran Milich
Pedro, His Perro, and the Alphabet Sombrero by Lynn Rowe Reed
Peter Rabbit’s ABC by Beatrix Potter
Riddle Books
Anno’s Alphabet by Mitsumasa Anno
Gretchen’s ABC by Gretchen Dow Simpson
What’s Inside? The Alphabet Book by Satoshi Kitamura
The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts by Chris Van Allsburg
Thematic Books
Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel
Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove
Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur (also has books for other seasons)
A Book of Letters by Ken Wilson-Max
The Butterfly Alphabet by Kjell B. Sandved
The Cowboy ABC by Chris Demarest
Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel L. Feelings
A Jewish Holiday ABC by Malka Drucker
The Path of the Quiet Elk: A Native American Alphabet Book by Virginia A. Stroud
What Pete Ate From A–Z by Maira Kalman
The Wildlife A-B-C: A Nature Alphabet Book by Jan Thornhill
39
2
What Plants Need
A Science Unit on the Functions of Plant Parts
Unit Developer: Caroline Cunningham Eidson
Introduction
This hands-on, three- to four-week science unit invites students to explore plant
growth and survival. During this unit, students ask questions and devise ways to
find answers as they discover why plant parts are important. They also observe
plant growth to learn about a plant’s life cycle. Writing is integrated throughout this
unit. In addition to working with scientific process skills, students engage in writing
activities that encourage descriptive and clear thinking as well as creativity.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
Many elementary students enter school knowing some information about plants,
but few have really worked with plants in a scientific way. They may have some
experience with planting gardens or tending to plants in their homes or neighborhoods, or they may have developed an interest in plants by exploring plants in their
environments. Also, many preschool and kindergarten classrooms offer experiences
with plants. The bottom line is that students come with a range of knowledge and
experiences related to plants and with varying degrees of interest in them and in science in general. With this unit, I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to
extend their prior knowledge of and experience with plants while they worked with
the skills of science. I wanted the students to learn to ask questions, describe things
in detail, carry out experiments, and draw conclusions. Because I believe it’s important to get students writing early and often, I wanted to integrate opportunities for
descriptive and creative writing.
I began the unit with a couple of informal pre-assessment activities to evaluate
my students’ engagement with the topic of plants in general and their levels of experience with and understanding of plants. I knew that my job throughout this unit
40
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
would involve matching students and activities appropriately—not only to ensure challenge and success, but also to ensure engagement, either through the focus on plants or
through the focus on science skills in general.
Each time I teach this unit, I find a different way to do it that best meets my students’
needs. Some groups need or want more practice with the scientific process than other
groups. Other groups are intrinsically interested in plants and in discovering more about
them. Despite differences in groups and individual students, my non-negotiables remain
the same: I want my students to come to see themselves as capable of “doing” science,
and I want them to achieve this through a hands-on approach that invites them to exercise their interests.
Science Standards Addressed
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Ask questions about organisms, objects, and events.
Plan and conduct simple descriptive investigations.
Construct reasonable explanations and draw conclusions.
Communicate explanations about investigations.
Record and compare collected information.
Observe and describe the parts of plants.
Observe and record changes in the life cycle of plants.
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Needs (main concept), Growth, Change, System
• All living things have needs.
• Needs must be met in order for living things to survive, grow, and be healthy.
• Needs can be met in different ways.
• Living things are built so that their needs can be met.
• Plants and animals (including people) have some similar needs.
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• The names and functions of plant parts: root, stem, leaf, flower, and seed.
• Plant needs: light, water, air, soil, and food.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• Plants have needs that must be met in order for them to grow and survive.
• Each plant part has a specific job that helps the plant.
• If one plant part cannot do its job, then the whole plant suffers.
• A plant and its parts change as the plant grows.
• Plants are important to people in many ways.
• Scientists use specific skills in their work.
41
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
42
IN
PRACTICE
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Identify and describe plant parts.
• Explain the role of each plant part.
• Explain what plants need.
• Ask questions.
• Make observations.
• Describe, compare, and contrast.
• Carry out simple experiments.
• Record changes in the life cycle of a plant.
• Work independently.
• Work cooperatively.
• Show appreciation for plants.
Instructional Strategies Used
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Closure strategies: Alphabet bag, 3–2–1
Gardner’s multiple intelligences
Interest surveys
Jigsaw groups
Learning stations
Pre-assessment
Round robin brainstorming
Small-group investigations
Student choice concerning groupings
Tiered assignments
Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
2.1
2.2
2.3
Suggested Plant Anchor Activities
Needs Comparison Graphic Organizer
Plant Needs Group Experiment
Planning Sheet
Plant Needs Group Experiment
Observation Sheet
Plant Part Experiment Observation Sheet
Recommended Books About Plants
61
62
63
2.4
2.5
2.6
64
65
66
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Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
Pre-Assessment
and
Introduction
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
“Find Someone Who . . .” plant information scavenger hunt
15–20 minutes
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Struggling students may work in
mixed-readiness pairs
Creation of class plant web, working
in pairs, then as a whole group
15–20 minutes
Independent or partner work based
on learning profile
25–30 minutes
2 class periods
Alphabet bag closure activity
5–10 minutes
LESSON 2
Working Like
a Scientist
1 class period
LESSON 3
Introduction to science skills
10 minutes
Science skill station rotations in
mixed-ability groups
20–25 minutes
Individualized scaffolding provided as
necessary
Discussion of science skills
10 minutes
Science skills review
5 minutes
Introductory discussion of human and
plant needs
10 minutes
Exploring
Plant Needs
Small, mixed-readiness group
experiments about plant needs
30 minutes to set up, then 5–10
minutes during successive periods
Groups choose a plant need to
investigate based on interest
Jigsaw to share findings from group
experiments
15 minutes
5–7 class periods
Independent or partner tasks based
on readiness
30 minutes
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON
IN
PRACTICE
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Sharing of work
15 minutes
Alphabet bag closure activity
5 minutes
LESSON 4
Review of plant needs
5 minutes
Lesson introduction and plant part
interest survey
10–15 minutes
Plant Parts
and Their Jobs
Plant part experiment setup
15 minutes
Small-group research and product
assignments based on interest
3–4 class periods
Sharing of group products
15 minutes
4–5 class periods
Experiment and research wrap-up
10 minutes
Alphabet bag closure activity
5 minutes
LESSON 5
Review
2 class periods
LESSON 6
Unit
Assessment
2 class periods
Round robin brainstorming review in
small, mixed-readiness groups
20 minutes
The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed
video
35 minutes
3–2–1 closure activity independently
or in pairs
20 minutes
Individualized assistance provided for
students who need it
Three assessment tasks
45–50 minutes
Modifications and scaffolding provided for struggling writers
Whole-group acrostic activity
15–20 minutes
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
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Plant Anchor Activities
During the unit, students should have access to a list of anchor activities that they can
work on either individually or with a partner when they have finished their work on the
regular lesson activities. The Suggested Plant Anchor Activities (see Sample 2.1, page
61) provides a list of appropriate activities that address various interests and learning profiles. The activities encourage students to extend their thinking about plants, and they
highlight a variety of learning profiles. For example, there are activities designed for verbal learners, mathematical learners, creative thinkers, and artistic and musical students.
Allowing students to choose, or even design, their own activities helps to ensure that they
will be engaged with those activities.
Post a list of plant anchor activities in the classroom for all to see, and make sure students have access to the materials they’ll need, including a variety of books at multiple
reading levels, magazines, catalogs, and outdated floral calendars and date books.
Teacher Reflection on the Use of Anchor Activities
Because this unit involves growing plants and observing that growth (which rarely goes
“as scheduled”) and because students never seem to finish work at the same time or in
the time that I provide, I knew that I needed to approach the issue of time during this unit
with flexibility. Anchor activities provide a solution.
Some of my students were able to select and begin activities on their own while others needed some encouragement and guidance. I provided assistance and feedback as I
circulated around the room during small-group and individual work times. Also, on Fridays, I always provide time for my students to complete work they have not finished during the week. For those who had finished all of their work, this was a great time to pursue
some plant anchor activities. Fridays were also a good time for my students to share their
anchor activities with one another.
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Pre-Assessment and Introduction
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
“Find Someone Who . . .” plant information scavenger
hunt. Begin the unit by giving each student a pencil and four
different-colored index cards with the following instructions
on the cards:
(2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
One challenge of teaching children is
finding ways to engage them quickly
in a particular unit of study. I chose
this activity to get my students
involved in the topic of plants and
to get them up and moving!
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
• Card 1: Find someone who knows two things that plants
need.
• Card 2: Find someone who has a garden.
• Card 3: Find someone who can name three parts of a
plant.
• Card 4: Find someone who can name a type of plant.
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
I also find that this kind of activity
allows students to learn from one
another.
Tell the students that they are to walk quietly around the
room to find classmates who fit the instructions on each card.
When they find a classmate who fits a card description, they
must write that person’s name on the card. Each student must
collect two names on each card and all the names on all four
cards must be different (“For example, you cannot write
Janna’s name on more than one card.”).
Circulate among the students, helping those who need assistance with finding and talking to classmates, with reading the
cards, or with writing the names.
Here, moving among the students
gave me a chance to listen to their
ideas. Typically, I keep a clipboard
with me at all times for jotting down
quick notes.
In some cases, such as with ESL students or other students
who might seriously struggle with the reading and writing
involved in this activity, it might be helpful to pair students so
that they can help one another find classmates and write
names.
In activities like this one, I sometimes
put students in mixed-readiness pairs
so that struggling learners can participate without too much frustration.
When the students have found two classmates for each of the
cards (or when you can see that the activity needs to end
because almost all have finished), bring the class together to
discuss what the students discovered about one another, asking questions such as, “How many of you found out that
someone has a garden?” “Who has a garden?” “Does anyone
else have a garden?” Note the students’ responses and collect
the index cards.
I used the information from this activity (my observations, the discussion,
and the cards themselves) to get a
baseline “read” of where my students
were with regard to their knowledge
of and experience with plants. Thus,
it also served as a pre-assessment for
this unit.
Creation of class plant web, working in pairs, then as a
whole group. Next, tell the students that they are going to
create a class web about plants and that they will need to
share what they already know about plants.
Paired with the scavenger hunt, this
whole-group activity gave me a good
picture of what my students knew
about plants.
Put the students in random pairs and give each pair two paper
circles and a pencil. Ask the pairs to work together to write
(or draw, if writing is too difficult for some) one thing about
plants on each circle.
Working in pairs gives students a
chance to share and test their ideas
before presenting them to the whole
group.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
When each pair has completed its circles, bring the whole
group together to share and discuss the ideas while creating
the class web.
Place a larger circle in the middle of a piece of chart paper,
and write “plants” in this circle. Ask students to share their
ideas one at a time so that the group can discuss them and
add to them. As ideas are shared, note when they are similar
to other ideas, and place them together around the larger circle, asking, “Does this idea go with any other ideas? How?”
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
This was an opportunity to teach the
whole class about webbing, and it got
the students categorizing and labeling
ideas.
By listening closely and taking notes
throughout this activity, I picked up
a lot of information about what
students knew and understood about
plants—and what they misunderstood!
The goal is to begin categorizing the ideas based on the students’ thinking and place them in categories around the larger
circle.
Ask: Where might this idea belong on our web? Which ideas
does it seem it fit with?
When all of the pairs’ ideas have been shared and placed on
the web, invite the students to name the categories: What
might they call this group of ideas? Why? Label the categories.
Are there other categories still needed? Why?
When the class web is complete, post it on a wall at the students’ eye level so that they can add to it throughout the unit.
Tape an envelope holding small circles next to it to allow students to write their new ideas on the circles and tape them
with the appropriate category on the web.
I used this web as a visual tool for the
whole unit and students enjoyed adding to it as they found out new things.
Independent or partner work based on learning profile.
Explain to the students that this new unit is about plants and
their needs. Tell them that they have already told you much
about what they know about plants and that now they will
have a chance to use what they already know to create something about plants on their own.
Here I used yet another pre-assessment (this time incorporating
Gardner’s multiple intelligences) to
help students show me what they
knew and to help them learn from
one another.
Students will choose one of the following options, and they
may work alone or with a partner of their choosing:
Giving students the option of working
alone or with a partner is an easy way
to incorporate choice.
Option 1: Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
Write a letter to a kindergartner telling as much as you can
about plants. What should every child know about plants?
What do you like about plants? Why?
These activities enabled me to
cover a lot of ground at the start
of the unit, and they invited many
“teachable moments” as we discussed
what the students already knew.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Option 2: Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Draw pictures of at least three different types of plants. Make
sure these plants look very different from one another. Label
as many of their parts as you can.
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Most of my students already knew the
basics about plants—and those who
didn’t generally picked them up by
the end of this lesson.
Option 3: Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
On a Venn diagram and using pictures and words, compare
and contrast plants and animals. What is the same about
them? What is different about them?
Option 4: Intrapersonal Intelligence
You are a plant. What does it feel like to grow? What do you
see around you? What do you like about being a plant? What
do you not like? Write and draw about your life as a plant.
When students have completed their chosen task, invite them
to share their products with their classmates.
Alphabet bag closure activity. Using a bag with each letter of
the alphabet included (these can be written on small cards or
can be small, manipulative letters), draw a letter out of the
bag and ask students to come up with sentences or statements about plants that begin with that letter. (For example,
“A = A plant needs water.” “D = Don’t forget to water a
plant.”) Make sure that the students understand this process,
as it will be used throughout the unit.
LESSON 2
This was a quick way to summarize
much of what we had discussed in
the lesson. I use this “alphabet bag”
approach frequently with my classes.
Working Like a Scientist
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Lesson preparation: Prior to this lesson, which uses learning
stations, write the instructions for each station on chart paper
to post around the room, and decide on four “resident
experts” who will help the students work successfully at the
stations. Make sure that these four students know exactly
what should happen at each station, and put one of them in
each group of students.
The “resident expert” approach is a
great one for helping students to work
successfully in small groups. It saves
me time in the long run and gives me a
chance to move among groups offering
guidance as needed. It also gives students a chance to take on some extra
responsibility in the classroom.
Over time, I give all students—with all
readiness levels—an opportunity to be
a resident expert; for this activity, however, I selected students who were
already reading so that they could read
the instructions to their groups.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Introduction to science skills. Invite the students to share
their ideas about “doing science” and highlight some skills
that they already have (for example, writing their names and
counting to 20).
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
This was a good place to relate the
lesson to the students’ interests and
abilities.
Ask: What skills do you think scientists need to have?
(Observing or seeing carefully, keeping records of what they
see, etc.) Record the students’ ideas on chart paper so that the
class can refer to them during the next lesson.
Science skill station rotations in mixed-ability groups. Tell
the students that they will be working at four different stations to practice the skills of science. Then place the students
in four mixed-readiness groups based on pre-assessment
information and reading proficiency. Remember to put one
resident expert in each group.
Explain the stations and their locations. The groups will spend
about four minutes in each station.
Before I use an activity like this one,
I make sure my students have practiced working in small groups (first
for short periods of time and then for
longer ones) and moving quickly
between activities. Time spent practicing these skills really pays off in the
long run!
Station 1: Observing
Each student will pick an apple out of a basket and look at it
closely. The students will put their apples back in the basket
and mix them up so that they don’t know where their apples
are. Then they will try to find their apples. What do they have
to do to find their apples?
I was careful to provide apples that
were very similar in appearance so
that the students had to examine
them closely to come up with
differences.
Station 2: Classifying
Given a collection of different shells, the students will put
them into groups. How can they put shells that are alike
together? How are the groups different from one another?
I gave the students a wide variety of
shells that differed in color, shape,
texture, and size. I also provided
small boxes for the students to use
for their groups of shells.
Station 3: Comparing and Contrasting
Given a collection of different rocks, the students will select
pairs of rocks and will tell how they are the same and how
they are different. Can they find two rocks that are very similar? Can they find two that are very different?
Again, I provided a wide variety of
rocks.
Station 4: Asking Questions
The students will ask questions about anything they are interested in. What would they like to know about animals? Outer
space? Volcanoes? One student (or an assistant or classroom
volunteer) will write the group’s questions on chart paper.
I made sure that the student writing
the questions also got to include his
or her own questions. Some adult
help here would have been very
welcome.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
50
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
As the groups work, move among the stations providing
assistance and cues as necessary.
I used this time to ask questions that
scaffold some students (“How do you
know that’s your apple?”) and stretch
others (“Why is it important to look
at things closely? Can you think of
jobs in which people need to do
this?”).
Discussion of science skills. Bring the students back together
for a large-group discussion to wrap up the lesson. Ask them
to explain what they did at each station. Explain the terms
observe, classify, compare, contrast, and question so that they
know what we call the skills they were working on.
I tried to ask students who I thought
would be reluctant to speak up about
their station activities (because they
had struggled with the activity or
because they generally don’t like to
speak up) to do so here. This ensured
their chance to share what they knew.
I then focused on more complex
questions that asked students to predict when they would use these skills.
I also asked questions designed to
help the students see that these are
skills they already use. My overall
goal was to help everyone realize how
these skills are useful.
Ask: When do you think you will need to use these skills as
we study plants? Do you think these are important skills to
have? Why? Have you ever used these skills before? When?
Why? What other skills might we need?
LESSON 3
Exploring Plant Needs
(5–7 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Science skills review. Begin by reviewing the science skills
you focused on in the previous lesson: observing, classifying,
comparing, contrasting, and questioning.
A quick review never hurts. This was
a good way to refocus the class.
Introductory discussion of human and plant needs. Explain
that today the class will begin looking at what plants need to
grow and be healthy.
Ask: What do you need to grow and be healthy?
As students share ideas, create a Needs Comparison Graphic
Organizer (see Sample 2.2, page 62) comparing people’s
needs to plants’ needs.
Ask: Do plants need the same things that people need to grow
and be healthy? How do we know what plants need? Is there
a way to prove it?
Whenever possible, I encourage my
students to relate personally to the
topic at hand.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
51
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Encourage students to discuss how to prove what plants
need. For example, how might we prove that plants need
light? Should we give one plant light? Why? How will we
know when a plant is not growing or is not healthy? What
will it look like?
I wanted the students to devise ways
to test plant needs. I also wanted
them to see that it would be important to grow a healthy plant so that
they would have something to compare an unhealthy plant to. They were
really working with the idea of a
“control group” here.
Small, mixed-readiness group experiments about plant
needs. Students will work in mixed-readiness groups of four
to complete an experiment of their choosing. Every group will
follow the same instructions and fill out a Plant Needs Group
Experiment Planning Sheet (see Sample 2.3, page 63) but
they will focus on different plant needs. The groups will
choose from the following: light, water, air, soil, and fertilizer.
Tell the students that each group will be given two plants to
work with and a Plant Needs Group Experiment Observation Sheet (see Sample 2.4, page 64).
Because the experiment required students to work in small groups for several days, I created the groups based
on who I thought would and would
not work well together. I did provide
some interest-based differentiation in
that I asked each group to choose the
need that they wanted to investigate.
If any needs were “left over,” I set
those experiments up myself. It was
important to me that students worked
with something they were interested
in, and these experiments did not take
too much time to set up.
Post the experiment instructions for all to see:
I gave the groups a checklist of the
instructions so that students could
check off steps as they completed
them. Some groups needed this while
others didn’t.
1. Choose the plant need that you want to prove.
2. Make a list of the materials that you will need to carry out
your experiment.
3. Write what you are going to do to show that plants need
what you have chosen.
4. Check your experiment plan with your teacher.
5. Collect your materials.
6. Carry out your experiment.
7. Observe your plants for several days.
8. Draw and write about what you see happening to your plants.
Circulate among the groups to make sure that they understand what they are to do. You may have to ask questions,
such as “How will you give one plant light and not give it to
the other plant?” or “What are some things other than soil
that you can try to grow a plant in?”
I helped some groups choose the materials they would need—notably the
groups working with soil and air. I did
encourage the fertilizer group to use fertilizer sticks, which are easier and safer
than using powdered products.
My role in this activity was to observe
the students and step in with help
when necessary. Once the experiments were set up and the students
were recording their observations on
the forms I provided, I met with individuals or small groups who needed
review, a new way of learning ideas
or skills, or guidance toward more
advanced thinking.
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Be sure to provide a central location for materials that the students need. It may help to assign one person in each group
the job of collecting and returning materials: boxes, plastic
bags, potting soil, sand, and fertilizer sticks.
Centralizing materials is always a
good idea when you’re conducting
activities that require lots of supplies.
Allow time during the rest of the class periods devoted to this
lesson for students to examine their plants, record what they
are seeing (each group member should fill out his or her own
observation sheet), and share their findings with the large
group. Make sure students are recording their findings on the
correct day on their record sheets.
As the students worked to make
and record observations, I moved
among the groups asking questions
(“How are your plants different now?
Why do you think they are different?”) and giving feedback. My students really enjoyed the independence
of this activity, but again, I know it
helped that they had had lots of
practice working on their own and
in groups.
During large-group discussions, ask students to predict plant
needs based on the findings so far: Do you think plants need
soil? Why? What about fertilizer? Why?
Once the experiments were set up,
recording and discussing findings
took only a few minutes each day.
Jigsaw to share findings from group experiments. After several days, place the students in mixed-readiness Jigsaw groups
to share the findings from their experiments. Make sure that
there is at least one student from each original group in the
Jigsaw groups so that each possible plant need is represented.
What did the various groups find out? How did you find this
out?
Regrouping gave all students a
chance to share their findings. It also
gave them a sense of responsibility
for the activity. I circulated, offering
assistance as needed.
As a large group, discuss what plants need. Are some needs
more important than others? Why do you think so?
Summarizing as a large group ensured
that we covered any information that
may have fallen through the cracks
during the small-group discussions.
Independent or partner tasks based on readiness. Assign
each student to one of three tiered tasks to work on independently or in pairs. Make your readiness determination based on
pre-assessment activities, the notes you’ve taken on the students’ in-class performance during the previous lessons, and
ongoing assessment of reading and writing skills.
Some students tend to need to work
in more concrete ways while others
are able to think more abstractly.
Here, I used a tiered assignment to
address that range of readiness.
I’m careful not to assume that ESL
students always need to work on a
concrete level. Pairing them with
other students can allow them to
complete a more abstract activity
and get help with vocabulary.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
53
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Task 1 (Struggling Students)
You know someone who would like to grow a plant for a
plant competition. This person has never grown a plant
before. Write a list of everything this person should do to
grow a healthy plant that will win the competition.
The first task is the most concrete,
designed for students who would
benefit from restating the experiment
findings. These students may be
struggling with the vocabulary of
plants and their needs.
Task 2 (On-Target Students)
Is there something that plants might need that we did not
look at? Write about what that might be, and then write about
how you might find out whether or not plants really need it.
This activity is more open-ended and
invites some creative thinking as well.
Still, the structure is a familiar one,
similar to that of the group experiments.
Task 3 (Advanced Students)
You have found a plant that is not healthy, and you would like
to make it better. Write about how you will find out what it
needs and what you will do to make it healthier.
This activity is the most abstract,
requiring both analytical and practical
thinking. It requires students to apply
their understanding of plant needs in
determining what might be wrong
with the plant in the first place and to
consider how they might rule out
some possibilities.
Sharing of work. Provide time for the students to share what
they’ve done on their tasks with one another.
This was a chance for me to assess
my students’ grasp of the needs of
plants and to give them an opportunity to share their learning with the
class.
Alphabet bag closure activity. Draw another letter (or several) out of the alphabet bag and ask the students to come up
with sentences about plants that begin with the letter(s).
I like to use routines for review so
that the students know what to
expect and are more likely to be successful. I’ve found that routine is
especially important for my struggling
learners, who often benefit from
knowing what’s coming next and
what’s expected of them in terms of
the response format. With the alphabet bag, I sometimes add sentences of
my own to make sure we’re reviewing
the essential ideas.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON 4
IN
PRACTICE
Plant Parts and Their Jobs
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(4–5 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Review of plant needs. Open with a review-focused discussion: What parts of a plant help it meet its needs? What plant
parts are most important to plants? Why do you think so?
Another quick review. I wanted students’ predictions about which plant
part is the most important to set up
the next activities.
Lesson introduction and plant part interest survey. Explain
to the students that the class is going to begin an experiment
to look at plant parts and their importance. Tell them that the
experiment will continue over several class periods.
I designed this lesson, which combines an experiment and group
research, to present a lot of information about plant parts. I also wanted
students to apply the science skills
(observing, comparing, contrasting)
that they practiced earlier in the unit.
Explain that at the same time, they will be working in groups
to research a specific plant part that they are interested in.
Pass out index cards and ask students to take one, write their
name on it, and write down two plant parts that they want to
learn more about. List the following options on the board so
that students can copy them: stem, roots, leaves, flowers,
seeds. Explain that you’ll be announcing their research group
assignment once you’ve had a chance to take a look at their
preferences.
Because I had already differentiated
by readiness and learning profile
and because I wanted my students
to be engaged with their research, I
grouped them based on their interests. I asked them to provide their
top two choices of plant parts so
that I had some flexibility in creating the groups. In every classroom,
there are some students who do not
work well together because either
they don’t get along well or because
they distract one another. I wanted
to create groups of students who
had similar interests and would be
productive.
Plant part experiment setup. Kick off the experiment by
leading a whole-class examination of the parts of pansies.
Give small, random groups of four students one pansy and
ask them to find the stem, the leaves, and the flowers. Where
are the roots? Where are the seeds?
Now take back each of the pansies and tell the students that
you are going to remove one part from each pansy, leaving
one pansy whole. Pause to ask them why they think you’re
leaving one pansy whole: What will we learn by doing this?
What do you think will happen if I remove all of the leaves on
a pansy? What if I remove the roots? How is the work we are
doing like the work a scientist does?
Again, I wanted my students to make
some predictions. I was hoping they
would know the answer to this after
our previous work with plant needs!
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
55
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Carefully cut away parts (roots, stem, leaves, flowers) and
replant and water each pansy, asking students to suggest reasons why you’re watering the plants. Be sure to label each
pansy to show what part it is missing.
Ask: Will all of the plants live and grow? Why do you think
so? Which plants will live the longest? Why?
The students will observe a pansy of their choice for several
days and record what they notice on the Plant Part Experiment Observation Sheet (see Sample 2.5, page 65).
It’s important for students to have a
way to show their observations. Here,
I set up a simple chart to provide the
structure that young children often
need.
Small-group research and product assignments based on
interest. Put the students into the small, interest-based,
mixed-readiness groups you created. There should be no more
than four students in each group; you may need to create
more than one small group per plant part, depending on the
interest information you find in the students’ surveys.
As mentioned previously, I grouped
the students based on their interests
rather than on readiness or learning
profile.
Tell the students that sometimes, scientists must be detectives.
For the upcoming activity, they will be detectives seeking
information about plant parts. Their job will be to teach their
classmates what they learn.
Provide several books about plants and their parts (see Sample 2.6 on page 66 for some suggestions), and make sure to
audiotape some of the books for students who are not yet able
to read for information.
I made sure to provide books on different reading levels. Providing books
on tape ensured that struggling readers and auditory learners could participate fully in the activity.
Explain to the students that they must work together to complete their research and that all group members will be
responsible for contributing to four product assignments. List
the following directions for all to see:
I encouraged the groups to do their
research (reading and listening)
together so that they could discuss
what they were learning.
Product 1
Make a small poster of different examples of your plant part.
You may either draw pictures yourself or cut examples from
magazines and catalogs.
I designed these product assignments
to draw on different skills, so that
each group member could make a
valuable contribution to the group’s
work. I knew that I wanted all of the
groups to create a written product
(the letter), and I wanted to make
sure the other products called for
skills other than writing. Accordingly,
Product 2
Create a list of the great things about your plant part. Include
at least three ideas on your list.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Product 3
How does your plant part help the plant meet its needs? List
two ways that it works to help the plant.
Product 4
As a group, write a thank-you letter from a plant to your plant
part. What would a plant say to your plant part to show it is
glad to have it?
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
the poster draws on creative and
visual skills and the lists draw on
thinking skills (pulling together all the
information learned) without relying
too heavily on verbal (writing) skills.
Although I encouraged group members to work together to create the
products, I did notice that students
were drawn to particular ones based
on their learning profiles and abilities.
Sharing of group products. When the research groups have
completed their products, provide time for them to share the
products with the whole class.
Experiment and research wrap-up. Conclude the plant part
experiment by examining the pansies. What has happened to
each pansy without specific parts? Which plants are healthy?
Which ones are not? Why? Do students think the same things
would happen if the class did this experiment again? Why?
Why might scientists repeat an experiment?
During this large-group discussion, I
wanted to ensure that my students
understood what had happened during the experiment. I also wanted to
make sure that many different students could respond during the discussion. Thus, I asked questions
ranging from ones that focused on
the students’ observations to ones
that asked them to consider what
might happen if we repeated the
experiment.
Remind the students that they have learned a lot about plant
parts from the different research groups and by observing the
changes in the pansies. Now, ask them to vote on which plant
part they believe is the most important to a plant.
My students like to vote and give
their opinions about a wide range of
topics. Here, I gave them chance to do
so . . . and to practice evaluative
thinking.
Turn the discussion to what would happen to plants if they
had no flowers. Make sure that the students understand that
flowers make seeds and plants would die out without them.
I took time to discuss flowers explicitly because my students sometimes
have a hard time understanding why
flowers are important to plant survival.
Ask: What would happen to a plant if one part could not do
its job? What can you compare that to?
Lead students to see that plant parts must all work together to
help the plant survive and be healthy, and help them see how
this might work in their own lives (for example, people work
together at home and in school to help one another, the
home, and school).
I presented examples here to help students make a personal connection to
what they were learning.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
57
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Alphabet bag closure activity. Repeat the alphabet bag activity, encouraging students to create sentences about plant
parts.
LESSON 5
Review
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Round robin brainstorming review in small, mixedreadiness groups. Begin with a review of what the students
learned during the previous lesson. Write each plant part
(stem, roots, leaves, flowers, seeds) on a separate piece of
chart paper and post the chart paper around the room.
Round robin activities get students up
and moving and allow them to learn
from one another. I used this one to
give the students a chance to recall
what they had learned about plant
parts.
Place the students in five mixed-readiness groups, making
sure that each group has at least one member from each of
the plant part research groups.
Having each research group represented in the round robin groups
ensured that at least one student in
each group had a deep understanding
of each of the plant parts.
Ask the groups to choose a recorder (a person who will do the
writing for the group) and give each recorder a different color
marker. Tell the groups that they are to write what they know
about the plant parts on chart paper.
Choosing a recorder up-front ensured
that the groups didn’t spend time
arguing about who would write at
each piece of chart paper. Some
groups opted to have two recorders
who took turns.
The groups begin at different pieces of chart paper posted
around the room and rotate so that they visit each piece one
time. When they come to a paper that already has ideas, they
should read the ideas that are there and add to them. The
groups spend about three minutes at each “station.”
As with all round robin activities, I
kept the rotations quick so that the
students didn’t have time to get off
task.
When all of the groups have brainstormed ideas about all of
the plant parts, review the students’ ideas as a whole group
and add to the chart paper as needed: “Is there anything else
we need to add about seeds? What about roots?” Point out the
connections between the different parts.
Here, we checked and revised ideas as
needed. I didn’t want my students to
have any misunderstandings at this
point in the unit.
The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed video. Show Scholastic’s
The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed. Explain to the students
that some of the information in the video will not be new to
them.
My students enjoy the Magic School
Bus videos, which are filled with good
information. Plus, many of my visual
learners pick up information effectively from videos.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Encourage them to listen closely for new information, and tell
them that they will have an assignment to do after the video
is over.
I warned students that an assignment
was coming to encourage them to
focus on the information in the video.
3–2–1 closure activity independently or in pairs. Use this
activity to summarize the video. Write the following on the
board and go over it with the students before they begin their
work:
3–2–1 is a quick way to summarize
just about any information. It worked
well here as an assessment of student
understanding.
Tell me . . .
• Three new ideas you got from the video.
• Two things you already knew.
• One thing you can do to meet the needs of plants.
Allow the students who wish to complete the activity with a
partner to do so. When the students have finished their work,
ask for volunteers to share their ideas.
Working in pairs can result in better
ideas, but I let my students choose
whether they wanted to work with
someone else or not. In an activity
like this, I sometimes pair struggling
writers with students who are able to
write, but when I do so, I’m careful to
ensure that both students are sharing
their ideas.
As the students worked, I offered
assistance to those who needed it.
LESSON 6
Unit Assessment
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Three assessment tasks. Explain to the students that this
activity is made up of three parts and that they are to work on
each part alone (without help from others). Provide each student with the three tasks:
Although I did not tell my students
that they were being “tested,” I did
encourage them to show me what
they knew about plants.
Task 1
Using a diagram of a plant (this should be included on the
sheet), label each plant part.
The first task is a simple recall that I
felt certain my students could complete successfully.
Task 2
Imagine you are a plant part. Write a letter to another plant
part telling it why you are more important than it is.
The second task asks students to
apply their understanding of plant
parts and their roles while having to
use evaluative thinking.
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
59
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Task 3
Pretend that you are going to plant a garden at school. What
will you need to plant your garden and take care of it? How
can you make sure that your plants will be healthy? Make a
list of everything that you will need to do.
The third task also invites application,
but here, students have to focus on
the needs of plants.
Allow the students to spread out around the room so that
they have ample space to work and think quietly. They
may complete the three parts in any order they wish. As
they finish, encourage them to work quietly on the plant
anchor activities.
Combined, these three tasks
addressed my unit objectives
and gave me a good indication of
how well my students had mastered
them.
Provide scaffolding for selected students, as necessary.
To help my struggling writers complete the assessment successfully, I
provided a sheet listing the names
of the plant parts we’d covered and
a template for a letter. Students who
needed this assistance could simply
copy the plant part names onto the
diagram and the letter template. I
also allowed them to draw in
response to Task 3. With these modifications, they could show me what
they had come to understand about
plants without being penalized for
weaknesses that had little to do
with my unit objectives. I also met
with individuals or small groups
who needed assistance completing
the task.
Whole-group acrostic activity. After all of the students
have finished the unit assessment, bring the whole group
together for unit closure activity: creating an acrostic using
the words “PLANT NEEDS.”
This activity provided a final opportunity for the students to work together
and share ideas during this unit. It
was a quick and easy way to end our
study of plants and plant needs.
The students come up with words and phrases that draw on
what they have learned about plants and their needs. If they
would like to, they can also create a “PLANT PARTS” acrostic.
Post the acrostic(s) in the classroom.
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Teacher Reflection on the Unit
Teaching this unit is always great fun. The hands-on activities give my students a chance
to really work as scientists. Even when things don’t go as planned (such as when a plant
lives or dies when it “shouldn’t”), my students learn about “doing science.” An added
bonus of focusing on science is that young children are really natural scientists, and even
my most struggling learners can participate in unit activities—and grow from having
done so. I’ve found that by giving the students a say in what they will learn about, I can
improve the chances that each of them will participate in and benefit from the unit activities. The closure activities give me a sense of who’s getting it and who’s still working on
developing understanding. This unit helps me deal with the reality that my students bring
a range of prior knowledge and experience to the classroom.
Caroline Cunningham Eidson has taught elementary and middle school students in Virginia and
North Carolina. She can be reached at [email protected]
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
SAMPLE 2.1— Suggested Plant Anchor Activities
• Make an ABC list of plants. Use books in the classroom to find the names of plants that begin with each
letter of the alphabet.
• Create a collage of plants or flowers. Label the plants and flowers if you know their names.
• Draw and label plants that we can eat. Which do you like to eat?
• Draw and label plants that we cannot eat. Why can’t we eat these?
• Design a garden. How big will your garden be? What will you put in it? Why?
• Create riddles or jokes about plants and their parts. Try them out on your classmates.
• Measure the plants in the classroom, and make a graph showing their heights. Which is the tallest plant?
Which is the shortest one? Do you think that will change? Why?
• Write a song about plants, what you like about them, and why they are important.
• Design a new kind of plant or flower. What is special about it? How is it different from other plants or
flowers?
• Bring in a collection of leaves from home and make a booklet of leaf rubbings. Label the types of
leaves if you know them, and look up and label any types that you don’t know.
• Make up your own plant activity and ask your teacher if it’s okay to do it!
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SAMPLE 2.2— Needs Comparison Graphic Organizer
What We Need to Be Healthy
What Plants Need to Be Healthy
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
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SAMPLE 2.3— Plant Needs Group Experiment Planning Sheet
Group members
We are going to prove that plants need
.
These are the materials that we need for our experiment:
:
This is what we are going to do to prove that plants need
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
This is what we think is going to happen to our plants:
This is what did happen to our plants:
Conclusion: Do plants need
?
(Circle one)
YES
NO
?
Drawing:
Observations:
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Possible Causes:
Day 2
Drawing:
Day 1
Possible Causes:
Possible Causes:
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 5
IN
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 4
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 3
Directions: Each day, draw and write about what your plant looks like and how it has changed. What do you think is causing the
changes?
Group Members
Do Plants Need
SAMPLE 2.4— Plant Needs Group Experiment Observation Sheet
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PRACTICE
❏ Leaves
❏ Flowers
❏ Roots
Drawing:
Observations:
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Possible Causes:
Day 2
Drawing:
Day 1
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 3
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 4
Possible Causes:
Observations:
Drawing:
Day 5
Directions: Every day, draw and write about what your plant looks like and how it has changed. What do you think is causing the
changes?
❏ Stem
The plant I am observing has no (check one box)
SAMPLE 2.5— Plant Part Experiment Observation Sheet
U N I T 2 : W H AT P L A N T S N E E D
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SAMPLE 2.6— Recommended Books About Plants
All About Seeds by Susan Kuchalla
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
A First Look at Leaves by Millicent Selsam and Joyce Hunt
A Flower Grows by Ken Robbins
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
From Seed to Sunflower by Gerald Legg
How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan
I Wonder Why Trees Have Leaves, and Other Questions About Plants by Andrew Charman
The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book About How Living Things Grow by Joanna Cole
Plants That Never Ever Bloom by Ruth Heller
The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller
Roots Are Food Finders by Franklyn Branley
A Seed Grows: My First Look at a Plant’s Life Cycle by Pamela Hickman and Heather Collins
Seeds, Pop, Stick, Glide by Patricia Lauber
Stems by Gail Saunders-Smith
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
What Is a Plant? by Bobbie Kalman
Your First Garden Book by Marc Brown
3
We’re All in It Together
A Social Studies Unit on Needs,
Wants, and Community Helpers
Unit Developer: Jennifer Ann Bonnett
Introduction
This three- to four-week social studies unit opens with a review of the basics about
what a community is and then, through a variety of hands-on activities, delves into
the concept of interdependence within a community. It helps students to develop
an understanding of people’s interactions within a community, their community
responsibilities, and the ways in which they help others in a community.
After a brief look at what students already understand about a community, they
move to discovering the importance of each person’s role within a community and
begin to role-play and explain interdependence. Skills emphasized include writing
persuasively and using community resources. Through a learning contract related to
communities, students practice newly acquired skills, use community terminology,
and apply unit concepts in ways that match their interests and learning styles. Some
literature is used as supplements to the lessons. Other selections can be substituted
easily for the ones cited.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
With this unit, I wanted to build on my students’ existing knowledge about communities and about the town in which they live. I knew that most of my students could
tell me where to find the best pizza in town or where to watch a college basketball
game; however, they seemed to lack an understanding of how important people are
to a community and the ways in which people can work together to meet a community’s needs and wants. My goal was to create a unit that focused on the curriculum
goals while acquainting my students with their town’s resources. I realized that I
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could accomplish this in several ways. I decided to incorporate tiered assignments, cooperative learning, multiple intelligences, and (because writing is a focus in my curriculum)
differentiated writing assignments.
Social Studies Standards Addressed
•
•
•
•
Distinguish between needs and wants.
Distinguish between goods produced and services provided in a community.
Describe similarities and differences.
Identify roles people perform within their families and their communities.
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Interdependence (main concept), Goods and Services, Resources, Needs and Wants,
System
• Interdependence requires more than one role to be present.
• With interdependence, each role is important.
• In an interdependent system, failure of a role to function properly impacts all other
roles.
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• Places within a community.
• Roles within a community.
• Community vocabulary including role, need, want, goods, services, products, business, and resources.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• People have needs and wants that are met by the different roles within a community.
• Different roles provide for a community in different ways.
• Each role is important to the functioning of a community.
• Without certain roles, a community may suffer.
• All people in a community are part of a system in which a change in one part can
impact other parts.
• All people have a responsibility to cooperate in order for a community to run effectively.
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Explain the different components of a community.
• Compare, contrast, and evaluate community roles.
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
IN
IT TOGETHER
69
Draw conclusions.
Work cooperatively.
Work independently.
Write a letter.
Write a set of directions.
Use a telephone book.
Analyze a problem.
Identify and describe one’s own role in a community.
Write and/or speak persuasively.
Role-play.
Instructional Strategies Used
• Differentiated writing prompts
• Learning contracts differentiated
by readiness
• Simulations
• Think–Pair–Share
• Gardner’s multiple intelligences
• RAFT activity options
• Sternberg’s triarchic intelligences
• Tiered assignments
Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
3.1
Differentiated Community Learning
Contracts
Community Helper Cause-and-Effect
Graphic Organizer
Community RAFT Activity Options
87
3.2
3.3
93
94
Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
Introduction
1 class period
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
Whole-group examination of
community pictures
10 minutes
Community pictures pre-assessment
activity in small, mixed-readiness
groups
15 minutes
Concluding discussion
10 minutes
DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
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LESSON
LESSON 2
Who? What?
Where?
1 class period
LESSON 3
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WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
Thinking map activity in
mixed-readiness (random) groups
25 minutes
Concluding discussion
10 minutes
Needs simulation activity in
mixed-readiness (random) groups
20 minutes
Discussion of needs simulation
activity
10 minutes
Needs, Wants,
and Unequal
Resources
Tiered writing prompts based on
readiness
20 minutes
Sharing of written responses and
discussion of needs versus wants
15 minutes
Independent or partner work on tasks
based on Sternberg's triarchic
intelligences
1–2 class periods
3–4 class periods
LESSON 4
Product sharing and closure activity
15 minutes
Review of needs and wants and introduction of community resources
10 minutes
Reading and discussion of Roxaboxen
20 minutes
Roxaboxen
Tiered activities based on
readiness
30 minutes
1–2 class periods
Product sharing and related discussion in small, mixed-readiness groups
15 minutes
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
IN
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LESSON
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
LESSON 5
Think–Pair–Share: Community helpers
10 minutes
DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
Interview tasks based on readiness
and learning profile
1–2 class periods
Interviewing a
Community
Helper
Products from interviews based on
Gardner's multiple intelligences
1–2 class periods
Product sharing and discussion
15 minutes
Tiered writing prompts based on
writing and thinking skills readiness
30 minutes
5–6 class periods
LESSON 6
Sharing and discussion of written
responses
20 minutes
Interdependence simulation activity
20–25 minutes
Pair work on cause and effect based
on student choice
15–20 minutes
A Kinesthetic
Simulation
1 class period
Discussion of unit generalizations
5 minutes
Independent completion of RAFT
activities based on learning profile
and Gardner's multiple intelligences
45–50 minutes
LESSON 7
Concluding
Activity
1 class period
LESSON 8
Unit
Assessment
1 class period
Independent completion of unit final
assessment questions
45–50 minutes
Modifications made as needed for
struggling learners
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Community Learning Contracts
Prior to beginning the unit, introduce the appropriate form of this unit’s ongoing component, the Differentiated Community Learning Contract (Sample 3.1, beginning on page
87), to small groups of students based on readiness. Learning contracts allow students to
learn terms, concepts, and skills at their own pace—and for this reason, they’re a valuable tool in a differentiated classroom. Learning contracts are also a great way to manage
time, as they work well as anchor activities: meaningful and engaging tasks students can
turn to when they finish their regular lesson work “early” or during independent work
times when they are wondering what to do. When students have work that engages
them, their teacher is free to coach students individually and in small groups as needed.
The learning contracts in this unit are differentiated by readiness and color-coded
accordingly. The first contract (RED) is designed for students who are working at a basic
level and need practice with the unit’s terminology and skills. These may be students
who struggle with language (English language learners or students with learning disabilities in the area of language) or who struggle with producing work independently. The
RED contract is also easily adapted to address the IEP goals of students with learning
challenges. It may be necessary to meet individually with these students to guide their
contract work and to enlist the help of special educators.
The second contract (BLUE) is designed for students who have a good grasp of the
unit’s main terms, concepts, and skills and are ready to work with them at a more challenging level. These students think at high levels and generally work well independently.
If you have students who are advanced in knowledge but not yet skilled at working independently, you can support their independence by presenting parts of the BLUE contract
one at a time, using a timeline with frequent check-in dates, enlisting the support of parents, and helping students set and monitor daily contract goals.
Teacher Reflection on Managing Students’ Work
with Learning Contracts
I introduce students to the appropriate form of the Differentiated Community Learning
Contract when they are engaged in quiet independent work. I simply pull groups aside for
a quick discussion—a process I find much easier (and vastly more effective) than trying
to explain both contracts to the whole group.
I use learning contracts frequently in my classroom because they help me manage
time, and they are an effective way to respond to my students’ varying needs. I also find
that contracts can be a good way to inject some creativity into my students’ day. Often, I
must spend so much time making sure that my students have the basics that it’s nice to
have the chance to give them something a little bit more open and original. The most difficult part of using contracts comes at the start: finding and selecting or creating activities
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
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73
that will engage my students’ interests and give them a good, but “doable,” challenge.
I’ve learned that if I plan the contract activities correctly, my students find them engaging,
and after some initial practice with working independently, behavior is rarely a problem.
I allow students to work on their contract activities with others when I know that
doing so will invite success for them. Some of my students can and should work on their
own, while others really benefit from the input and assistance of others. When students
do work in pairs, I establish with them from the very beginning (and revisit as needed)
that both students must contribute to the completion of the contract tasks. Again, if I’ve
thought out my student pairings well, this isn’t usually an issue.
Once my students begin working on their contracts, my job is really all about observing them, providing feedback and assistance when they need it, and coaching each student for highest quality work. I can also use some of the times when students are working
on their contracts to teach small groups of students based on common needs. I find that
moving among the students as they work gives me multiple opportunities to interact with
them personally about their work, to probe their thinking, and to stretch them a bit further than they might go without some prodding. I provide checklists to those who need
the structure of checking tasks off as they complete them, and I encourage everyone to set
goals along the way. I also invite students to share their contract products with one
another both informally as they finish them and formally at set times during our week.
When they share their work, I ask the class to provide helpful feedback and to identify
strengths. I also ask students to consider what they like about their own work, what they
might change about it, and how they would do it differently in the future.
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Introduction
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Whole-group examination of community pictures. Begin
the lesson by showing pictures of communities from around
the world. (Use social studies texts, magazines, photographs,
etc.) Kick off the discussion by focusing on what the students
notice in the pictures.
Ask: What are the people doing in the pictures? Where do
they live? Have you ever done anything like what they are
doing? Is this something you think all people do? Why? Does
this remind you of anything you have ever seen before? How?
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
I started with this activity to engage
students in drawing conclusions
about people from around the world.
I purposefully chose pictures that
showed people working together or
interacting in some other way and
tried to steer the discussion toward
ideas about communities (people
being and working together, helping
one another).
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Community pictures pre-assessment activity in small,
mixed-readiness groups. Next, break the class into small
groups of three to four students. Distribute one picture of a
community scene to each group. Using a round robin format,
each student in the group will write a descriptive sentence
about what is happening in the group’s picture.
I used mixed-readiness groups so that
my students could learn from one
another and help each other with the
writing aspect of this activity.
While students work, move among the groups, taking notes
on what students are saying,
This was an informal pre-assessment
of the students’ understandings about
communities.
Concluding discussion. Have the groups share their picture
and sentences with the class. Then ask the students to discuss
similarities that the all groups observed in the scenes. What
big statements can they make about communities based on
their pictures?
Again, the goal here was to have the
students learn from each other.
Throughout the discussion, I drew on
the cultural differences in my classroom by asking leading questions
like, “How is your family or neighborhood similar to what is going on in
this picture?”
Post the unit generalizations so that all can see them. Ask
students if they agree or disagree with the statements. Why?
How do the pictures support their arguments?
I took notes about my students’ thinking and kept the unit generalizations
posted throughout the unit so that we
could refer back to them often.
LESSON 2
Who? What? Where?
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: Prior to this lesson, write each of the following questions on two index cards (you should have total of six cards):
• Who lives in a community?
• What things do you see in a community?
• Where can you go in a community?
Thinking map activity in mixed-readiness (random)
groups. Divide the class into six groups. Give each group one
11" x 18" piece of light-colored construction paper and one of
the “question” index cards.
I designed this activity to highlight
the range of people and places a community contains.
Tell the groups to glue the index card onto the middle of
their construction paper. The groups will answer their
questions by creating thinking maps using only magazines
and newspapers.
Incidentally, thinking maps are great
activities for visual learners!
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
As the groups work, circulate among them so that you can listen to the students’ ideas, monitor their behavior, and do
some informal assessment of their knowledge of basic terms
and understandings about communities.
I reinforced students and groups who
were working well and asked some
probing questions: “Why are you cutting that out? Do you think that might
fit better with another group? Why?”
Concluding discussion. When all groups have completed
their work, hang the thinking maps in the classroom and lead
a whole-group discussion about them.
Once again, the discussion format
gave my students a chance to listen to
and learn from each other.
Ask: What do we know about communities now? What do
you think are the most important parts of communities? Why
do you say so?
LESSON 3
Needs, Wants, and Unequal Resources
(3–4 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Needs simulation activity in mixed-readiness (random)
groups. Divide the class into four groups. Each will receive an
envelope with their group number on it containing specific
materials. All of the groups will lack materials that they will
need, and some will have more of a particular material than
they need. Here is the distribution list:
I adapted this activity from the California Council for Social Studies Sunburst, February 1984, as I knew my
students would enjoy its hands-on
focus. It also reinforced the idea that
people in a community often have to
work together to meet their needs.
• Group 1: Two pairs of scissors, 20 paper clips, 2 pencils,
and 1 piece of white construction paper.
• Group 2: One glue stick, two sheets of green construction paper, two sheets of brown construction paper, and
two sheets of blue construction paper
• Group 3: Three pieces of white construction paper, one
sheet of green construction paper, one sheet of brown
construction paper.
• Group 4: One pair of scissors, one piece of blue construction paper, one ruler.
All groups will complete the same series of tasks. Display the
tasks on an overhead and/or distribute a copy to each group:
• Food: Make four strips of green paper, each four inches
long.
• Clothing: Make a blue “T-shirt.”
• Shelter: Make a white square and attach a brown triangle
to one side.
• Education: Make a four-page book using two different
colors.
• Interdependence: Make a four-link paper chain using four
different colors.
The frustration the students felt when
they realized they didn’t have all the
materials they needed to complete the
tasks led them to find ways to solve
their “problems”—illustrating our unit
concept of interdependence.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Observe the students as they interact, and note ways in which
they demonstrate cooperation and interdependence.
I circulated around the room to
keep students on task and provide
feedback. When groups seemed
stuck, I asked cueing questions:
“What do you do when you don’t
have something you need?” “What’s
the best way to get something you
need?”
Once the students have completed their tasks, distribute the
following discussion questions and give the groups time to
talk about them.
1. Could you have completed your tasks without getting materials from another group?
2. How did your group adapt to not having all of the materials
you needed?
3. Were there conflicts between groups? Why?
4. Which group finished first? Why?
5. Were there differences in the ways the groups finished their
tasks? Why?
Discussion of needs simulation activity. Allow the small
groups to share some of their responses to the discussion
questions. How does this activity relate to communities? What
can we conclude about communities?
This was a good place to take a look
back at the unit generalizations:
“Which big ideas have we worked
with today? How do you know?”
Encourage students to use the terms needs and resources as
they discuss their group work and observations.
Tiered writing prompts based on readiness. Assign students
to one of the following writing prompts. Students will answer
their prompts independently.
Tiering these prompts enabled me to
address different readiness levels. I
assigned prompts based on the students’ ability to apply the lesson’s
ideas beyond our classroom. Note
that I didn’t automatically assign ESL
or LD students to Prompt 1.
Prompt 1 (Lower Readiness)
What are some needs that you have in the classroom? For
instance, what do you need to get your work done? Do you
always have everything that you need? How are your needs
met in the classroom?
I assigned this prompt to concrete
thinkers not yet ready to apply ideas
more broadly. The classroom is a very
familiar place—one that students are
usually very comfortable talking
about.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Prompt 2 (Higher Readiness)
What are some needs that your family has? Where does your
family go to make sure those needs are met? Who helps your
family meet its needs?
This second, more challenging
prompt was designed for students
who need more abstract application.
It asks students to transfer their
understanding beyond our immediate
environment. Here, they were not just
thinking about themselves, but about
their families.
Sharing of written responses and discussion of needs versus wants. Allow the students to share their writing with
partners.
This gave the students a chance to
add to their own ideas by listening to
others.
Then ask the whole group to reflect upon what they identified
as needs. Are some of their needs really wants? What’s the
difference between the two? Can something be both a need
and a want? Create a class list of needs and wants and post it
in the classroom.
The difference between needs and
wants can be a difficult concept for
elementary-age children. I wanted to
address it directly.
Independent or partner work on tasks based on Sternberg’s
triarchic intelligences. Students will select one of the following tasks to complete either independently or with a partner:
I used Sternberg’s theory here
because I like to vary my approach as
much as possible and because it provides different ways for students to
examine needs and wants and their
roles in our lives.
Task 1: Practical Intelligence
Create an advice column for people who don’t understand the
difference between needs and wants. Write their letters to you
(at least three) as well as your answers back to them. The
people writing to you really need your help because they are
confusing their needs and their wants. Make sure that your
advice to them is clear and useful.
Task 2: Analytical Intelligence
Make your own personal lists of needs and wants. What are
your needs and wants? How do you know the difference?
Include at least five things on each list. Then order the items
on your lists from most important to least important. What is
your most important need? Most important want? Write an
argument that explains why you ranked your needs and
wants the way you did.
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IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Task 3: Creative Intelligence
Create a story about a person’s needs and wants. Who is this
person? What needs and wants does he or she have and how
are they met? What happens when they are not met? Make
your story original and funny. How you present your story is
up to you.
Product sharing and closure activity. Provide time for the
students to share their products with their classmates. Then,
give each student an index card and tell the students to write
their names, two of their needs, and two of their wants on
their cards.
LESSON 4
Roxaboxen
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Review of needs and wants and introduction of community
resources. Begin the lesson by telling the students that today
they will discover more about communities. Review the terms
need and want. Share some of the students’ responses from
the index cards (Lesson 3) concerning their needs and wants.
Ask: How might you get what you need or want? Where
would you go in the community to meet this need or want?
Who in the community might be able to meet your need?
Your want?
This quick way of assessing whether
or not the students understood the
difference between needs and wants
also allowed them to relate to these
concepts personally. After this activity, I met with some students individually or in small groups to provide
further coaching on this concept.
(1–2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
As often as possible, I like to use the
students’ ideas as “teachable
moments.” Here, I began to connect
the previous lesson on needs and
wants with the idea of community
resources, using our community as
the prime example.
Point out that communities have resources that are used to
meet people’s needs and wants—for example, their need for
health care.
Ask: What resources in our community provide health care?
(Hospitals, doctors and nurses, etc.) What other community
resources can you think of that meet our particular wants and
needs?
Make sure that the students understand that both places and
people can be community resources.
Reading and discussion of Roxaboxen. Read Alice
McLerran’s Roxaboxen aloud for the group, and then discuss
the book with the class.
This book is a great one for exploring
the idea of community.
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Ask: Is Roxaboxen a community? Why? What community
resources did the children create in Roxaboxen? What do you
like about Roxaboxen? What would you change about it?
I asked my students questions that
were open-ended enough to invite a
range of possible responses. I wanted
them to respond to the story on a personal level before they began their
independent or small-group work.
Tiered activities based on readiness. All students will work
with the idea that needs in a community are met by particular
resources. Assign students to one of the following tasks:
I knew my students had different
readiness levels (based on formal
measures such as tests and informal
ones such as discussions) with regard
to understanding and responding to
literature, and that to engage and
challenge them all, I needed to allow
them to approach this lesson’s concept in different ways. Thus, tiered
assignments were in order.
Task 1 (Struggling Learners)
You will work as a group with the teacher to reread and discuss the story. Then you will complete a chart showing community resources in Roxaboxen and the needs those resources
meet.
This first task is concrete and structured. I led the discussion and then
provided guidance and prompt questions as needed.
Task 2 (On-Target Learners)
The children in the story worked hard to create different community resources in Roxaboxen, but did they find a way to
meet all the needs of all the people? Make a list of at least five
needs that are not met in Roxaboxen, and then explain how
those needs might be met in the community. What else do the
children need to create? You may work alone or with a partner
to complete this assignment.
The second task is appropriate for
learners who can grasp the story and
work without direct assistance.
Although it’s more open-ended than
the first task, the product format (a
list) provides a degree of structure.
Task 3 (Advanced Learners)
The community in Roxaboxen was created by children. What
if it had been created by adults? Would it have the same community resources and community places? Find a way to show
your classmates what Roxaboxen might have looked like if it
had been created by adults instead of children. What different
things would you find in the community? You will work in
pairs to complete this task. Be ready to explain your work and
your thinking.
The third task is the most abstract
and open-ended of the three assignments, requiring students to compare
the perspectives of children and
adults to determine differences in
their needs. Note that the product format is unspecified. I asked students to
work in pairs so that they could discuss and evaluate their thinking as
they prepared their products (a good
way to build metacognitive skills!).
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Product sharing and related discussion in small,
mixed-readiness groups. Students will meet in small groups
to share their work with one another and to discuss different
community resources. Do they know people who are community resources in their own community? What about some
places that are resources?
Sharing products in mixed-readiness
groups provides validation and reinforces the idea that everyone has
something important to contribute.
Here, I gave the groups specific
instructions on how to share their
work. I also moved among the groups
and posed questions to extend their
thinking.
LESSON 5
Interviewing a Community Helper
(5–6 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Think–Pair–Share: Community helpers. As a class and
using Think–Pair–Share, create a list of the roles that are filled
in a community (for example, grocer, florist, letter carrier).
Have students first think on their own, then discuss their
ideas with another student sitting next to them, and finally,
share their ideas with the whole group. Write their ideas on a
list and post the list of community helpers for all to see.
I find that the Think–Pair–Share format encourages a greater number of
student responses than simply using a
whole-group discussion format. It is
also more likely to encourage students
of a broad range of readiness levels to
participate actively. This would also
be a good time to discuss whether
roles are similar or dissimilar in other
cultures with which students might
be familiar.
Interview tasks based on readiness and learning profile.
When the students have added all of their ideas to the list, tell
them that they will be interviewing a community helper about
his or her role in the community.
I assigned students to particular interview tasks based on readiness. Then I
asked students to choose a product
option, allowing them to work in a
preferred modality.
All students must come up with interview questions and must
research a community helper of their choosing. Be sure to
provide books and Web sites at a variety of reading levels that
will help the students with their research.
Explain to students that they will be imagining what the community helper might say in response to a set of interview
questions.
As needed, I provided miniworkshops on interviewing skills
and gave the students the chance to
conduct practice interviews with
one another.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Students will work in assigned pairs based on their interest in
particular community helpers to create their imaginary interviews. In their pairs, they will collaborate to discuss possible
questions and to research how their community helpers
would respond to those questions.
Working with an English-speaking
partner is a good option for students
who might struggle with this activity
due to limited language skills and
experience.
When it comes time to prepare the interview questions, divide
students into two groups:
Some students didn’t know where to
begin with this task, while others had
a very clear idea of what they wanted
to find out. I worked with the first
group of students to help them generate interview questions and allowed
the second group to create questions
on their own.
• Group 1 will participate in a teacher-led brainstorming
session to create a list of good interview questions. Each
student in the group will select questions from this list.
• Group 2 will work independently, with each student creating his or her own interview questions.
Group 1 (Lower Readiness)
From the list of interview questions we brainstormed, choose
5 to 10 questions that you will pose to the community helper
you will be interviewing. Be ready to explain how you
decided which questions to use. How will your community
helper respond?
Some of the sample questions I provided included, “How did school prepare you for your job?” and “Who
helps you in your job?”
Group 2 (Higher Readiness)
Create a list of questions that you will ask your community
helper. What kinds of questions will tell you the most about
this person and his or her role in the community? How will he
or she respond to these questions? Your job is to make us see
why this person is important to a community.
I allowed some of the Group 2 students to work together to finalize
their questions. Although I’d like for
all of my students to be able to work
as independently as possible, I recognize that some students need more
support than others.
Products from interviews based on Gardner’s multiple
intelligences. Students in both groups will then create an
individual product demonstrating how the role of his or her
chosen community helper interacts with or affects other community roles. They will choose from the following product
options:
I designed these options to allow
students to choose products suited to
their different learning profiles. Due
to the nature of the interview assignment, all the product options also
draw on interpersonal intelligence.
Product Option 1: Visual/Spatial and Verbal/Linguistic
Intelligence
Create a poster that shows the community helper and how
he or she responded during the “interview.”
Product Option 2: Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Intelligence
Make an audiotape or videotape of your “interview.”
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Product Option 3: Musical Intelligence
Write and perform a song about the community helper,
based on your “interview.”
Product Option 4: Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Create a collage about the community helper based on the
“interview.”
Product sharing and discussion. Students will share their
products with the class. As they do so, invite the students to
further examine the specific role that a community helper
plays in their community. How does
provide for or help our community? What might happen if he
or she was no longer here or could not do his or her job?
This was another chance for the students to learn from one another.
Although I could have given my students all the information about different community helpers, the process of
conducting research and an interview
allowed each student to become an
“expert” about a specific community
helper. Plus, it’s a much more engaging approach.
Tiered writing prompts based on writing and thinking
skills readiness. Assign students one of the following persuasive writing prompts:
These readiness-based prompts provide all students with a chance to
evaluate the roles that community
helpers play, but acknowledge that
students’ writing abilities can vary
greatly. I coached students for quality
responses whatever their level of writing proficiency.
Prompt 1 (Lower Readiness)
Who do you think is the most important community helper?
Using the list we made in class, select one community helper
and come up with three reasons why he or she is the most
important person in the community. Write three sentences
that explain your thinking and that will persuade others to
agree with you.
The first prompt was designed for students who find writing sentences a
challenge.
Prompt 2 (Higher Readiness)
Who do you think is the most important community
helper? Give five reasons in a well-written and organized
paragraph for why you think the way that you do. Be
specific! And remember: You are trying to get us to agree
with you!
The second prompt is appropriate for
students who are able to put sentences together to create paragraphs.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Prompt 3 (Highest Readiness)
Some contributions to communities might be seen as more
important than others while other contributions might be
more creative. Choose a community helper whose role is
the most important and one whose role you think is the
most creative. Write a paper of more than one paragraph
that convinces others to agree with you.
The third prompt is more open-ended
and abstract than the first two, and it
requires strong writing skills. Sometimes I find I need to talk with the
students responding to this prompt
about what creativity is: “When is
something creative? When are you
being creative?”
Sharing and discussion of written responses. Allow the students to share their ideas with one another. How many stuis the most
dents think the
important community helper? Why? Is one community helper
really more important than all of the others? Are there any
that are less important? What might happen if a particular
community helper had to leave the community and his or her
role was left empty? For example, what if your community did
not have a vet? A plumber?
My goal for this discussion was to
help students pull together all that
that they had learned about community helpers and to invite evaluative
thinking.
Close the discussion by referring back to the unit generalizations about interdependence. Ask: Which ones have we
worked with during this lesson? How do you know?
I wanted to ensure that the students
incorporated the unit’s important
ideas.
LESSON 6
A Kinesthetic Simulation
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: For this lesson, write the names of community
helpers from Lesson 5’s class-generated list on slips of
paper. Add additional helpers if necessary until there
are the same number of “helper slips” as there are
students in the class.
Interdependence simulation activity. Introduce this lesson
by asking the students if they have any questions about the
previous lesson. Then put the slips of paper with community
helper names in a hat or bag and ask each student to draw
one name.
I knew that after the rigors of the previous lesson, my students would
appreciate a shorter activity that provides engagement through movement
and interaction. This is particularly
important for students who really
struggle with writing, for those who
don’t sit still easily, and for those who
learn best kinesthetically. This is a
great activity to do outside.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Next, have the students stand in a circle and put their hands
on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Tell them to
sit on the lap of the person behind them when you say “Go.”
Stress that all of the students must sit at the same time.
Once the students have mastered sitting without falling,
explain that as members of a community, each of them has
a particular role to play. Go around the circle and have
students say the name of the role they’re playing. Then
explain that you are going to tell them different stories and
that each of them must listen closely for their cue to “leave
the community.”
Provide scenarios that result in community helpers having to
leave the community or stop working. For example:
“Our town’s children’s doctor has gotten sick and must take
several weeks off from work. Children’s doctor, please leave
the community.”
When the student representing this role leaves the circle, the
rest of the group will find it’s much more difficult to accomplish the goal of sitting. Repeat this procedure several times
and then discuss what has been happening. Is there one role
in a community that could be removed without impacting the
community? Why or why not?
Pair work on cause and effect based on student choice. Students will work in pairs to create/fill in a Community Helper
Cause-and-Effect Graphic Organizer (see Sample 3.2, page
93) that shows what happens when a particular community
helper (of their choosing) can no longer play his or her role in
the community.
For this task, I allowed students to
choose the person they wanted to
work with because they had not been
able to do so in a while. I provided a
sample map-style graphic organizer to
encourage the students to think
broadly.
Discussion of unit generalizations. Wrap up the lesson by
looking once again at the unit generalizations.
Again, I brought the unit’s big ideas
to students’ attention and gave them
the chance to draw new conclusions
based on classroom activities.
Ask: Which generalizations do you agree with now? Why?
How does our group activity relate to the big ideas we’ve
been discussing?
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Concluding Activity
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(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Independent completion of RAFT activities based on learning profile and Gardner’s multiple intelligences. As part of
the assessment for this unit, students choose and complete
one of the Community RAFT Activity Options (see Sample
3.3, page 94). Explain to the students that they will work on
their products independently.
The RAFT activity options address
different learning profiles (the list and
set of directions focus on logical/
mathematical thinking while the letter
and the speech require verbal/linguistic skill) but do so at similar readiness
levels.
I asked the students to choose the
activity that would show their best
work and thinking.
Before students begin work, explain that their work will be
evaluated based on the following criteria:
I find that better work results when I
share the evaluation criteria with my
students before they begin.
• Accuracy regarding information about specific
community helpers
• Thoughtfulness
• Originality (Use your own ideas!)
• Neatness (Make a draft first!)
• Time in class spent wisely
LESSON 8
Unit Assessment
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Independent completion of unit final assessment questions.
Students will compete an assessment of what they have come
to understand throughout this unit. Questions on the assessment include the following:
This assessment is more structured
than the RAFT options in Lesson 7. I
wanted my students to try to transfer
what they had learned during this
unit to a situation we hadn’t discussed at great length. By focusing on
the school community, the students
could work with something they
knew well.
• How is our school a community?
• What needs are present in our school community?
• Who are some community helpers in our school community? What do they do?
• Choose two people in our school community. Explain
their roles in our school community and tell what
would happen to our school if they were no longer a
part of the community.
• How does our school community show interdependence?
I allowed students to write and draw
in response to the questions, and I
presented some students with only
one question at a time so that they
wouldn’t be overwhelmed by seeing
them all at once.
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Teacher Reflection on the Unit
Looking at communities through the concept of interdependence is interesting and challenging for me as a teacher. So is finding meaningful and responsive ways to connect students’ lives to the state curriculum. The first time my students began to make
connections between the ideas they were learning in these lessons and their lives outside
of our classroom and school, I knew the unit was a success. Each time I present this unit,
my students particularly enjoy the Community Learning Contract (they love making
choices!) as well as the many opportunities for group work. I’ve found that focusing on
my students’ interests and learning preferences leads to increased engagement for them
and greater insight for me: I’m able to learn a lot about them based on the choices that
they make.
Jennifer Ann Bonnett has degrees in general and special education and has taught elementary
students in Rhode Island and North Carolina. She can be reached at [email protected]
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SAMPLE 3.1— Differentiated Community Learning Contracts
Community Learning Contract (RED)
Read through the list of activities and choose three (or more!) to complete on your own. When you have
decided on the activities you would like to complete, please fill out, sign, and turn in the Learning Contract
Agreement at the end of this document.
You may work on your activities when you have finished work and when I give you time to do so in class.
You may also have to do some work outside of class, but I’d like for you to do most of your work in class.
I’ll ask you to share your work with your classmates, so be ready to do so!
❏ Name That Place!
Brainstorm 10 types of businesses that you would find in a community (for example, a grocery store, a
flower shop, a veterinarian’s office). Then use the Yellow Pages to find a specific business in our community
that fits each type. Make a list of the businesses and their phone numbers. Choose one of the businesses
and draw a picture of what you think might go on there during a typical day. Who works there? What tools
or objects do they use to do their jobs?
❏ Community Scavenger Hunt
Using all available resources, find 10 items on the following list. If the item asks you to find information
(such as the names and addresses of businesses or people or a certain kind of business), write it in next to
that item. When the item asks you to find a person, please ask him or her to sign your list next to the
appropriate item.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Person who sells a product.
Person who provides a service.
Person who has lived in our community for more than 20 years.
Street where you’d find the town hall.
Name and address of a museum.
Name and address of a bank.
A famous local landmark. Write in the name and, below,
what makes it famous.
Best pizza in town.
Best ice cream in town.
Name of a local park.
A busy street corner.
(
)
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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SAMPLE 3.1— (continued)
•
•
•
•
•
An Italian restaurant.
A Mexican restaurant.
A building that has been in the community for more than 50 years.
Name of the mayor.
Name of the police chief.
If you want to find more items, go for it! List everything you find and get signatures when appropriate.
❏ Community Survey/Poster
Survey your classmates to find out the following:
• Favorite restaurant.
• Favorite park.
• Favorite store.
First, decide how you will find out the information. Will you ask your classmates or will you create a written
survey to give to them? How will you keep track of their responses? Finally, make a poster that shows your
classmates’ favorite places in the community.
❏ Community ABCs
Make an ABC list about our community. Make sure that you have a place, business, or person’s name for
each letter of the alphabet.
❏ Under Construction
Using the Community software,* follow the directions to design a building for a community. Once you
have completed your building, print it out and write about why it is an important building for a community.
What is the name of the building? What makes it unique? How does it meet the needs of people living in a
community?
❏ Community Collage
Using photographs and pictures from magazines, newspapers, and the Internet, create a collage of at least
10 things that you think make our community special. Then, write a “museum sign” to go next to your
collage explaining what you have chosen to include in it and why.
*Stearns, P. H., & Nolan, S. (1998). Community Construction Kit [Computer Software]. Watertown, MA: Tom Snyder Productions.
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
IN
IT TOGETHER
89
SAMPLE 3.1— (continued)
Learning Contract Agreement
I,
, agree to work on the following activities (must
choose at least three from the list of options) during the Community unit:
1.
2.
3.
4.
I understand that my work will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
•
•
•
•
Neatness
Thoughtfulness
Accuracy of information
Originality (if appropriate)
I understand my contract work must be turned in by the following date:
.
I will work on the contract activities that I select during class time unless I first discuss with my teacher doing
something outside of class.
I agree to stay on task while working on my contract activities so that I do not distract others and so that I
can put forth my best effort.
Student’s Signature
Date
Teacher’s Signature
Date
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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SAMPLE 3.1— (continued)
Community Learning Contract (BLUE)
Read through the list of activities and choose three (or more!) to complete on your own. When you have
decided on the activities you would like to complete, please fill out, sign, and turn in the Learning Contract
Agreement at the end of this document.
You may work on your activities when you have finished work and when I give you time to do so in class.
You may have to also do some work outside of class, but I’d like for you to do most of your work in class.
I’ll ask you to share your work with our classmates, so be ready to do so!
❏ Name That Place!
Brainstorm 10 types of businesses that you would find in a community (for example, a grocery store, a
flower shop, a veterinarian’s office). Then use the Yellow Pages to find a specific business in our community
that fits each type. Make a list of the businesses and their phone numbers. Next, think of a new business
that our community needs. Create a print advertisement (like one you might find in a newspaper) for this
new business. What is its name? Why should people in the community use this business? What makes it
better than other similar businesses? What makes it special or unique?
❏ Community Scavenger Hunt
Using all available resources, find examples of the items on the following list. Use the space provided to
explain items you identify. If you find a person to fit a particular item, please ask him or her to sign your list
next to the appropriate item.
• Person who sells a product.
• Person who provides a service.
• Person who has made a difference in our community.
How did this person make a difference?
• A sign of change in our community. What is changing?
• A problem our community has. Why is this a problem?
• Something that makes our community different from other
nearby communities.
• A person who left and then came back to our community.
Why did he or she return?
• A person who has seen the community change.
What has this person seen?
• A business that has been in the community for more than 20 years.
Why has it been able to stay open for this long?
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
IN
IT TOGETHER
SAMPLE 3.1— (continued)
❏ Community Survey/Poster
Survey at least 10 people in the community to find out the following:
• Favorite restaurant.
• Favorite building.
• Favorite veterinarian.
First, decide how you will find out the information. Will you ask you people yourself or will you create a
written survey to give to them? How will you keep track of their responses? Finally, make a poster that
shows favorite places in the community.
❏ Under Construction
Using the Community software, follow the directions to design a building for a community. Once you have
completed your building, print it out and write about why it is an important building for a community.
What is the name of the building? What makes it unique? How does it meet the needs of people living in a
community? What roles will people who work in the building play in the community?
❏ Come Visit Our Community!
Using information from resources provided in the classroom and that you can find elsewhere, as well as
examples of various travel brochures (which I will provide), create a travel brochure about our community.
Your brochure should make people outside of our community want to come visit it. How will you make our
community seem special? What are some of the best things you can say about our community? Be sure to
use pictures and words to make your brochure attractive and professional looking.
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SAMPLE 3.1— (continued)
Learning Contract Agreement
I,
, agree to work on the following activities
(must choose at least three from the list of options) during the Community unit:
1.
2.
3.
4.
I understand that my work will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
•
•
•
•
Neatness
Thoughtfulness
Accuracy of information
Originality (if appropriate)
I understand my contract work must be turned in by the following date:
.
I will work on the contract activities that I select during class time unless I first discuss with my teacher doing
something outside of class.
I agree to stay on task while working on my contract activities so that I do not distract others and so that I
can put forth my best effort.
Student’s Signature
Date
Teacher’s Signature
Date
UNIT 3: WE’RE ALL
IN
IT TOGETHER
SAMPLE 3.2— Community Helper Cause-and-Effect Graphic Organizer
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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SAMPLE 3.3— Community RAFT Activity Options
Role
Audience
Format
Topic
2nd grader
1st graders
Top 10 list in order
of importance
Community Helpers
One community helper
Another community
helper
Letter
Why I Am More
Important Than You
Community helper
Community
Speech
Why You Can’t Do
Without Me
2nd grader
Newcomer to the
community
How-to list or set
of directions
How to Get Your Needs
Met in Our Community
4
The World of Geometry
A Mathematics Unit on
Basic Geometric Concepts
Unit Developer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Introduction
This three- to four-week geometry unit, based on state standards and competency
goals for elementary mathematics, focuses on a “hands-on” look at lines, angles,
shapes, and their attributes as they apply to the students’ environment. The goal is
to give students an understanding of basic geometric concepts, especially as they
apply to real-life situations.
The unit begins with a pre-assessment to gauge students’ starting readiness levels and culminates with the creation of final products that require students to apply
what they have learned. Throughout, students are encouraged to think of geometry
as an integral part of the world around them and to see geometric terms as having a
communicative value that extends beyond the classroom. Although the unit is
intended to extend over three or four weeks, its actual length may vary depending
upon how much class time is spent working on the final products.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
As I began planning this unit, I thought about the wide variety of background
knowledge students bring to math class. In the context of geometry, I knew some of
my students would have little recollection of any previous exposure to geometric
terms and concepts beyond simple shape recognition. Other students would already
have demonstrated solid mastery of the geometry goals beyond their current grade
level. Of course, the majority of students would be somewhere on a continuum
between these two extremes.
Because of this range of familiarity with geometry, I knew I needed to be thinking in terms of differentiating many of the unit’s lessons and activities. Interest and
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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learning-style surveys given at the beginning of the year, along with observation and consistent anecdotal records, had supplied me with information about individual students’
preferred approaches to learning tasks, as well as their areas of special interest. I wanted
to take these learning styles and interest areas into consideration when selecting and
planning activities for this geometry unit.
It has been my experience that with increased emphasis on end-of-grade testing and
state pacing guides, elementary-level geometry units usually receive cursory attention,
with students given less time than I think they need to manipulate and examine the ideas
and concepts presented. With this unit, I wanted to make sure my students had lots of
opportunities to handle and explore objects in their environment as we studied geometric
terms and the attributes of those objects. I also wanted to stay away from the “worksheet
approach” to geometry as much as possible. I believe that if students are actively
involved and engaged in learning tasks, especially ones that involve manipulatives, their
learning will transfer to more traditional paper-and-pencil activities or test questions
when needed. With this in mind, as I planned this unit I gathered a variety of
manipulatives (including measurement tools, Geoboards, cardboard, and net figures)
that students could use to further their understanding and skills.
Geometry has been a passion of mine from youth. I agree with educator Dr. George
Macfeely Conwell who said, “The study of geometry is especially fitted to the youthful
mind. It encourages the development of intelligence, imagination and diligence.” My
hope in creating this unit was to convey my enthusiasm for the subject and to have my
students come away with the understanding that the study of geometry can be relevant
and useful to their lives.
Mathematics Standards Addressed
Measurement and Geometry. The learner will recognize, understand, and use basic geometric properties and standard units of metric and customary measurement:
• Draw and classify polygons and polyhedrons (solid figures) using appropriate
vocabulary: faces, angles, edges, and vertices. Describe rules for grouping.
• Identify and model symmetry and congruence with concrete materials and drawing.
• Recognize three-dimensional objects from different perspectives.
• Observe and describe geometry in the environment.
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Structure
• There is structure in everything around us.
• Structure helps us define and categorize objects in our world.
• Structure is often based on patterns of parts that create a whole.
• The structure of some objects can be explained in geometrical terms.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• The attributes of points, lines, line segments, planes, rays, parallel lines, and
perpendicular lines.
• Types of angles (right angle, acute angle, obtuse angle).
• The unique characteristics of circles and their related parts (radius, diameter,
circumference, chord).
• What makes shapes and objects congruent and symmetrical.
• The distinguishing characteristics of the following polyhedrons: cone, cube,
pyramid, rectangular prism, cylinder, and triangular prism.
• Different rules for grouping polygons and polyhedrons using the following terms:
faces, angles, edges, and vertices.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
• Geometry and symmetry are found in nature.
• There is a structure to everything around us.
• Using geometric terms is one way to describe the structure of our environment.
• Geometry is a very important part of the building industry and of architecture, art,
science, astronomy, clothing design, farming, and many other professions.
• There is often a relationship between the shape of an object and its use.
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Describe, draw, compare, and classify geometric objects.
• Communicate effectively using geometric terms.
• Gather, analyze, and apply geometric information in problem solving.
• Work cooperatively in pairs and small groups.
• Establish a project plan, including a timeline, and follow it.
Instructional Strategies Used
• Brainstorming
• Flexible grouping
• Independent projects with
process logs and a scoring rubric
• RAFT activities
• Think–Pair–Share
• Differentiated writing prompts
• Gardner’s multiple intelligences
• Pre-assessment
• Small-group collaborative activities
• Tiered assignments
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Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6
4.7
Geometry Knowledge Rating Scale
Differentiated Tangram Tally Sheets
Geometry RAFT Activity Options
Geometry Final Product Menu
Geometry Final Product Contract
Geometry Final Product Process Log
Geometry Final Product Scoring Rubric
120
121
123
124
125
126
127
Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Discussion in List–Group–Label
format
20 minutes
Introduction
1 class period
LESSON 2
Points, Lines,
Line
Segments,
and Rays
1 class period
LESSON 3
Angles
Writing activity as pre-assessment
15–20 minutes
Discussion of definitions and
examples
10–15 minutes
Small-group problem solving
30 minutes
Whole-group sharing for lesson
closure.
10 minutes
Discussion of the types of angles and
demonstration of angle measurement
15 minutes
Practice identifying and measuring
angles in small, mixed-readiness
groups
20 minutes
Tiered assignment based on readiness
50–75 minutes
2–3 class periods
Discussion for lesson closure
5–10 minutes
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
LESSON
LESSON 4
OF
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
GEOMETRY
99
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Reading assignment on circles and
discussion
15–20 minutes
Partner discussions of circles
10 minutes
Circles
1–2 class periods
Journal prompts differentiated by
readiness
30 minutes
Discussion for lesson closure
5–10 minutes
LESSON 5
Discussion of the prefixes, names,
and attributes of polygons
15 minutes
Polygons
Geoboard activity
40 minutes
1 class period
LESSON 6
Discussion for lesson closure
5–10 minutes
Presentation of basic tangram shapes
5 minutes
Reading and discussion of
Grandfather Tang’s Story
20–30 minutes
Tangrams
2–3 class periods
LESSON 7
Symmetry and
Congruence
1–2 class periods
Tiered tangram activities based on
readiness
60 minutes
Product sharing and discussion for
lesson closure
10–15 minutes
Discussion of and practice with finding lines of symmetry in classroom
objects and in the alphabet
30 minutes
Small-group practice with polygon
symmetry
20 minutes
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
100
LESSON
IN
PRACTICE
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Introduction of congruent shapes
using Geoboards
30 minutes
Exit card activity for lesson closure
5 minutes
LESSON 8
Observing and
Describing
Geometry
in Flags
1–2 class periods
LESSON 9
Round robin review in mixedreadiness groups
20 minutes
Discussion of shapes in state and
country flags
15 minutes
Tiered task card activities based on
readiness
40–45 minutes
Small- and large-group discussions for
lesson closure
10–15 minutes
Discussion of the attributes of
polyhedrons
15 minutes
Think–Pair–Share: Is a sphere a
polyhedron?
10 minutes
Polyhedrons
Small-group activity with the
vocabulary of polyhedrons
15 minutes
Self-selected application tasks based
on Gardner’s multiple intelligences
40 minutes
Product sharing with partners
10 minutes
1–2 class periods
3–2–1 exit card activity for lesson
closure
5 minutes
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
LESSON
LESSON 10
Review and
Application
2–3 class periods
LESSON 11
Unit
Assessment
OF
GEOMETRY
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
101
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Polyhedron review
10 minutes
Geometry scavenger hunt in
mixed-readiness groups
40 minutes
Self-selected RAFT activities based on
interest and learning style
45–60 minutes
Self-selected final products based on
student interest and learning style
1–2 class periods
1–2 class periods
Unit Pre-Assessment: Geometry Knowledge Rating Scale
Prior to beginning this unit, take a quick baseline assessment of what your students think
they already know about the subject of geometry. Lead a brief discussion of geometry
vocabulary to jog the students’ memories. Then make a Geometry Knowledge Rating
Scale (see Sample 4.1, page 120) on poster board or chart paper and place it on the classroom wall in an accessible spot. Under the chart, leave a stack of color-coded labels
(sticky-backed colored circles). Ask the students to take one sticker and place it above the
category title that best describes their level of geometry knowledge. (This is best done at
snack or break time so that everyone is not at the chart at the same time.) Remind students to try to honestly assess what they feel they know about the subject. The result will
be a colorful bar graph of the students’ range of prior knowledge levels.
Teacher Reflection on the Unit Pre-Assessment
My primary goal with all assessment data (whether formal, informal, or a combination of
both) is to use it to make appropriate decisions about instruction so that all of my students,
no matter what their readiness levels, have an opportunity to grow during the course of a
unit. At the beginning of new units, I frequently use a Knowledge Rating Scale to assess prior
knowledge levels of the class as a whole. This scale is an adaptation of the business tool
called a consensogram. It is simply a chart with different levels of knowledge listed. As
described, students rate their level of knowledge about the subject by placing a colored sticky
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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IN
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circle above one of the categories. Neither the teacher nor the students are to make any comment regarding circle placements. The circles do not have names on them, so there is no way
for students to know who placed the circles in the various categories.
I find that once instructed about how to place their circle, students give more candid
assessments if the activity is done during a break time or some time during the day when
there may only be one or two students at the chart at one time. For the most part, students
tend to be realistic about their understanding of a subject. I have also found that the more
I use this tool, the better the class becomes at assessing their own knowledge levels.
This type of chart is not only helpful in assessing prior knowledge of the class, but it
also helps students understand data collecting and graphing. The chart also provides a
visual reminder to students that they all will need to work on different activities from
time to time throughout the unit. You can also use the scale again at the end of the unit for
a quick assessment of change in class knowledge levels. This scale gives me an idea of
the class’s overall competency and of the range of competencies in my classroom. During
a unit’s first lesson, I find out more about individual students’ competencies through a
class brainstorming activity. If I need more information, I know that I can always give a
more formal paper-and-pencil assessment.
With this geometry unit, when I find students who clearly “already get” much of
what I am presenting, I allow them to start on the final products early, and I adjust my
expectations for their products based on the additional time they spend working on them.
For students who have severe learning problems, I work with a specialist to set reasonable goals (for example, naming shapes), and I find time to work with them individually
or in small groups.
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Introduction
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Discussion in List–Group–Label format. Begin the unit with
a whole-group discussion about geometry in the form of a
List–Group–Label activity.
These introductory discussions served
as an informal pre-assessment.
First, students will brainstorm a list of ideas about geometry.
Open by asking students what they think of when they hear
the word geometry. Record their responses on sticky notes,
and place them randomly on the board or on a large piece of
chart paper.
During brainstorming, it is important
to accept any idea without judgment.
I instructed the class to accept all
ideas and listened for misunderstandings to “correct” during the course of
the unit.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
103
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
After many ideas have been given, tell the students to categorize the terms and come up with names for their groups of
terms. How can they group these terms? What will they call
their groups? You may need to give a prompt for a label, such
as, “Triangle, squares, and rectangles are flat figures,” to get
the students started.
I was looking for students’ knowledge
of geometric terms and concepts, and
I took notes as the students offered
their ideas. Did they already know
types of angles, parts of a circle,
names of plane and solid figures?
Could they categorize shapes? I also
made note of fluency of ideas and
flexibility in grouping when categorizing their ideas.
Next, discuss some of the ways that geometry is used in the
world. What are some jobs in which people use geometry?
Again, record student responses on the board, chart paper, or
an overhead.
There will always be a few students
who have a good handle on the subject before you begin. (They might be
the ones who responded, “Can teach
the class” on the Knowledge Scale
completed before the unit.) In this
unit, as in others, I encouraged these
students to show what they know
without monopolizing the conversation or criticizing their classmates’
ideas. More reluctant students often
become animated and engaged during
this type of brainstorming activity,
especially if they feel safe to express
their ideas.
Writing activity as pre-assessment. To conclude the introduction to the unit, ask the students to write one or two paragraphs about some ways they use or might use geometry in
their lives. Their writing will serve as another assessment of
their prior knowledge of geometric terms and concepts and of
their understanding of practical applications of geometry.
If you want to use a more formal,
paper-and-pencil pre-assessment, I
recommend going to the school
“archives” and pulling worksheets
and pages from old math texts. I like
to copy, cut, and paste to create preand post-assessments. That way I can
customize them to focus on specific
goals without having to reinvent the
wheel.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON 2
IN
PRACTICE
Points, Lines, Line Segments, and Rays
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Discussion of definitions and examples. Present definitions
and examples of points, line segments, rays, and lines (perpendicular, intersecting, and parallel). Then ask the class to
find examples of each around the classroom. Try doing this in
a brainstorming format or as an “I Spy” game.
This material was a review for most
of my students, although specific
vocabulary words like ray, perpendicular, and parallel were familiar but
not always mastered. My emphasis
here was on identifying the types of
lines in the environment—in this
case, our classroom. Application of
the terms and concepts was the goal.
Ask students: How does the vocabulary of geometry help us
describe the world around us?
Small-group problem solving. Put the students in small
groups and give each group paper, rulers, markers,
Geoboards, and yarn. Write on the board, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Then ask the students to use some or all of their materials to prove that this
statement is true. Tell them to plan to share their proof with
the class.
I grouped the students randomly for
this problem-solving activity because
it draws on a variety of
skills—visual/spatial skills, creative
thinking, abstract thinking, and
psychomotor ability. This gave students a chance to be creative in their
approach to proving one of geometry’s basic rules.
As the groups work, circulate among them, listen to students’
thinking, and encourage them to try out their ideas.
A few students needed further clarification to get started, so I used
prompts such as, “Select two points
on your board. Choose two routes
from point to point. Which one is
shorter? How do you know?”
Whole-group sharing for lesson closure. Invite the groups to
share their proofs. As they do so, probe their thinking: Why
did you decide to prove this statement in this way? What
other ways did you consider? What did you learn from doing
this?
This gave students a chance to hear
one another’s thinking. Whole-group
sharing is a good way to encourage
students to learn from (and teach)
each other.
LESSON 3
Angles
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Discussion of the types of angles and demonstration of angle
measurement. On the board, present definitions and examples
of angles and the types of angles (right, acute, and obtuse). Then
model how to use a protractor to measure angles.
(2–3 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Protractor use is usually taught at
higher grades, but I find that my students enjoy the challenge. I used a
15-inch wooden protractor in this
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
GEOMETRY
105
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Have students work in pairs to find and identify angles in
uppercase alphabet letters. As a class, discuss the types of
angles that they find.
demonstration, the goal of which
was to help students understand the
concepts of 90 degrees and angles of
less than and greater than 90 degrees,
and the terms right, acute and obtuse.
With students who had a limited
understanding of large numbers,
I discussed the angles in a square.
These students compared other
angles to square angles in terms of
size rather than number of degrees:
“Is it smaller than or larger than an
angle in a square?”
Practice identifying and measuring angles in small,
mixed-readiness groups. Break the class up into small,
mixed-readiness groups and give each group protractors and
analog clocks (small cardboard practice clocks are good for
this).
It was very helpful to have a parent
volunteer to assist me with this
activity. One adult for each small
group is ideal to ensure that all the
students are using the protractors
correctly. (It’s always easier to make
sure a skill is learned correctly the
first time than to reteach one
learned incorrectly.) If parent volunteers are unavailable, I often rely on
students to serve as group leaders.
Prior to beginning an activity, I
select a student from each group to
teach others how to do the activity.
When using this strategy, I usually
group the most struggling learners
together so that I can work more
closely with them. In this way, students in the other, mixed-readiness
groups are invited to learn from one
another, while I can ensure that my
most struggling learners are getting
what they need with me.
Ask students to identify and measure angles formed by the
clock hands at different times. Have each group record their
findings on a chart with three columns: Time, Type of Angle,
and Measurement.
Tiered assignment based on readiness. Assign students to
one of three tasks based on readiness levels. All three tasks
ask students to distinguish the three types of angles studied
and to demonstrate their understanding in written or visual
form.
I wanted to give students an opportunity to solidify what they had learned
about the types of angles. Tiered
assignments allow everyone to work
on the same objective but in ways
that are appropriate to a variety of
instructional levels.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Pass out color-coded task cards with the appropriate degree of
challenge.
When I use color coding with tiered
assignments and assessments, I’m
careful to note each task/level/color
code in my planning book and
change colors for different lessons so
that my students do not begin to see
themselves as “red” or “blue.”
Level 1 Task (Struggling Students)
Make a poster showing the three types of angles we discussed: right, acute, and obtuse. Draw and label an example
of each type. Then look through magazines and catalogs to
find at least two examples of each type of angle and add the
pictures to your poster. Your poster should teach us about the
types of angles!
This task is for students who struggle
with written assignments. I decided
posters would give me the information about understanding that I
needed without causing these students undue frustration. The magazine pictures they chose told me
whether or not they could apply their
knowledge to objects outside of the
classroom.
Level 2 Task (On-Target Students)
Compose a story or poem about angles. You must use all three
types of angles that we have talked about. Be sure your story
or poem includes the distinguishing characteristics of the type
of angles and clearly teaches us about angles. Illustrate a
cover page for your story or poem.
This task is aimed at students who
have grade-level knowledge and skills
about this topic and can express their
ideas in writing. The illustration adds
a visual dimension to the assignment
and may thus support visual learners
or students whose writing would be
clarified by illustration.
Level 3 Task (Advanced Students)
Design and draw a building that has no right angles. Write
three paragraphs describing your building and its angles. In
your description, include what the building would be used
for. What will the doors and windows be like in your building? Will your design be popular with the general public?
Why or why not?
This task is designed to give advanced
learners a challenge. It encourages
them to be creative and flexible, gives
them an opportunity to evaluate their
ideas in terms of general audience
acceptance, and ensures clarity about
types of angles.
Discussion for lesson closure. Display the students’ work in
the classroom for all to see. Lead a whole-group discussion
about angles: Are angles important? Why? How do the structures around us reflect the importance of understanding
angles? What would our world be like if there was only
one type of angle? Would you like it better that way? Why?
How does understanding angles help you to describe your
environment?
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
LESSON 4
OF
GEOMETRY
Circles
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
107
(1–2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Reading assignment on circles and discussion. Read the students a book about circles. Choices might include What Is
Round? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, The Missing Piece Meets The
Big O by Shel Silverstein, or Round & Round & Round by
Tana Hoban.
I used the book to begin a group discussion about circles.
Ask students to brainstorm a list of places where we see circles. Place the list on chart paper to be posted on the wall.
The list of circles in the world around
us that the class came up with
included circles from the classroom,
their homes, the playground, and so
forth. My students were very familiar
with circles!
Discuss parts of the circle: radius, diameter, chord, and
circumference.
My aim here was to expose the class
to the vocabulary of circles.
Partner discussions of circles. Have students work in
self-selected pairs to discuss these terms and their use. Ask:
How do these new terms help us describe our enviornment?
When are these important? Can you think of a time when you
might need to know diameter? Circumference?
I allowed the students to choose their
partners for this short activity, as
doing so can allow for greater
risk-taking in thinking. Also, I knew
that the next portion of the lesson
would be “teacher choice,” and I
wanted to make sure to provide some
“student choice” along the way.
After a few minutes, bring the students back together as a
whole group to share their thinking.
Journal prompts differentiated by readiness. Print these
prompts on color-coded cards so that you can distribute them
to students easily.
Level 1 Prompt (Struggling Students)
Make a list of all the places you see circles in your environment (at your home or at school). Be sure to add to the list
created by the class. What new ideas can you come up with?
Which circle is the most important in your life? Why do you
think so?
The first prompt is appropriate for
students who struggle to write or who
are more concrete and literal thinkers.
It asks them to find examples in
real-life objects and to evaluate and
support their opinions.
Level 2 Prompt (On-Target Students)
Imagine that you wake up one morning to a world without
any circles. Think about all the things that would be different.
Write about how this lack of circles would change your life.
Write as many things as you can think of.
The second prompt is less concrete
and requires more imaginative
responses. It’s designed for students
who are comfortable with writing
three or four paragraphs and who can
work with hypothetical situations.
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PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Discussion for lesson closure. When the students have completed their writing, lead a whole-group discussion by posing
the following question: “What is the one thing you would say
about circles to someone who knows nothing about them?”
Lead students to consider the importance of circles in our
world.
This whole-group discussion gave me
a chance to hear what the students
had come to know and understand
about circles. I took notes about their
responses so that I could use the discussion as anecdotal evidence of the
students’ progress. I also wanted the
students to build on their understanding of geometry (see the Unit Objectives, page 97).
LESSON 5
Polygons
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Discussion of the prefixes, names, and attributes of polygons. This lesson focuses on plane figures and the vocabulary
related to them. Begin by writing the word polygon on the
board. Discuss the meaning of the prefix poly- (many) and the
root gon (sides). Put several poly words on the board (e.g.,
polysyllable, polyvinyl, polygraph, polyester, polyphonic,
polytechnical). What do students think these words mean?
I like to incorporate word studies in
all subject areas, especially when
introducing new vocabulary. Pointing
out prefixes, suffixes, and roots helps
to build word attack skills. Some students automatically transfer meaning
from familiar words to unknown ones
having similar prefixes or roots. Other
students benefit from being walked
through this transfer process and having repeated practice.
Next, write the word octopus on the board. Ask students what
they know about an octopus. When the response, “It has
eight arms,” is given, write the word octagon. Remind students that the root gon means sides. What would the word
octagon mean? (Other words you may want to look at are
October, octet, and octave.)
Discuss meanings of the words hexagon and pentagon. Have
students look at the word triangle and talk about the suffix
and root in relationship to the word’s meaning.
Geoboard activity. After discussing the names of several polygons, give each student a Geoboard and yarn. (If Geoboards are
not available, popsicle sticks, glue, and construction paper will
work. Note, however, that if you use popsicle sticks, the shapes
will be more similar, due to the sticks’ standard length.)
After going over these words on the
board, I made a chart of words having
similar prefixes and roots. I displayed
the chart on the wall to remind the
class of the meanings of the math
terms we were learning and also to
expand their general vocabulary. Students were encouraged to add other
examples throughout the unit.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
109
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Have the students make figures with given numbers of sides
as you call them out (for example, four-sided or seven-sided).
Ask students to hold up their shapes for the class to see. Let
them talk about how the shapes differ from one another. Point
out that some shapes are “regular” (having sides all the same
length) while others are “irregular.”
Ask: Is your shape regular or irregular? How do you know?
In talking about the students’ Geoboard shapes, introduce the
term vertex/vertices. (“This is where your sides meet.”) Also,
discuss the number of angles in their polygons.
In discussing the shapes that the students were making, I made sure to
point out that shapes can look different and still be called a triangle, or
rectangle, or pentagon.
As students built their polygons, I
worked with individuals and small
groups as needed to reinforce the ideas
of sides of shapes and different numbers of sides. We talked about shapes
in the room around us and drew or
traced shapes to further understanding
and reinforce unit concepts.
Have students analyze the groupings and write a statement
summarizing each category. Have students share their summaries. Repeat with different categories.
Here, I wanted the students to classify
polygons and describe rules for
grouping. I started out with obvious
categories like triangles/not triangles.
Then I progressed to more subtle differences such as right angles/no right
angles. I made sure to point out that
grouping polygons would help them
understand their similarities and
differences.
Discussion for lesson closure. Have the students think of
favorite objects. Ask: What polygon is your favorite object
most like? What different polygons does it include? How
would this object be different if it were shaped like another
polygon? Would you like it as well? Why? What is the relationship between structure and function?
I try to ask questions at the end of
lessons that invite my students to
relate personally to the materials we
have worked with. I find that this
simple and quick reflection helps
them retain information.
When the students can make polygons with different numbers
of sides, ask the students to make a polygon of their choice.
Use the shapes the students made to discuss: Which two
polygons can go together? Why? Are there any others that can
go in that group? Why not? What group can we make for
them? What can we call our groups?
LESSON 6
Tangrams
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Presentation of basic tangram shapes. Describe tangrams
and show examples of the seven basic shapes. Students
should identify triangles, squares, and parallelograms. Demonstrate how the shapes can be used to make other shapes.
(2–3 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Work with tangrams gives students
experience with plane figures, helps
develop their spatial awareness,
and furthers their understanding of
parts and whole. I used an overhead
projector to introduce the seven basic
tangram shapes.
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PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
(We had looked at all but the parallelogram in the previous lesson.) I took
the opportunity to remind them what
the word parallel means and to point
out how it applied to this polygon. I
demonstrated how two triangles can
fit together to make one larger triangle, how the square and two small triangles can make a rectangle, and how
all seven pieces go together to make a
large square.
Reading and discussion of Grandfather Tang’s Story. Read
aloud this book by Ann Tompert. (Another option is Four Pigs,
One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes by Grace Maccarone.) As
you read, ask students to point out tangram shapes that they
notice in the pictures.
This book illustrates how the pieces
can be used to make animal shapes.
Tiered tangram activities based on readiness. Assign students to one of two tiered activities based on their previous
grasp of polygons and distribute color-coded activity lists, tangram pieces, and Differentiated Tangram Tally Sheets (see
Sample 4.2, beginning on page 121), where they will keep
track of the different shapes they successfully make with their
seven tangram pieces.
My goals with these activities were to
provide students with the opportunity
to compare, contrast, and classify
polygons and give them a chance to
work with both visual thinking and
creative thinking. The more advanced
Tangram Tally Sheet (Level 2) requires
students to come up with a greater
number of ways to create polygons
using a maximum of five tangrams
rather than four.
Be sure to tell the students that they must do the first task on
their list first, but that after they complete that one, they can
work on the other tasks in any order they would like.
Level 1 Activities (On-Target Students)
1. Cut out your tangrams and fill out the Tangram Tally Sheet.
2. Choose two of your tangram pieces. Use a Venn diagram to
compare and contrast the two pieces.
3. Make a chart classifying your tangram pieces by number of
sides, vertices, and angles.
4. Make three new shapes with your tangram pieces. What
objects or animals do they look like to you?
Level 2 Activities (Advanced Students)
1. Cut out your tangrams and fill out the Tangram Tally Sheet.
2. Classify your shapes using your own categories. Explain
why each shape belongs in the category to which you
assigned it.
The Level 1 activities are less complex
and less open-ended than the Level 2
activities. In addition, the tasks on the
Level 2 list require greater abstract
thought and skill with writing.
As I handed out the activity sheets, I
explained to students that I would be
evaluating them based on the completeness of their work, their time
management, and their ability to
work cooperatively. I find that letting
students in on what I’m actually looking for in their work results in
better-quality work.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
111
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
3. What would these polygons look like as three-dimensional
shapes? Draw a picture of them. What would they be called?
Where might you see these shapes?
4. How many animals from Grandfather Tang’s Story can you
make using your shapes? Can you make other animals or
objects? Draw outlines of your figures and share them with a
partner.
As the students worked, I moved
among them asking questions, providing feedback, and noting when
students struggled with their work or
finished it with ease. My observations
informed my grouping decisions for
the remainder of the unit.
Note: Students may work individually or in pairs on these
activities. Partners should work with like-colored activity lists,
tangrams, and tally sheets.
Product sharing and discussion for lesson closure. Allow
the students to share their work from their activity lists.
Ask: What do you like about working with tangrams? What is
difficult about it? What did you learn about polygons today?
Do polygons have structure?
LESSON 7
Symmetry and Congruence
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1–2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Discussion of and practice with finding lines of symmetry
in classroom objects and in the alphabet. Discuss the meaning of symmetrical: “Even distribution—corresponding in size,
shape, and position—of parts that are on the opposite side of
a dividing or center line.”
Demonstrate a test for symmetry by dividing geometric
shapes in half. Ask: Are the two sides the same?
Discuss symmetry in our environment by showing pictures of
flowers, snowflakes, and human faces. Have students tell
whether they, themselves, have lines of symmetry. How many
lines of symmetry do they have? Can they identify additional
lines of symmetry in objects in the classroom?
Draw lines of symmetry in alphabet letters. Introduce the term
asymmetrical. Ask: Which letters are asymmetrical?
I found that several demonstrations of
finding lines of symmetry were necessary. I folded large paper shapes: circles, squares, rectangles, and stars. I
drew magic marker lines to divide
pictures in two parts.
I found it beneficial to cut large letters
out of construction paper so the students could see them folded in half.
Actually folding letters seemed to help
students understand the concept better
than just drawing lines. I also demonstrated symmetry using a mirror. Anything to help my students see it!
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
112
IN
PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Ask each student to write his or her name using all uppercase
letters and then draw lines of symmetry for each letter. Then
have the students draw lines of symmetry for the lowercase
letters in their names. Be sure to offer assistance as needed.
This activity provided some quick
independent practice with identifying
symmetrical shapes and lines of
symmetry.
Small-group practice with polygon symmetry. Provide a
number of envelopes containing paper polygon shapes. Let
students work together in random groups to find lines of symmetry for each shape. Have one student per group record their
findings, writing the name of each polygon and how many
lines of symmetry it has.
Having the opportunity to handle and
fold the shapes helped solidify the
students’ understanding of lines of
symmetry. Some groups stopped
when they found one line of symmetry and needed my encouragement to
look for more than one.
Next, the groups will brainstorm and list things in nature that
are symmetrical. When the groups have completed their work,
invite them to share their ideas with the large group. How
many lines of symmetry does a square have? How do you
know? Where can we find symmetry in nature? What does
symmetry tell us about the structure of things around us?
Introduction of congruent shapes using Geoboards. Introduce the term congruent and demonstrate how to tell if
shapes are congruent. Be sure to place congruent shapes in
different positions as you demonstrate and stress that it is the
size and shape that must be the same, not the position.
Rotating and flipping shapes makes
the task harder. I wanted to make
sure that the students could identify
congruent shapes in different
positions.
Have students work in pairs with Geoboards. One student will
make a shape on his or her board, and the other will then
make a shape that is congruent.
My students enjoy the opportunity to
“play” with new information and
skills. It helps them understand ideas
more fully.
Exit card activity for lesson closure. Tell the students that in
order to leave the classroom at the end of the lesson, they will
need to create and turn in an “exit ticket” that explains the
meanings of symmetrical and congruent. Distribute index
cards and tell students that they may either draw or write
their explanations.
Exit cards provide a quick way to
assess student understanding. If I find
that some students are not able to
explain the meanings of the terms,
either in pictures or words, then I go
back and reteach the terms in a small
group.
LESSON 8
Observing and Describing Geometry in Flags
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Round robin review in mixed-readiness groups. At this
point in the unit, students have worked with several geometric terms and shapes. Time for a review!
(1–2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
This review activity got the students
up and moving.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
113
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Place posters on the walls around the room with the following
headings (one heading per poster):
I used mixed-readiness groups to
encourage students to share their
thinking with one another and learn
through the process. I find that this
type of review is critical as the students begin to synthesize information
late in a unit of study.
• Points and lines
• Polygons
• Angles
• Symmetry
• Circles
• Congruence
Working in mixed-readiness groups, the students will rotate
from one poster to the next, at two- to three-minute intervals,
writing as much as they can about the terms on the posters.
When all groups have visited all of the posters, discuss the
ideas written on the posters and add to them as needed.
Discussion of shapes in state and country flags. Explain that
a variety of lines, angles, and plane-figures can be seen in
flags of the world. Most flags themselves are usually rectangular in shape.
So far in the unit, the students had
been identifying and describing
points, types of lines, angles, and
plane-figures in the classroom environment. During discussions and
activities, I had encouraged them to
think of places they might see these.
Here, I presented them with an idea
they might not ordinarily think of in
terms of geometric shapes: flags.
Show several examples of country, state, and nautical flags
from books such as A Pocket Guide to Flags by Sue Heady,
Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson, and I Know About Flags by
Chris Jaeggi. Most encyclopedias also include a collection of
world and nautical flags.
The students were quite interested in
the wide variety of flags. The flag
books were very popular items during
free time!
Discuss which geometric shapes can be seen in the flags.
Flags from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan,
Korea, the Bahamas, Greece, Libya, and Israel are good examples to use. Discuss lines (parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting), types of angles, circles, and polygons.
Ask: Which flags have designs that are symmetrical? How can
you tell? How does understanding geometry help us describe
our environment?
Tiered task card activities based on readiness. Give each
student one of three color-coded task cards. For each assignment, students must identify and describe geometric shapes
in state or country flags.
My goal with this activity was to get
the students to synthesize the information we had worked with previously in the unit. I considered
differences in writing ability and in
abstract thinking skills when designing the three tiers for this activity. At
each level, students could draw and
color as well as write descriptions.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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PRACTICE
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Level 1 Task (Concrete Thinkers)
Draw and color your state flag or a flag from another state.
List all the geometric shapes that you see. Where do you see
examples of parallel, perpendicular, or intersecting lines? Is
the flag symmetrical or asymmetrical? Why do you think so?
Be specific!
I designed this activity with my most
concrete thinkers in mind. These were
students who preferred to list information and who might give only
“yes/no” answers to questions. Thus,
I asked them to give reasons for their
responses. If needed, I helped these
students choose flags incorporating
different types of lines.
Level 2 Task (Emerging Abstract Thinkers)
Choose two country flags or two state flags. Draw and color
each flag. Write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the
two flags using the terms parallel, perpendicular, intersecting,
and other geometric terms. Be sure to discuss the geometric
shapes that you see in the two flags. Which flag do you like
better? Why?
I created this middle tier for students
who were just beginning to think
more abstractly. They were also more
comfortable with written tasks than
were the students I assigned to the
Level 1 task.
Level 3 Task (Abstract Thinkers)
Imagine that your state has decided to split into two states:
For example, East Carolina and West Carolina or North Utah
and South Utah. You have been commissioned to design the
flags for the two new states. Draw and color the two flags.
Write two or three paragraphs discussing your designs.
Include in your discussion the geometric features of your
designs, the symbolism shown by the geometric features, and
how the two flags are alike and different. Be sure your designs
include the kinds of shapes, angles, and lines we’ve studied.
I geared this top tier to my advanced
students. These students had shown
that they were imaginative and liked
to work with hypothetical situations. I
had to explain what I meant by symbolism in flag designs, but they
quickly caught on and ran with it.
Small- and large-group discussions for lesson closure. Provide time for students to meet in mixed-readiness groups to
share their work with one another. Then reassemble as a large
group and discuss the use of geometry: Why do you think
people who create symbols, such as flags and logos, incorporate ideas about geometry? For example, why do they consider
symmetry? Do we like things better when they are symmetrical? Why?
I think it’s important for my students
to meet in a variety of groupings to
share and discuss their work. They all
learn from each other.
LESSON 9
Polyhedrons
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Discussion of the attributes of polyhedrons. In this lesson, students will examine three-dimensional figures: cubes, cones, cylinders, pyramids, triangular and rectangular prisms, and spheres.
(1–2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
115
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Write the word polyhedron on the board, and explain that
hedron comes from a root that means plane or face. Then
ask students to think about what they know about the prefix
poly, and generate some ideas about what polyhedron might
mean.
I began by reviewing poly to see what
students had retained from our earlier
word study.
Show the class a square and a cube. How are these shapes
alike? Different?
Here, I was looking for an understanding of dimension and depth.
Discuss other polyhedrons in terms of their names, number of
faces, edges, and vertices. In each case, ask students to brainstorm objects that have the same shape (e.g., box, soup can,
ice cream cone). What is the relationship between an object’s
shape and its function?
As with other lessons in this unit, I
emphasized recognition of real-life
objects in the environment.
Think– Pair– Share: Is a sphere a polyhedron? Give students
two minutes to write their response to this question and their
reasons. Then, ask them to turn to a partner and discuss
their ideas for the next two minutes. Each partner should
express his or her ideas. Finally, pose the question again and
have the students discuss their ideas as a large group. Be sure
that students have an understanding of the correct answer
before moving on.
Think–Pair–Share activities give shy
or reluctant students a chance to participate in discussions. I find that they
will share their ideas more readily in
the larger group after they have “tried
them out” during the partner sharing
time.
Small-group activity with the vocabulary of polyhedrons.
Review the following terms: face, edge, vertex, and base.
Divide the class into random groups of three or four. Give
each group a paper bag with a large number on the outside.
Inside the bag is one polyhedron.
The students enjoyed this activity,
which gave them the opportunity to
use the desired vocabulary correctly
and to classify the different polyhedrons by various characteristics.
One member of the group places his or her hand in the bag
without looking at the shape. That student must not name the
shape he or she feels—just describe it to the rest of the small
group using the terms faces, edges, vertices, and bases.
Another member of the group will record the group’s guess as
to the name of the polyhedron based on the description given.
Before they began working, I had a
student demonstrate how to describe
the shapes without naming them. I
found that certain students benefited
from having a blindfold when peeking
was a temptation.
Rotate the bags among the groups and have students take
turns being the “describer.” Each group should have a card
with bag numbers and their corresponding guesses about the
names of the polyhedrons. After all the groups have completed their lists, remove the shapes from the bags, one by
one, and check the groups’ guesses.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Self-selected application tasks based on Gardner’s multiple
intelligences. The students will select and complete one of
the following tasks:
At this point, I looked back through
my unit plans and noticed that I had
included a lot of differentiation based
on readiness. I wanted also to address
learning profiles. I find that Gardner’s
theory of multiple intelligences is a
useful tool for this type of differentiation. I wanted all the students to work
with the characteristics and parts of
polyhedrons, but I wanted them to be
able to do so in ways that were really
comfortable for them.
Option 1: Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
Choose two polyhedrons that we have worked with. Write
detailed descriptions of each one, including the correct terms:
face, edge, vertex, and base. Your descriptions should enable
us to “see” your polyhedrons without having a picture to
look at.
Option 2: Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
Create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting two of the
polyhedrons we have worked with. Your diagram should
include the following terms: face, edge, vertex, and base. Create a second Venn diagram using two different polyhedrons.
Option 3: Kinesthetic Intelligence
Using materials provided in the classroom, build models of
two of the polyhedrons we have studied. Find a way to label
the following on your models: faces, edges, vertices, and
bases.
For Option 3, I provided straws, pipe
cleaners, cardboard, tape, and other
“junk” materials, but I did not tell the
students which materials they should
use.
Option 4: Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Draw detailed diagrams of two of the polyhedrons we have
worked with. How will you show all the parts of these polyhedrons (faces, edges, vertices, and bases)? Label the parts.
While students worked on their tasks,
I found time to meet with small
groups of students based on needs I
observed in class and on assessments.
Option 5: Naturalist Intelligence
Choose one polyhedron that we have studied. Find and list
examples of this polyhedron in nature. Then select one of the
objects from your list, draw it, and label the following parts:
faces, edges, vertices, and bases.
Before students begin work on their chosen option, stress that
their work must be detailed, neat, and accurate in terms of
geometric terminology.
Product sharing with partners. When the students have finished their work, ask them to share their products with partners who completed different tasks. Tell the students to switch
partners a few times so that they get to see a range of products.
This manner of sharing gets the students up and moving, and it gives
everyone a chance to share with others. I circulated around the room,
offering assistance to those who
needed some help sharing their work
(either due to language limitations or
personality characteristics).
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
3–2–1 exit card activity for lesson closure. Wrap up the lesson by having students complete a 3–2–1 activity on index
cards to be turned in and discussed at the start of the next
lesson. The students will write the following on their cards:
• Three things in nature that are shaped like common
polyhedrons.
• Two ways to identify a specific polyhedron.
• One important use of polyhedrons.
LESSON 10
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
This activity was a quick way to
get some closure and invite some
more thinking about unit generalization. It was also a good foundation for
the next lesson and provided me with
useful assessment information.
Review and Application
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Polyhedron review. Begin with a review of the previous
lesson, reading ideas from the students’ 3–2–1 exit cards.
Ask: What other polyhedrons do we see in nature? Can
you think of other examples? What’s the best way to tell
which polyhedron you have? Can you think of any other
important uses of polyhedrons? Do polyhedrons have a
common structure?
117
(2–3 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
I like to use the students’ ideas whenever possible. This can be very validating for students who don’t often
get to hear their ideas repeated for the
class.
Geometry scavenger hunt in mixed-readiness groups. By
now, the students have explored points; perpendicular, parallel, and intersecting lines; right, acute, and obtuse angles; circles and their parts; and polygons and polyhedrons. Many of
the discussions about these concepts have focused on application to the classroom environment. Now it’s time to help students put it all together by transferring their learning to
settings outside of the classroom through a scavenger hunt.
I wanted to give students a fun way to
apply their understanding of geometry to another setting. Please note that
this was not a competitive scavenger
hunt!
Set up mixed-readiness groups and give each group a chart so
that they can track their progress during the hunt. On the
chart, provide a list of the geometric lines, angles, and shapes
that you want the students to find, as well as spaces for them
to list the objects having the shapes and the locations of the
objects.
I chose mixed-readiness groups
because I wanted the students to
learn from one another. I encouraged
each group to find all of the shapes
listed, and I allowed groups who finished early to help other students.
Lead the class, charts in hand, around the school and the surrounding grounds. Upon returning to the classroom, each
group will share its findings with the large group. Pose questions to focus the discussion. For example: In how many different places did we see parallel lines? Obtuse angles? Using
the vocabulary of geometry, what can we say about the structure of architecture? Of nature?
The playground was a good place
to start because the students were so
active and animated in their search.
One group recommended that we
expand our hunt to the nature trail,
which proved to be a good source
of “environmental” geometry.
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
We stayed together in the same
general area, but the groups spread
out as much as they could. The
summary discussion afterward
reined the students back in and prepared them for the RAFT activities
coming next.
Self-selected RAFT activities based on interest and learning
style. Distribute the Geometry RAFT Activity Options
(see Sample 4.3, page 123). Tell the students to choose and
complete one Role with its accompanying Audience, Format,
and Topic. They may work individually or with a partner.
Upon completion of the products, the students will share
them with the large group. Invite the students to ask one
another questions about each other’s work.
Ask: How do the various products reflect the unit generalizations? What do students like best about their own work? What
might they do differently next time?
LESSON 11
Unit Assessment
My students are more motivated
when they can choose from a
variety of approaches and formats
to express what they have come to
understand during a unit of study.
RAFT activities let them select
areas of interest and demonstrate
competency in ways that are suited
to their individual learning styles.
Because so many interests are
addressed in the RAFT, I did not use
it as part of the assessment for this
unit. Rather, I wanted the students
to have a chance to focus on an
interest area and “stretch their
creative muscles.”
(1–2 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Self-selected final products based on student interest and
learning style. The assessment for this unit accommodates
individual learning differences. There are two categories of
products on the Geometry Final Product Menu (see Sample
4.4, page 124); these activities are differentiated based on student interests and learning styles. Students choose one product from each category.
Our unit assessment was a combination of two products. I gave students
class time to work on their products
so that I could observe their progress
and guide and assist them as needed.
Category 1 Product Options
Choices include a poster showing labeled examples of geometric shapes; a glossary of geometric terminology; and an
illustrated book, The ABCs of Geometry.
The first category of products allows
students to demonstrate mastery of
basic geometry vocabulary and the
unit concepts.
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
119
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Category 2 Product Options
Choices include a game that teaches geometry concepts
(complete with rules and advertising copy); a design and advertisement for a robot that illustrates geometric principles; an illustrated essay about the look of futuristic environments, focused
on geometric elements; and a research report on geodesic dome
buildings (complete with an illustration or a model).
Product choices in the second category include more creative options. I
designed these activities to assess
application and synthesis of the geometric concepts.
After students have had time to review and discuss their product options, distribute copies of the Geometry Final Product
Contract (see Sample 4.5, page 125) for them to sign.
Included in the contract is the student’s agreement to document and reflect upon his or her work by preparing a Geometry Final Product Process Log (see Sample 4.6, page 126).
I find that contracts encourage students’ sense of ownership over their
products. Process logs invite students
to reflect on and evaluate the ways in
which they work, and they give me
greater insight into students’ understanding of their work.
Before students begin work, distribute copies of the Geometry
Final Product Scoring Rubric (see Sample 4.7, page 127).
Explain that they will be turning in self-evaluations when
their product is complete.
I based my own evaluations on this
same rubric. Overall, I found that the
combination of the two products, my
observations of and conversations
with the students as they worked on
those products, and the students’ process logs gave me solid information
about their mastery of the unit’s
objectives.
Teacher Reflection on Unit
The hands-on approach in this unit works well for my students and is a natural fit for the
subject matter. Because geometry is such a “physical” part of world, it invites—and I
think, demands—the use and exploration of manipulatives. By designing so many of the
activities with my students’ varying “starting points” in mind, I can ensure that every student has a chance to grow during our study of geometry. Rather than feeling discouraged
by the fact that they are working in different groupings at different times, my students like
the fact that I consider their needs as I plan my instruction. They also like the fact that
many of the unit activities are open-ended enough to allow them some flexibility in their
thinking. I feel like this unit, while focusing clearly on my objectives, has a little something for everyone, and because of that, my students find it very engaging.
Elizabeth Hargrave has taught autistic, learning-disabled, and gifted and talented students in
grades K–5 in North Carolina. She can be reached at [email protected]
(I’ve heard of it)
(No clue)
(I know it well)
Much Knowledge
(I can teach the class about it)
Expert Knowledge
IN
Little Knowledge
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
No Knowledge
Our Knowledge of Geometry
SAMPLE 4.1— Geometry Knowledge Rating Scale
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PRACTICE
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
121
SAMPLE 4.2— Differentiated Tangram Tally Sheets
(Level 1)
Directions: Use this grid to keep track of the shapes you make with your tangram pieces. Try to make all
of the shapes with different combinations of pieces. Draw a sketch of your shape in the square, outlining
its tangram parts.
Number of Tangram Pieces I Used
1
Square
Rectangle
Triangle
Parallelogram
2
3
4
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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IN
PRACTICE
SAMPLE 4.2— Differentiated Tangram Tally Sheets— (continued)
(Level 2)
Directions: Use this grid to keep track of the shapes you make with your tangram pieces. Try to make all
of the shapes with different combinations of pieces. Draw a sketch of your shape in the square, outlining
its tangram parts.
Number of Tangram Pieces I Used
1
Square
Rectangle
Triangle
Parallelogram
2
3
4
5
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
123
SAMPLE 4.3— Geometry RAFT Activity Options
Role
Audience
Format
Topic
Writer/Illustrator
Kindergarteners
Illustrated children’s
book
Shapes in My House
Yourself
Our class
Riddles (written or
on audio tape)
What Shape Am I?
Songwriter
The world
Song (write and sing)
These Are a Few of My
Favorite Shapes
Artist with the
Department of
Transportation
Drivers
Road signs
New Warning Signs
Jeopardy Host
Contestants
Quiz questions
Shapes for $200
Teacher
3rd graders
Crossword puzzle
Geometric Terms
Poet
The world
Poem
Lines, Circles, or Shapes
Yourself
Our class
Collage
Shapes in Nature
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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SAMPLE 4.4— Geometry Final Product Menu
Directions: Choose one product activity from each of the following two categories. Select projects that you
feel will best demonstrate what you have come to know and understand about geometry during this unit.
Category 1
❏ Poster. Using pictures from magazines and newspapers, find and label objects that represent the different types of lines, angles, and shapes that we studied. Include and label parallel, perpendicular, and
intersecting lines; right, acute, and obtuse angles; circles; polygons (triangles, squares, rectangles, parallelograms); polyhedrons (pyramids, cones, cylinders, cubes, and rectangular prisms); spheres; and symmetrical
and congruent shapes.
❏ Glossary. Make a glossary of geometric terms. Define and give an illustrated example of each term.
Include line, segment, ray, angles (right, acute, obtuse), circle, radius, diameter, polygon, triangle, square,
rectangle, parallelogram, polyhedron, sphere, pyramid, cone, cylinder, cube, rectangular prism, symmetry,
congruence, and any other geometric terms that you think should be included.
❏ Book. Make a book titled The ABCs of Geometry. Try to include a geometric term or concept for each
letter of the alphabet (For example: A is for Angle or D is for Diameter.) Illustrate your book. Where you
can, include as many terms as possible for the letters.
Category 2
❏ Game. Invent a game to help teach children about lines, angles, polygons, circles, polyhedrons, congruence, and symmetry. Write a manual for parents and teachers that explains the rules and procedures of the
game and discusses the benefits of playing the game. What things will the students who play your game
learn about geometry in their world? Write a Saturday morning TV advertisement for your game.
❏ Geobot. Design a robot that is made of many different geometric lines, angles, polygons, circles, and
polyhedrons. Write three or four paragraphs describing your robot. Include drawings or blueprints of your
plans, and tell why you chose to use the shapes you did. Is your robot symmetrical or asymmetrical? Explain
why your robot is special and what kinds of things it can do. Write a short advertisement for your robot to
put in the Sharper Image catalog.
❏ Futuristic Community. Write a one-page essay about life in the year 2200. Describe your environment,
especially in terms of the geometric lines, angles, polygons, and polyhedrons you would see. What things
will change? What will remain the same and why? Will objects be more or less symmetrical than they are
now? Why do you think so? Include a drawing or model of your community of the future.
❏ Geodesic Dome Buildings. Research geodesic dome buildings. Draw a picture or build a model of a
dome building, and write three or four paragraphs discussing dome buildings. What geometric lines,
angles, polygons, and polyhedrons are involved? What are the advantages and disadvantages of geodesic
dome buildings? How would your life be different if you lived in a geodesic dome house? Would you like to
live in such a house? Why or why not?
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
125
SAMPLE 4.5— Geometry Final Product Contract
Name
Date
These final products give me a chance to demonstrate what I have come to understand about geometry
during this unit of study. I have read the unit objectives and have been given opportunities to explore
and study the geometric concepts relating to lines, angles, polygons, circles, polyhedrons, symmetry,
and congruence.
I have read over the final product options and have selected two projects that I feel will best show what I
have learned about geometry. I will complete a one-page Process Log for each product. Each Process Log
will include times and dates that I worked on the project, what I feel I learned from working on the product, any problems I encountered, and how I solved those problems. Upon completion of each product,
I will evaluate my work using the rubric that my teacher and I have created for my final products.
My selection from the Final Product Menu Category 1 is
I will have this product and the Process Log completed by
(date)
My selection for Category 2 is
I will have this product and the Process Log completed by
I agree to (check those that apply)
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
Do my best work on the products and Process Log.
Turn my work in on time.
Work neatly and write legibly.
Use my class time wisely.
Work quietly without disturbing my classmates.
Complete a self-evaluation rubric for each product.
Ask questions when I don’t understand something.
Ask for help if I need it.
Signed
(date)
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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SAMPLE 4.6— Geometry Final Product Process Log
Name
Date
Product
Dates and times I worked on this product:
Things I learned while working on this product (these should be things you learned about geometry and
things you learned about yourself):
Problems I encountered while working on this product and how I solved them:
Things I would do differently next time (and why):
UNIT 4: THE WORLD
OF
GEOMETRY
127
SAMPLE 4.7— Geometry Final Product Scoring Rubric
Name
Date
Product
Level of Achievement
Scoring Criteria
4
I have gone above and beyond what was required in the following ways:
Exemplary
Achievement
These things are extra-special about my product:
3
Proficient (Expected)
Achievement
2
Limited
Achievement
1
Minimal
Achievement
0
Not Able to Be Scored
I have completed my product on time. I have included my Process Log. I
have done my best work. I have followed the directions, and my work is
neat. My product shows that I understand the big ideas and skills of the
unit and can apply them.
I have tried to follow directions, work neatly, and show what I know, but I
know this is not my best effort. My product could have been better in the
following ways:
This product did not get much attention or effort from me. There are
many ways I could improve this product. Some of them are listed below:
I did not complete the assignment.
5
It’s All a Matter of Chance
A Mathematics Unit on Beginning Probability
Unit Developer: Laura C. Massey
Introduction
This four-week mathematics unit is based on the concept of chance and guides students to an understanding of the presence of probability in many real-life situations.
Students explore random, unpredictable behavior in search of patterns to help
determine the chances that an event will occur. The application of mathematical
problem solving leads students to conclude that we cannot control random events;
however, we can predict an outcome as more or less likely to occur.
The unit begins by introducing students to basic probability concepts and relating the concepts to the students’ prior knowledge and experience before asking
them to make new applications. Then, the students conduct a series of experiments
that require them to collect data, critically analyze results, and generate conclusions
regarding the likelihood of independent events. With each lesson, students work
with greater sample spaces and more in-depth challenges, relying on problem solving and deductive thinking to find probabilities.
After a clear understanding of independent events is established, the unit shifts
to the study of dependent events. The students manipulate materials in order to
form conclusions about combinations and permutations. Students discover formulas and methods for determining probability using authentic problems. Many of the
activities include strategy building and critical analysis so that students can begin
developing metacognitive skills.
A major focus of the unit is data collection and presentation using graphs,
charts, and tables. The students learn the importance of accuracy and how to most
effectively share results. They discuss sampling and experience ways to draw conclusions based on what information is provided. The students transform numbers to
fractions, decimals, and percentages to represent the values of probability. In
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UNIT 5: IT’S ALL
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M AT T E R
OF
CHANCE
addition, they reflect on their experiences through writing assignments. This allows the
students to reflect on their mathematical processes and provides a way to assess their
understanding of probability.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
Probability is one of my favorite areas of math. Teaching concepts related to probability often
involves exploratory games and experiments, which are engaging learning experiences for
students. I have found that the interactive discovery learning used in many probability games
leads students to a solid understanding of the basic concepts. Although I wanted students to
manipulate materials and create their own generalizations, I also wanted to be sure that they
could transfer the knowledge gained to other real-life situations. I found it necessary to reflect
on the games and relate them to the concepts and generalizations of the unit in order to
ensure that students were making these connections.
This unit is structured as a series of lessons that support objectives related to probability; however, it is only a sample of what can be done with probability. Numerous
authentic problems and activities can join or replace the lessons in this unit. In the end,
the goal is for students to understand and use strategies for determining chance in varying situations.
Most of the activities in this unit are differentiated by readiness level. Because I teach
a class of heterogeneous students who progress at very different rates, I had to be sure
that I created lessons that were appropriate for all learners. I added more challenging
tasks for advanced students and created flexible lessons so that I was available for students who needed my assistance. When students have learning challenges that severely
inhibit their pace or depth in a math progression, I work with a special education teacher
to select the key concepts and skills that are most essential for these learners. In most
cases, it is possible for the work of these students to stem from and relate to the key concepts and skills for the particular unit. My goal is to keep these students as integral to the
work of the class as possible while still addressing their unique needs. Although readiness was the main focus of my differentiation in this unit, I also made efforts to modify
lessons according to learning profile and interest. I provided students with choice when
appropriate and allowed them to work in various student groupings.
Mathematics Standards Addressed
• Describe events as likely or unlikely and discuss the degree of likelihood, using
such words as certain, equally likely, and impossible.
• Predict the probability of outcomes of simple experiments and test the predictions.
• Understand that the measure of the likelihood of an event can be represented by a
number from zero to one.
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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IN
PRACTICE
• Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments.
• Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line
graphs.
• Propose and justify conclusions and predictions that are based on data, and design
studies to further investigate the conclusions or predictions.
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Chance, Patterns
• Chance is the occurrence of an event with no apparent cause.
• Chance is random.
• Despite this randomness, we can determine the chance of the occurrence of an
event.
• Patterns help us determine chances.
• We can predict the occurrence of a single event by the number of possible outcomes.
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• Dependent and independent events.
• Equivalent fractions, decimals, and percentages.
• Data collection methods, including tallying and sampling.
• Factorial notation.
• Permutations versus combinations.
• Tree diagrams.
• Vocabulary related to the language of probability (likely, probable, absolute) as
well as outcome, prediction, experiment, sample space, and likelihood.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• Probability refers to the chance or likelihood of an occurrence or event.
• We can determine the probability of an event through mathematical problem
solving.
• Probability is based on the number of possible outcomes for a single event.
• The probability of independent events is based on the number of distinct outcomes, and the probability of dependent events is based on the number of possibilities.
• We can predict future outcomes by understanding the probability of the occurrence of a single event.
• A greater number of trials increases the accuracy of our prediction of probability
(the Law of Large Numbers).
UNIT 5: IT’S ALL
A
M AT T E R
OF
CHANCE
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Determine the probability of a single event.
• Determine the number of outcomes for a single event.
• Make predictions.
• Collect data.
• Express data as fractions, decimals, and percentages.
• Organize data into tables and graphs.
• Interpret and draw conclusions.
• Analyze patterns and trends.
• Relate the concept of chance to real-life situations.
• Apply factorial notation.
• Create tree diagrams.
• Work cooperatively to solve problems.
Instructional Strategies Used
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Brainstorming
Cooperative problem-solving activities
Differentiated writing prompts
Discovery-based activities
Gardner’s multiple intelligences
Group discussions
Jigsaw
Metacognition
Pre-assessment
Think–Pair–Share
Tiered assignments
Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
5.1
5.2
5.3
Unit Pre-Assessment
Mathematics Self-Assessment
Generalizations About Chance
Homework Assignment
Creating a Character Worksheet
Super Solver Problems
152
153
154
5.4
5.5
155
156
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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PRACTICE
Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Group activity and class discussion of
chance
20 minutes
Pre-assessment
20 minutes
Introduction
and
Pre-Assessment
Introduction to unit concepts and
generalizations
10 minutes
Homework assignment based on
student interest
Sharing of homework in small groups
5 minutes
2 class periods
Review of unit generalizations and
discussion of homework examples
20 minutes
Creation of Chance Charts and
partner activity
30 minutes
Wrap-up review
5 minutes
LESSON 2
Penny Flip
Introduction to the basic concepts of
probability and completion of the
penny flip experiment
50 minutes
1 class period
LESSON 3
Spinners
1 class period
Individual questions/supports tailored
to student readiness levels
Homework assignment based on
readiness
Sharing of homework
5 minutes
Spinner experimentation, data
collection, and data representation
based on readiness
30 minutes
UNIT 5: IT’S ALL
LESSON
A
M AT T E R
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
OF
CHANCE
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Class discussion of results and data
analysis
15 minutes
Homework assignment based on
readiness
LESSON 4
A Roll
of the Die
Sharing of homework in pairs
10 minutes
Exploration of the Law of Large
Numbers
40 minutes
1 class period
Self-selected homework assignment
based on student interest
LESSON 5
Review of unit generalizations related
to chance
5 minutes
Class simulation to explore more
complex probabilities
30–45 minutes
A Race
to the End
2 class periods
LESSON 6
Self-selected application activities
based on Gardner’s multiple intelligences and other learning profile
preferences
50–75 minutes
Product sharing
20 minutes
Review of unit concepts and
generalizations
10 minutes
Sampling:
Probability
Applied
2 class periods
Tiered assignments based on
readiness
40–50 minutes
Sharing of results and conclusions in
Jigsaw groups
20–30 minutes
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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LESSON
LESSON 7
Creating a
Character
IN
PRACTICE
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
Art activity to explore combinations
25 minutes
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Anchor activities for students who
finish early
Introduction to tree diagrams
20 minutes
Class discussion of applications
5 minutes
1 class period
Tree diagram tiered homework assignment based on readiness
LESSON 8
Sharing of homework products
10 minutes
Exploration of permutations
20 minutes
So Many
Choices
1 class period
Think–Pair–Share to discuss predictions and processes
10 minutes
Class discussion of factorial notation
10 minutes
Tiered independent activity based on
readiness and learning profile
30–40 minutes
LESSON 9
Anchor activity for students who
finish early
Permutations
1 class period
LESSON 10
Final
Assessment
2 class periods
Class discussion of independent
events, combinations, and
permutations
10 minutes
Formal assessment of understanding
and skill based on readiness
1 class period
Self-selected project based on interest
and learning preference
1 class period
UNIT 5: IT’S ALL
LESSON
LESSON 11
A
M AT T E R
OF
CHANCE
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
D I F F E R E N T I AT E D C O M P O N E N T S
Sharing of student projects and
further exploration of games
50 minutes
Closure
and
Celebration
1 class period
Differentiated Homework Assignments
Throughout this unit, students are provided with homework assignments appropriate to
their differing interests and readiness levels. Some are self-selected; most are teacherassigned. These assignments, usually based on specific prompts, allow students to
explore ideas and skills related to probability in ways that engage them and provide an
appropriate degree of challenge to thinking. All of the differentiated homework assignments in this unit encourage students to see and reflect on the presence of probability in
their own lives and stretch their thinking beyond the classroom.
Teacher Reflection on the Use of Differentiated
Homework Assignments
It makes little sense to me to differentiate activities within the classroom only to send my
students home to work on the same assignments regardless of their differing levels of
understanding and skill and their varied interests. Therefore, during the planning stages
of this unit, I considered how I might provide homework assignments that required all of
my students to work with my “non-negotiables” (the unit objectives) and yet respected
those students’ many differences. I also wanted to vary teacher and student choice with
regard to homework. Thus, I looked for ways to encourage my students to apply their
own interests to what we were discovering during class and for ways that they could
work at varied skill levels.
I also made sure to provide time for my students to share their homework with one
another. In this way, they realized that they all were working with the unit’s important
information and skills, and at the same time, they learned a lot about their classmates’
interests.
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D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
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IN
PRACTICE
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Introduction and Pre-Assessment
(2 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: Prior to the unit, create folders so that each student can
keep his or her assignments, activity sheets, journal entries,
and other materials together in one place. Distribute these
folders before each lesson.
I find that providing folders helps my
students to stay better organized. This
is especially important for my ADHD
and learning-disabled students, who
sometimes struggle to keep up with
their papers.
Group activity and class discussion of chance. Place the students in small (random) groups and provide each group with
a game or activity that is based on chance (for example,
Magic 8 Ball, Twister, Chutes and Ladders, UNO, Parcheesi,
Candy Land). Allow time for the groups to explore the
games/activities and then bring the class together to debrief.
This was a great “hook” for bringing attention to the subtlety and
frequency of probability in our everyday lives. My students were very
engaged by the activity, and it led
nicely to a discussion of probability.
The students shared ideas and
insights, and my notes of the debriefing discussion allowed me to informally assess their understanding of
chance and probability.
During this discussion, highlight how the outcome of each
game/activity is determined by chance. As the students begin
to use terms related to probability, record and discuss each
one. Ask the students to define chance. Explain that this math
unit will address the likeliness of an event occurring.
Pre-assessment. Distribute the Unit Pre-Assessment
(Sample 5.1, page 152) and Mathematics Self-Assessment
(Sample 5.2, page 153) handouts. Remind students that this is
their chance to share their strengths and interests with you
and that their responses will help you plan the unit. Give the
students time to complete both assessments. Work in a small
group with any students needing assistance.
The pre-assessment allowed me to
evaluate the students’ background
knowledge and skills levels. The
self-assessment added the students’
perspective: their own perceptions of
their skills, strengths, weaknesses,
and interests in the area of mathematics. Working with students who
needed help with completing the
assessments gave me a chance to
monitor their understanding.
Introduction to unit concepts and generalizations. Present
and discuss the five unit generalizations on the overhead and
make sure that each student understands the statements.
I also created a list of the unit generalizations on chart paper and kept it
posted in the classroom so that we
could refer to the generalizations
throughout the unit.
UNIT 5: IT’S ALL
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137
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Homework assignment based on student interest. Distribute
copies of the Generalizations About Chance Homework
Assignment (see Sample 5.3, page 154) and ask students to
come up with at least three examples of real-life occurrences
that would fit under each unit generalization.
This assignment requires students
to make personal connections with
the unit’s big ideas. I wanted my students to see that the unit generalizations related not only to math, but
also to other disciplines and situations. I provided struggling students
with examples for each generalization
to get them started.
Sharing of homework in small groups. Place students in
random groups of three and give the groups five minutes to
share their ideas from the homework assignment.
I find that having students first share
their ideas in small groups enhances
whole-group discussion.
Review of unit generalizations and discussion of homework examples. Next, lead a whole-group discussion of
examples related to the generalizations. Write students’ ideas
on the chart paper and highlight the variety of situations in
which probability and chance might arise.
During the whole-group discussion, I
listened for students’ varying levels of
understanding and ability to apply
their understanding to real-life events.
Creation of Chance Charts and partner activity. Distribute a
piece of construction paper to each student and tell the students to turn the paper horizontally and draw a horizontal
line near the top of the paper. Each student should create a
continuum by drawing five points on the line at equal intervals. One end of the line should indicate “no chance.” The
other end should indicate “definite chance.” Draw an example
on the board.
One of my primary goals for this unit
was for students to see that math is
all around them. This activity
addressed that goal directly. The creation of the Chance Charts required
the students to work with the concept
of chance and to use the language of
probability.
Refer students to the terms generated in the previous discussion and allow them to choose the terms to place along the
continuum.
By choosing their own labels, the students were able to personalize their
Chance Charts and use terms that
made the most sense to them.
Throughout this unit, I encouraged
the students to add to their charts,
which became important visual tools.
When all students have finished, have them choose partners.
Each pair should think of 12 events that might fall at different
points along the Chance Charts and write them on small
scraps of paper. (For example, “I will live forever,” “It will get
dark tonight,” “Another Harry Potter book will be released.”)
The students will glue the events along their Chance Charts,
and pairs of students should share and compare their charts
with others.
I allowed the students to choose their
own partners because I hoped this
would encourage them to take risks
and share unique ideas. Whenever I
use partner work in my instruction,
I’m careful to watch for problematic
pairings, which I monitor closely and
coach as necessary.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Wrap-up review. Conclude by revisiting the five generalizations and adding new ideas to the lists of examples.
LESSON 2
Penny Flip
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
A quick review of our work and
discussions.
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: Post the following vocabulary words at the front of the
room and refer to them as needed throughout this lesson:
experiment, prediction, independent events, and outcome.
I wanted these key terms to become
part of my students’ language.
Introduction to the basic concepts of probability and completion of the penny flip experiment. Write the definition of
probability on the board: “Probability is the study of random
behavior.”
I chose to have a group discussion
here for two reasons. First, I was still
assessing the students’ level of prior
understanding, which I did by making
notes during the discussion. Second, I
was laying the foundation for the rest
of the unit. This lesson involves making predictions; conducting an experiment; recording and graphing data;
and reviewing fractions, decimals,
and percentages. Because I knew we
would be repeating this process
throughout the unit, I needed to make
sure my students could use these
skills.
Inform students that they will conduct a coin-tossing experiment that will demonstrate the probability of a coin landing
on each side. Explain that the steps used in this experiment
will be used in more complex experiments later. Remind the
students to follow the directions carefully and to ask questions if something is unclear.
Before beginning the experiment, ask students to predict how
many times a penny will land on each side if it is flipped 20
times. Write students’ predictions on the board, and ask several students to explain their predictions.
Provide each student with a penny and a sheet of graph
paper. Tell the students to flip the penny 20 times and record
the results. You may have to help some students find a way to
record their data (for example, using tally marks).
Ask the students to share what happened during the experiment. Were their predictions accurate? Why or why not?
Using your own results, create a bar graph on the overhead.
Point out the importance of labeling each axis, scaling the
numbers appropriately, and including a descriptive title.
Tell the students to make their own graphs following the same
procedure and using their own data.
When the graphs are complete, ask the students to make true
statements based on them (for example, “The coin landed on
tails more than heads.”).
During the experimentation, I
circulated throughout the room posing questions of varying levels to
probe students’ thinking and encourage them to think about the implications of our experiment. I asked some
students questions such as, “How
many times would you expect the
coin to land on heads if it were tossed
100 times?” Other students were
ready for more abstract questions,
such as, “Will results always show
an equal number of heads and tails?
Should they?”
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Introduce the idea that probability can be expressed as a fraction, decimal, or percent. (For example, a penny has a 1/2, a
0.5, or 50% chance of landing on heads.) Have students fill in
these numbers on their Chance Charts.
Ask: Where should each fraction, decimal, or percent be
placed on the charts?
Conclude this lesson by asking the class whether they could
control the results of the experiment. Ask: Were you able to
predict your results? How did you make your predictions?
Were the results random? Why would people study “random
behavior”?
Here, I wanted the students to really
think about our unit generalizations
on the way to arriving at a clear generalization statement.
Students should leave the lesson with an understanding that
although we cannot control the results, we can make predictions based on the number of possible outcomes.
Homework assignment based on readiness. Assign students
one of the following writing prompts:
Prompt 1 (Lower Readiness)
Write four statements about the probability of a coin landing
on heads. Use fractions, decimals, and percents.
Prompt 2 (Higher Readiness)
Explain the following statement: “Flipping a coin is a fair way
to make a decision.”
Prompt 3 (Highest Readiness)
If a coin lands on heads the first time it is flipped, what is the
probability that it will land on heads the next time? Explain
your answer.
LESSON 3
Spinners
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Note: During this lesson, students use spinners to explore
probability. Although manufactured plastic spinners provide
the greatest accuracy, students can also make their own.
While some students needed more
practice with fractions, decimals, and
percents, others were ready to work
with more abstract ideas. Students
with more basic IEP goals worked
with homework appropriate to those
goals. I followed a similar pattern of
modifying homework and classwork
throughout the unit.
(1 class period)
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T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Sharing of homework. Begin this lesson by inviting students
to share their homework assignments. Use the students’ writing as a review of information and as an introduction to the
concept of “independent events.” Student responses to the
writing prompts can initiate this brief discussion.
I find that my students develop new
understanding more easily when their
own ideas are used as a springboard
for that understanding.
Spinner experimentation, data collection, and data
representation based on readiness. Those students who
have a clear understanding of the basic concepts of probability will work on the day’s basic task individually and then
move on to more complex problems. These students begin
with spinner patterns divided into fourths and then move to
patterns of different-sized sections (e.g., thirds, eighths,
twelfths, or a combination of many). Other students will
work with the teacher.
Based on the pre-assessment and on
my observations during previous
activities, it was clear that some students had prior knowledge of the
basic concepts of probability. Because
these students did not require preparatory discussions or teacher guidance, I allowed them to move more
quickly through a basic task and on
to more complex problems in which
the sections on the spinners were not
equal. Although these students were
working with more complex probabilities, they were still required to record
and discuss their findings.
On the overhead, display a spinner pattern that splits a circle
into fourths, each a different color. Ask questions related to
the probability of the different outcomes. Which color do you
think the spinner will land on first? Why? If we spin the spinner 10 times, how many times do you think it will land on
red? Be sure to have students explain their answers.
Assign students to pairs and pass out graph paper and a spinner to each pair. Instruct the students to spin the spinner 40
times and record the results on their own papers. Working
with their partners, students should transfer their results onto
a graph. Refer students to example graphs if guidance is
needed.
I created mixed-readiness pairs so that
those students who were a bit further
along in their understanding of probability could share their knowledge
with their partners. However, I was
careful not to make the differences
between ability too great in each pair,
as I find that doing so usually frustrates both students in the pair.
I identified some students I knew would
have difficulty with this task and
worked with them as a small group
rather than having them work in pairs.
Class discussion of results and data analysis. Bring students
together and discuss the results. Be sure to discuss the fraction, decimal, and percent values for the probability of each
color on the spinner.
Students chose the type of graph to
use to display their results. This
allowed them to synthesize the data
in a way that made the most sense to
them. I provided examples of different
types of graphs for students who
needed support.
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At the end of the lesson, have the students add these new values (1/4, 3/4, 0.25, 0.75, 25%, 75%) to their Chance Charts.
Compare the probabilities found during this activity with
those of the coin-tossing experiment. What determines the
probability of an event? Conclude by establishing that the
number of possible outcomes determines the likelihood of an
event occurring.
The Chance Charts again served
as a visual tool for comparing
probabilities.
Homework assignment based on readiness. Give each student a spinner pattern that is divided into different sized sections indicating a different color for each. (You can distribute
as many different patterns as you like.)
I assigned spinner patterns based on
each student’s readiness. Students
who had a greater understanding of
fractions received the most complex
patterns (say, a spinner divided into
two thirds and two sixths rather than
one half and two fourths).
The students’ task is to develop predictions for the number of
outcomes for each color if they spin their spinner 60 times.
They must also provide a rationale for the predictions.
Give students working at a more advanced level the option of
creating an original spinner pattern.
LESSON 4
A Roll of the Die
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Sharing of homework in pairs. Allow time for the students
to share their homework assignments from Lesson 3 and to
test their predictions with a partner. Circulate as the students
are working, and discuss the predictions and results of each
experiment.
Ask: How might these results differ if you conducted 80 trials?
One hundred? Two hundred?
Exploration of the Law of Large Numbers. Invite students to
share examples of times when they have used a six-sided die.
Ask: What are the possible outcomes when rolling a die?
Tell the students that you are going to roll a die 30 times. How
many times do they predict the die will land on 1? How about
on 2? On other numbers? Ask the students to share their predictions and explain their thinking.
I asked students who had already
explored this concept during class to
construct their own patterns and
make predictions about outcomes.
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
When they shared their homework, I
made sure that students were paired
with others who had used a spinner
pattern of similar difficulty level so all
were working with appropriate materials. Where necessary, I also substituted alternate spinner tasks relevant
to IEP goals.
This was a great way to get students
to work as a whole group to construct
the concept of the Law of Large Numbers. In my experience, learning
gained from interactive experiences
tends to stick with students.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Give each student a die. Each student will roll the die 30 times
and record the data using tally marks.
When they have finished, discuss the results. Did the results
match students’ predictions? If not, how can we obtain more
accurate results?
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
As the lesson progressed, the class
tested the “rules” of probability
together. Everyone’s contribution
helped lead us to a common goal.
The students really enjoyed this collaborative effort.
Next, have each student report his or her results and record
each on the board. Total the number of rolls for each outcome. Ask the students to explain why compiling the data
might provide more accurate results.
At this point introduce the Law of Large Numbers. Be sure
that everyone understands that the results of the experiment
gained greater accuracy (based on theoretical probability)
with a greater number of trials.
Discuss other examples of when this law would impact experiment results. Conclude the lesson by challenging the students
to find the Law of Large Numbers in areas other than math.
During our discussion, we came up
with other situations involving data
collection in which the Law of Large
Numbers would apply. For example,
the life of a typical battery might be
overestimated or underestimated if
one looked only at the lives of a few
batteries rather than at a large number of them. The same might be true
for the average height or weight of
humans.
Self-selected homework assignment based on student
interest. Ask students to choose one of the following areas of
study and explain a situation in which the Law of Large
Numbers would apply to it: science, psychology, athletics,
economics, business, or (with teacher approval) another
discipline of their choice.
The students chose disciplines based
on their interests. I worked with some
of my students to help them generate
ideas.
LESSON 5
A Race to the End
(2 class periods)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Review of unit generalizations related to chance. Encourage
the students to apply these statements to the activities completed thus far in the unit.
Because we had explored several new
concepts by this point in the unit, I
thought it was a good time to revisit
our generalizations and relate them to
our current understandings.
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Class simulation to explore more complex probabilities.
Split the students into two groups. Assign one student in each
group to be the dice roller. Assign 12 students in each group
to be runners in a race and give them numbers (1–12) to
attach to their shirts. (If the numbers do not work out in your
class, have students double up on roles.)
This kinesthetic activity actively
involved the students in the discovery
of new concepts. I believe it’s important for my students to have opportunities for movement in the classroom.
It helps them grasp new ideas and
keeps them engaged. This is an activity that works for virtually all learners. Students with physical handicaps
can still generally “run” this race.
Explain to both groups that the roller will roll two dice simultaneously. The person whose number is rolled moves forward
one step. The first person to the finish line wins.
Ask: Who do you predict the winner will be? Who cannot
win? Why?
Line the runners up on the starting line, and tell the rollers to
begin the race.
When the races are over, have students sit in the spots where
they finished. On the chalkboard, record how many times
each number was rolled. Encourage the students to tell how
they felt about the race.
By having the students remain in
their positions, I was able to use them
as “visual evidence” in our discussions. As we analyzed our experiment, the students’ positions
represented the results.
Give each student two dice of different colors. Tell the students to list all of the possible combinations for each of the
outcomes when rolling two dice. Remind the students that the
roll of, say, 3 and 4 is different from a roll of 4 and 3.
This next step in the lesson allowed
students to work at their own paces
and gave me a chance to check in
with students whom I suspected
needed some guidance and meet with
advanced learners to probe and challenge their thinking.
When finished, ask the students to describe the number of
combinations in relation to the results of the game. At the
conclusion of this lesson, it should be clear that the greater
number of possible combinations for each outcome increases
the likelihood of rolling the number.
Self-selected application activities based on Gardner’s multiple intelligences and other learning profile preferences.
Students can work individually, with a partner, or in groups of
three on one of the following activities. Directions for each
task require students to use mathematical reasoning and the
language of probability to complete their products.
Option 1: Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
You are one of the runners in the race. Write a letter to the
coordinator of the race explaining why this race was or was
not fair.
I differentiated these tasks based on
learning profile. First, the students
had the choice of working independently or with other students. Second,
they could choose how they would
present their understanding of the
previous activity and its relationship
to probability.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Option 2: Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Make a chart to display the possible outcomes when rolling
two dice. Find a way to prove that the race is either fair or
unfair.
Option 3: Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
Develop new rules for the race to make it fair for all
participants. Be ready to explain why your rules are better.
Option 4: Interpersonal/Intrapersonal Intelligence
Reenact today’s race in your imagination. Include dialogue,
inner thoughts, and commentary regarding the fairness of
the race.
Product sharing. Conclude the lesson by providing time for
the students to share their task products with one another in
pairs or in small groups.
LESSON 6
As students shared, I prompted them
to consider how knowing about probability helped them judge the fairness
of their activities or games.
Sampling: Probability Applied
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Review of unit concepts and generalizations. Review the
ideas and skills addressed so far in the unit. Explain that the
goal of this lesson is to explore probability further by solving
a real-life problem.
Because this is the final lesson on
independent events, I developed
activities that require students to
combine and use information in more
authentic situations. The goal was for
students to see how the rules of probability can be applied to a variety of
situations.
Tiered assignments based on readiness. Place the students
in similar-readiness groups of no more than four. Assign each
group to a separate area of the room and pass out the assignment instructions (written on cards) and materials. The tasks
are listed in increasing order of difficulty.
I grouped the students by readiness
level because the activities require
varying degrees of conceptual understanding. I wanted to ensure that all
students were engaged and challenged appropriately.
Task 1 (Lower Readiness)
You have told your friend secrets in the past. You figured out
that she has told others 9 of the 15 secrets that you shared.
Should you tell her another secret? Use probability to explain
your answer.
Task 1 provides explicit instructions
and the problem directly relates to the
concept of probability.
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Task 2 (Higher Readiness)
There are 20 seconds to go in the basketball game and your
team is down by 7 points. Your coach has instructed you to
foul so the clock will stop. The point guard has made 6 of his
last 14 free throws and the center has made 4 of his last 8 free
throws. Should you foul the point guard or the center? Use
probability to solve the problem and explain your answer.
This task requires students to take
greater responsibility in strategic
planning to solve a more complex
problem.
Task 3 (Highest Readiness)
You are trying to raise money for a 5th grade field trip. Your
class has decided to sell plain, chocolate, and cream-filled
doughnuts to the students at your school, but you do not
know how many boxes to order. You’d take a poll, but unfortunately, all classes but the 3rd grade are on a field trip and
you need to place your order today. How should you determine how many boxes of doughnuts to order for the entire
school? How does this relate to our study of probability?
Here, the students must relate the
concept of sampling to probability.
This task involves more logical thinking skills and an abstract application
of knowledge.
As the students work in their groups, meet with individuals
and groups of students as needed to ensure success with the
tasks.
This was another opportunity to do
some informal assessing, and I took
notes as I met with the students. I
made sure that all students—regardless of readiness levels—had the
opportunity to interact with me
one-on-one at various points during
the unit.
Sharing of results and conclusions in Jigsaw groups. When
the groups have completed their work, place the students in
Jigsaw groups to describe their activities and results. Questions for the groups to consider include the following:
I find that Jigsaw groups help to
ensure that everyone has a chance to
explain his or her processes. Also, the
smaller groups promote better listening and more open discussions.
• What were the steps that your group followed to solve
the problem? How does this relate to probability?
• How can you apply this knowledge to other situations?
• What do you think it means to take a sample from a
population?
Conclude this lesson by asking groups to share their conclusions about the presence of probability in real-life experiences.
Students working with IEP goals that
differed from those of the unit had
problems that used wording much
like one of these three tasks—for
example, related to friends, playing
basketball, or raising money.
I met with IEP students to talk about
how they solved their problems.
My main objective here was to get the
students to connect personally to our
study of probability. All students can
participate in discussions about
whether or not something is likely or
unlikely to happen in their lives.
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I injected questions about students’
interests, as well as very advanced
questions for students whose knowledge on this concept was advancing
rapidly.
LESSON 7
Creating a Character
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: At this point, the focus of the unit shifts from finding
the probability of a single event based on the number of distinct outcomes (independent events) to finding probability
based on the number of possibilities (dependent events).
I began this lesson with a wholegroup activity because I was introducing a new concept. I wanted to be
sure that all of the students had a
basic understanding before I began
differentiating.
Art activity to explore combinations. Provide each student
with nine index cards. Tell the students that they will create
flip books of characters.
This activity integrates art into our
study of probability.
Each student should draw three heads, three bodies, and
three sets of legs on the nine index cards. When the students
finish, they should pick up a Creating a Character Worksheet (see Sample 5.4, page 155) and begin answering the
questions.
While I worked with students needing
assistance, I encouraged others to
work at their own pace.
Anchor activities for students who finish early. Tell students that when they finish they are to work on one of three
activities:
Students chose the anchor activity
that appealed most to their individual
learning profiles.
1. Write a story about one (or all) of your characters.
2. Continue forming additional body parts for your characters.
3. Create another activity in which you can form different
combinations.
Introduction to tree diagrams. Bring the students together
and model the formation of a tree diagram showing all possible characters. Show students how each combination is represented through this visual diagram.
Have the students choose from one of their rows on the Creating a Character Worksheet and practice creating a tree diagram. Observe and note the students’ ability to create tree
diagrams.
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Refer the students to the table on the worksheet (see
Sample 5.4). Tell them that a formula exists for determining
the number of combinations based on the number of choices
for each body part. Give the students several minutes to work
on the problem. Allow those who figure it out to share their
thinking with classmates. Practice with a few more examples
to assure that all students comprehend how this formula
works.
Here, I wanted the students to
discover the formula on their own,
as discovery often leads to lasting
learning.
Class discussion of applications. Conclude this lesson by discussing when it might be important to know how many possible combinations exist.
Again, I wanted the students to see
the practical applications of what we
were studying.
Tree diagram tiered homework assignment based on readiness. Assign the students to one of the following tasks and
instruct them to use tree diagrams to show the different possibilities.
I assigned the homework based on
student performance throughout the
unit and during this particular lesson.
Task 1 (Lower Readiness)
It’s early Monday morning and your mother has laid out the
following clothing items for you to choose from: a red shirt, a
blue shirt, a white shirt, blue jeans, and khaki pants. How
many different outfits can you make with the clothes your
mother has provided?
Task 2 (Higher Readiness)
You are making cupcakes for a class celebration. Your classmates have indicated that they would like a choice of different
cupcakes. You have: chocolate and yellow cake batter; strawberry, white, and caramel icing; and green and blue sprinkles.
How many different types of cupcakes can you offer your
classmates? (You can draw each cupcake if it helps you to
solve the problem.)
Task 3 (Highest Readiness)
You are trying to determine your schedule for next year at
Scott Middle School. First period, you can take art, chorus, or
band. Second period, you can take technology or creative
writing or be an office assistant. Third period you can take a
foreign language: German, Spanish, French, or Latin. Figure
out how many different schedules are possible based on these
options.
Task 1 offers the fewest possible
combinations; Task 3, the most.
To scaffold this assignment further,
I provided laminated cards showing
the various clothing items for the students to manipulate.
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So Many Choices
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Sharing of homework products. Allow the students time to
share and describe the process of creating their tree diagrams.
Be sure that a variety of diagrams are presented so that the
students can gain more experience with this data-organization
strategy.
I like to encourage metacognition and
to give my students the opportunity to
understand others’ perspectives and
thought processes.
Exploration of permutations. Give each student four different-colored cubes and crayons. Have students determine and
record the different possible combinations when using two,
three, and four colored cubes.
Students first worked independently
on this activity so that they would
begin to build a personal understanding of the concept. I also wanted
them to explore their own strategies
for solving such problems.
Circulate through the room to make sure that students are on
track. If students finish early, ask them to analyze the strategies they used to find all of the combinations, and encourage
them to devise other strategies for determining the number of
combinations.
Post the following questions on the chalkboard:
• What did you do to find all the possible combinations?
• Is there another way to find all the possibilities?
I found that a few students needed
my assistance while others quickly
developed efficient strategies for finding the combinations. These students
could move on to analyzing their
thinking and considering other paths
for solving the problem. Meanwhile, I
worked with groups of students who
needed guidance in developing strategies to solve the problem.
As a class, review the number of combinations for two, three,
and four cubes and record each on the chalkboard.
I wanted to give as many students as
possible a chance to share their thinking. All students benefit from exposure to different methods, and this
kind of sharing helps them to see that
there is not always one “right” way to
solve a problem.
Think–Pair–Share to discuss predictions and processes.
Ask students to use the information just reviewed to predict
how many combinations are possible when five cubes are
used. Give students time to think independently about your
questions. Then, have students share their predictions in
pairs. Provide each pair with another colored cube so that
each pair will have five cubes of different colors. Were your
predictions accurate? Why or why not? How do you know?
Think–Pair–Share is a quick and easy
way to engage student thinking and
get them talking.
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As the students finish testing their predictions in pairs, place
them into groups of four to share and discuss their findings.
Provide another colored cube to any groups that finish early,
and ask students to figure out how many combinations are
possible now.
Class discussion of factorial notation. When all of the students have completed the previous task, discuss the number
of combinations that were found based on five cubes. Write
the correct answer (120 combinations) on the chalkboard.
Ask: Do you notice any patterns? Explain that a formula
exists for solving such problems and challenge the students to
discover it. Guide students to the concept of factorial notation.
It is important that you or a student explain the formula
clearly. Why does this formula work?
LESSON 9
Permutations
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Tiered independent activity based on readiness and learning profile. All students will undertake the following task,
working on their own.
Task A
Given the letters A, B, C, and D, how many possible
combinations can be formed? Solve the problem. Then
describe the strategy and method that you used to solve the
problem. You may use any technique to display your answer
(for example, a written description, a diagram, a step-by-step
set of directions).
Students who have a solid understanding of combinations and
permutations and who need additional challenge will also
undertake the following:
Task B
Describe the major difference between this problem and the
type of problem you solved during the Creating a Character
activity. Also, explain the formulas that can be used to solve
each.
Generating the formula for factorial
notation can be difficult for students. I
recommend searching for patterns,
exploring all operations, and manipulating the cubes. Although not all students will construct this formula,
advanced students tend to figure it out.
Other students will benefit from witnessing the thought processes of those
who generated the formula. I encouraged all students to ask questions to
help guide their growing understanding of mathematical thinking.
(1 class period)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
This differentiated activity gave me a
chance to assess my students’ grasp
of the ideas presented in the previous
two lessons. It also gave the students
a choice in terms of problem-solving
strategies and how they might show
their answers. I met individually with
students as they worked, providing
assistance as needed: review, help
clarifying thought processes, and
extra boosts to push thinking to
another level.
Because I expected these students
would be able to finish Task A
quickly, I created an additional task
for them to work on.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Anchor activity for students who finish early. Tell students
that when they finish their work, they should pick up a
copy of the Super Solver Problems (see Sample 5.5,
page 156) and choose a problem to work on and present to
their classmates.
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
The Super Solver Problems are more
complex applications of the concept
of permutations and are designed for
more advanced students.
Class discussion of independent events, combinations,
and permutations. Conclude the lesson by reviewing the
vocabulary and concepts highlighted in the three previous lessons: independent events, combinations, and permutations.
Discuss: How does understanding these things help us to
make better predictions?
LESSON 10
Final Assessment
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(2 class periods)
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Note: The final assessment for this unit consists of two parts.
Formal assessment of understanding and skill based on
readiness. The first part of the final assessment is a formal
mathematics post-test in which the students complete a set of
computation and application problems. Create different forms
of the test for varying student readiness levels in the classroom.
Form A (Lower Readiness)
The first test form should include questions such as the following: You have a spinner that is half red, one-fourth blue,
and one-fourth green. If you spin it eight times, how many
times do you predict that you would land on green? Explain
your answer. What are the chances that you will draw an ace
from a deck of cards? What are the chances that you will
draw a face card?
Form B (Higher Readiness)
The second test form should include questions such as the
following: A tennis player has won two-thirds of her matches.
Based on her previous record, what is the probability that she
will lose a match? A drawer contains three pairs of red socks,
four pairs of white socks, and one pair of black socks. What
are the chances that you will pull out a red sock? How many
times will you have to pull from the drawer to get to the point
where you have a 50% chance of pulling a red sock?
The first part of the unit assessment
evaluates students’ skill levels.
It made little sense to me to test all
students the same when I had not
taught them the same. I designed two
different levels of the test based on
my previous assessments. Students
were tested on the material that they
had worked with during the unit and
on the instruction that they had
received.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Self-selected project based on interest and learning preference. The second part of the assessment asks the students to
apply their learning to authentic situations that involve probability. Allow them to choose from two options:
Here, students transferred conceptual
understanding to “real life”—and
chose how they would do so.
Option A
Using materials in the classroom or brought from home,
create an original game with roles that implement the concepts of probability. Be prepared to show how the game
incorporates concepts of probability.
The goal here is to create a game that
is clear and original.
Option B
There are various stations around the room, each featuring a
game, example, or situation in which probability is a factor.
Move throughout the classroom and work at all stations. At
the end of the period, choose two of the activities and write
an explanation for a games magazine of how probability factors into each. Include as much information from the unit of
study as possible.
I knew that creating an original game
would be too intimidating for some
students, so I gave them the option of
evaluating examples that already
existed. Students with IEP goals that
were very different from this unit’s
goals worked on alternate tasks.
LESSON 11
Closure and Celebration
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
T E A C H E R C O M M E N TA R Y
Sharing of student projects and further exploration of
games. Give students a “chance” to share their original games
or discuss how probabilities factor into existing games. Then
provide free time for students to play different games.
This was a great way to end the unit!
Teacher Reflections on the Unit
Because math is so skill-based, you can fall into the trap of grouping solely on readiness.
At times, readiness grouping is the best choice; but many mathematical concepts can be
taught effectively using student learning profile and interest as the basis for instruction
and grouping. In this unit, the many possible methods for exploring probability invited
alternate strategies for instruction and I mixed up my groupings to give students many
ways to process and understand the unit’s main ideas. The most effective lessons considered students’ interests and varied learning profiles. It’s not always easy to approach
planning this way in math, but I owe it to my students to provide them with as many
meaningful ways as possible to make of sense of what they are learning and help them
see how what we study relates to their lives.
Laura C. Massey has a degree in gifted education and has taught elementary students in Georgia
and North Carolina. She can be reached at [email protected]
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SAMPLE 5.1— Unit Pre-Assessment
1. Tell whether each event is certain, impossible, likely, or unlikely:
a. Spinning an even number on a spinner labeled 2, 4, 6, and 8.
b. Pulling out a blue chip from a bag with nine blue chips and one red chip.
c. Snow falling in Florida in July.
d. Rolling a die without it landing on 6.
e. Pulling out a consonant from a bag containing five tiles labeled A, E, I, O, and U.
2. What are the chances that a penny will land on heads?
3. How many outcomes exist when one die is rolled?
4. If you had three blue chips and one red chip in a bag, what is the probability that you will pull out a
blue chip?
5. If there is a 1/6 chance that you will win the race, what is the probability that you will not win the race?
6. It is predicted that the Bears will win one out of four games. What is their percentage chance of
winning the first game?
7. You are given the choice of a PB&J, grilled cheese, or a ham sandwich with either milk or orange juice.
How many combinations are possible for your lunch?
8. Marshall has 15 cents. What are all of the different combinations of coins he could have?
9. If Marshall has only two coins and is willing to let you choose one from a bag, what are the chances
that you will pull out a dime?
10. Write 1/4 as a decimal and as a percentage.
11. Write 40% as a decimal and as a fraction.
12. There are 10 students who ride the bus to school, 8 who ride in a car, and 5 who walk.
Make a graph to represent these data.
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SAMPLE 5.2— Mathematics Self-Assessment
Directions: Rate yourself along the scale for each of the following statements:
I enjoy math.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I am good at math.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I am a good problem solver.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I know a lot about probability and statistics.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I know a lot about fractions, decimals, and percentages.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I understand graphs.
Never
Sometimes
Always
I work well with others.
Never
Finish each of the following statements:
My favorite part of math is . . .
My least favorite part of math is . . .
What I know about probability is . . .
What I want to know about probability is . . .
When we study probability, I hope we . . .
Sometimes
Always
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SAMPLE 5.3— Generalizations About Chance Homework Assignment
Directions: List at least three examples of real-life events that would fit under each unit generalization.
Be prepared to share your examples with others in class.
Chance is the occurrence of an event with no apparent cause.
Chance is random.
We can determine the chance that an event will occur.
Patterns help us determine chances.
We can predict the occurrence of a single event by the number of possible outcomes.
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SAMPLE 5.4— Creating a Character Worksheet
Follow the directions carefully. As you complete each step, think about how many options you used and
how many outcomes you found.
Directions: Draw three heads, three bodies, and three sets of legs on each of the nine cards (one body part
on each card). You will use the cards to create different characters. You may create any type of character
you like (person, animal, fantastical creature).
After you complete your drawings, manipulate the cards to complete the following tasks. Record your findings in the chart.
1. Make as many different characters as you can using . . .
a. Two heads, two bodies, and two sets of legs.
b. One head, two bodies, and two sets of legs.
c. Two heads, two bodies, and three sets of legs.
d. Three heads, three bodies, and three sets of legs.
e. One head, one body, and one set of legs.
f. Three heads, two bodies, and three sets of legs.
# OF HEADS
# OF BODIES
# OF SETS OF LEGS
# OF CHARACTERS
2. Describe any patterns you see.
3. Think about all of the mathematical operations and see if you can discover the formula for finding all
possible outcomes.
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SAMPLE 5.5— Super Solver Problems
1. Given the letters A, B, C, D, and E, how many permutations that consist of only three letters can
be created?
2. If eight people are competing in a race, how many different ways can medals be awarded for first,
second, and third place?
3. A license plate can consist of three numbers and then three letters. How many possible license plate
combinations exist?
4. There are six students in a group. How many different ways can these six students stand in a line?
5. Eight students in the class are running for the student council. Four of the students are girls and four
are boys. Each class can elect two representatives—one girl and one boy. How many different possible
combinations exist for the student council positions in this class?
6. You have seven picture frames, but only four will fit on the shelf. How many different ways can you
arrange the picture frames on the shelf?
7. Your teacher wants you to help create a word scramble for the students. Scramble the letters in these
words: run, gallop, crawl, and skip. How many possibilities are there for each of the words?
8. The school basketball team consists of eight players. Twenty people tried out for the team. How many
different teams are possible?
9. You and five other people have entered a drawing for a free movie rental. Two names will be pulled.
What are your chances of winning the free movie rental?
6
We Each Have
a Role to Play
A Language Arts Unit Introducing
Literature Circles
Unit Developer: Sandra Williams Page
Introduction
This three- to-four-week language arts unit uses various selections of fiction related
to the concepts of responsibility and choice as a backdrop for introducing students
to literature circles, a format for collaborative discussions developed by Harvey
Daniels in his 1994 book Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in the Student-Centered
Classroom. Literature circles include defined roles for participants to play as they
work together to analyze and understand a text. Students usually meet in groups of
six to eight, and participation is required of all students in each group. Because both
student roles and the structure and pace of the discussion are defined, no one person or topic dominates the discussion, and all share responsibility for the discussion’s flow and effectiveness. A key advantage of literature circles is that their
small-group format can make participation in discussions feel “safer” to students
who might otherwise be reluctant to speak in a group.
Establishing the literature circle routine takes time, and this unit is designed for
the beginning of the school year. While focusing on characterization in stories, students learn about three literature circles roles (Discussion Director, Character Creator, and Literary Luminary) and then practice and apply these roles as they read
fiction selected to resonate thematically with the requirements of literature circle
participation (responsibility and choice). Class time is provided for reading and
preparing for literature circle discussions. In addition, students have several opportunities to respond in writing to a variety of prompts. These prompts give students
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chances to connect with the material and skills presented during the unit and provide
assessment information regarding student understanding.
Teacher Reflection on Designing the Unit
As elementary students become more fluent readers, it is appropriate to move beyond a
focus on reading comprehension and to work to develop students’ understanding of the
elements of literature: setting, characterization, time and pacing, conflict, author’s purpose, voice, and so on. I knew I wanted my students to begin to relate literature to their
own lives so that they might be able to consider how a story can reveal things about
themselves, their world, and their choices and create their own interpretations of what
they read. I also knew that students seem to enjoy discussions of literature more if they
can actively participate in them.
When I sat down to design this unit, then, my aim was to introduce students to the processes of literature circles—a format I knew I wanted to use throughout the year. The idea
was to introduce a few key roles and then give students time to practice them with literature
that focuses on some of the principles that underlie responsible group membership.
After I had determined what I wanted to teach, I turned to the challenge of differentiating the content to accommodate the varying readiness levels in my classroom. My solution was to create differentiated role descriptions that would challenge learners working
at different levels of proficiency in reading and literary analysis. Once I had done this, it
was simple to create tasks that were appropriate for all students, including those who
struggle mightily, those who are very advanced, and those who are learning English.
Language Arts Standards Addressed
• Apply enabling strategies and skills to read and write.
• Apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
• Make inferences, draw conclusions, make generalizations, and provide support for
ideas by referencing the text.
• Listen actively.
• Make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language,
and media and technology.
• Apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
• Use planning strategies to generate topics and organize ideas.
Unit Concepts and Generalizations
Responsibility, Choice
• Responsibility and choice are interrelated.
• We all have responsibilities.
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• We are required to make choices all the time.
• Choices can have both good and bad consequences.
• Making thoughtful choices is part of being responsible.
Unit Objectives
As a result of this unit, the students will know
• Elements of characterization, including description, emotion, tone of voice, and
actions.
• The tasks of specific literature circle roles.
• Criteria for asking and writing good questions.
As a result of this unit, the students will understand that
• People share responsibility for success when they work together.
• Passages from texts can reveal a character’s personality.
• Accepting responsibility shows maturity.
• Making thoughtful choices is part of responsible behavior.
• Choices can have both good and bad consequences.
As a result of this unit, the students will be able to
• Plan and carry out personal responsibilities for group discussions.
• Ask thought-provoking questions.
• Listen actively.
• Draw conclusions.
• Make predictions based on textual clues.
• Analyze character actions and statements.
• Respond to literature through writing.
• Participate in student-led discussions.
• Relate literature to personal and community events.
Instructional Strategies Used
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Brainstorming
Differentiated discussions
Journal prompts based on student interest and readiness
Mini-workshops
Small-group discussions
Tiered assessment
Tiered assignments
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Sample Supporting Materials Provided
Sample #
Title
Page
6.1
Differentiated Discussion Director
Role Description Cards
Differentiated Character Creator
Role Description Cards
Differentiated Literary Luminary
Role Description Cards
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6.2
6.3
182
183
Unit Overview
LESSON
LESSON 1
WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
Overview of literature circles
10 minutes
Introduction of the Discussion
Director role
10 minutes
Read-aloud and role modeling
20 minutes
Introduction to
Literature
Circles
Small-group discussions using
prepared questions
15 minutes
Student evaluations of group
discussions
5 minutes
Journal responses based on student
choice
10 minutes
1 class period
LESSON 2
Review and introduction of
“thoughtful questions”
20 minutes
Asking
Thoughtful
Questions
Brainstorming/refining thoughtful
questions based on short text
20 minutes
3 class periods
Small-group discussions using
class-generated questions
25 minutes
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Journal prompt and whole-group
discussion
15 minutes
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DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
Individual/small-group discussions
for students who struggle with
writing
Introduction of the Character Creator
role
10 minutes
Differentiated tasks based on
readiness
40 minutes
Small-group discussions with
student-generated questions
35–45 minutes
Roles within groups differentiated
based on readiness
Evaluation of group work
10 minutes
LESSON 3
Class discussion of responsibility
10 minutes
Read-aloud modeling reading comprehension strategies
15 minutes
Finding
Big Ideas
Partner-work based on reading
20 minutes
Introduction of the Literary Luminary
role
5 minutes
Journal prompts based on student
interest
15–30 minutes
1–2 class periods
Sharing of journal responses
10 minutes
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LESSON
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WHOLE-CLASS COMPONENTS
Book selection and literature circle
group assignments, based on readiness and student choice
30 minutes
LESSON 4
Putting It All
Together
DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
Individual work to read and prepare
for the first round of literature circle
discussions
2–3 class periods,
30 minutes per session
Mini-workshops to address literature
circle role responsibilities, reading
comprehension strategies, and time
management
as needed over the same
2–3 class sessions
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading skills, roles and
levels of tasks, and student choice
of books
35–45 minutes
partial class periods
over a 2-week time
frame
Evaluation of literature circle
discussions
10 minutes
Debriefing on the literature circle
process
10 minutes
LESSON 5
Adjusting and
Tweaking
partial class periods
over a 2-week time
frame
Development of literature circle
ground rules
15 minutes
Individual work to read and prepare
for the second round of literature circle discussions
2–3 class periods,
30 minutes per session
Mini-workshops to address literature
circle role responsibilities, reading
comprehension strategies, and time
management
as needed over the same
2–3 class periods
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading skills, roles and
levels of tasks, and student choice
of books
35–45 minutes
Journal prompt based on student
choice
15 minutes
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DIFFERENTIATED COMPONENTS
“A Few Thoughtful Questions” activity
15 minutes
Individual work to read and prepare
for the third round of literature circle
discussions
2–3 class periods,
30 minutes per session
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading skills, roles and
levels of tasks, and student choice
of books
35–45 minutes
LESSON 6
Tiered assessment based on readiness
35–45 minutes
Unit
Assessment
1 class period
Literature Circles
My interpretation and application of literature circles focuses on students posing and
responding to questions in every role. This prevents a “reporting” level of participation
and instead offers students chances to ask and answer more interpretative questions. I
introduce my students to most of the literature circle roles and processes at the start of the
school year, beginning with the three that this unit addresses: Discussion Director, Character Creator, and Literary Luminary. As we progress through the first quarter of the year,
I introduce additional literature circle roles, among them the Illustrator, the Connector,
the Vocabulary/Linguist, and the Time/Travel Tracer. You can find more information
about these roles in Daniels’s Literature Circles (1994) and in Day, Spiegel, McLellan, and
Brown’s Moving Forward with Literature Circles (2002).
After the first month of school, I devote one day each week to literature circle discussions. The discussions usually take about 35–45 minutes, with additional time for reflection
and responsive writing. Students also need time to prepare for their literature circle discussions. In this unit—again, slated for the beginning of the school year—I provide class time for
this purpose and for them to actually read the literature selections. As the year progresses,
however, much of this work becomes homework.
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Teacher Reflection on Using Literature Circles
I use literature circles in my classroom because my students enjoy and benefit from the
responsibility that they require. As a teacher, I facilitate the discussion groups, but they’re
really “run” by the students. In addition, I like the fact that the various roles in literature
circles are flexible enough to allow for differences in my students’ reading and thinking
readiness. Using literature circles makes it quite easy to involve a full range of students in
challenging and meaningful ways. Once my students have the skills they need to participate in literature circles, I can shift my focus to creating the differentiated roles and tasks
that are necessary to meet their varying needs as we explore literature.
I’ve also found that literature circles provide an ideal vehicle for helping students
learn to respect and appreciate the varied contributions of everyone in the class. To me,
literature circles are also the best setting for exploring literature and for building
social/community skills such as discussion, cooperation, delegation of responsibility,
and respecting the ideas of others.
Unit Description and Teacher Commentary
LESSON 1
Introduction to Literature Circles
(1 class period)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Overview of literature circles. Begin the lesson by explaining
to the students that in this classroom, much of their work
with literature will be done through small-group discussions
called literature circles. Tell them that all group members will
participate in discussions and that, usually, each person in the
group will have a specific role to play. Other big ideas about
literature circles to share with the students include the
following:
My students like to know where
they’re headed in my class, and I find
that they are much more likely to
“accompany me on the journey” if
they have some idea about my plans.
For this reason, I began this unit by
sharing the basic principles that
would guide our literature circle work
and discussing how our class would
adhere to those principles.
•
•
•
•
Students have choices about what to read.
Different literature circles will read different books.
Literature circles will be formed based on book choice.
Questions will help focus the discussions to explore the
students’ ideas and their interpretations of their reading.
• Evaluation of students will focus on group participation
and collaboration as well as on content and skills
knowledge.
Explain these ideas so that the class understands them before
you move on to describing roles. Involve the students in figuring out what the ideas will mean for them personally.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Introduction of the Discussion Director role. Explain to students that the Discussion Director develops a list of questions
than can help his or her group talk about big ideas in a reading and share their reactions to the reading. Sometimes the
Discussion Director poses some specific topics or questions in
advance so that students can think about them before the
group discussion.
In addition to sharing this information
verbally, I posted the role description
in the classroom so that we could all
“stay on the same page” about what
this role requires.
Show the Differentiated Discussion Director Role Description Cards (see Sample 6.1, page 181) and explain that you
have prepared two different formats of the description to
address varying student needs.
Providing differentiated role descriptions challenges more sophisticated
thinkers to pose more complex
questions. It also allows me to provide question stems for readers
who might otherwise create questions
that only elicit knowledge-level or
yes/no responses. Color-coding
readiness levels allows for easy
identification and communication.
In the samples at the end of this
unit, the “Blue” version of the role
description cards is designed for
lower-readiness students. The
“Green” version is for higherreadiness students. For students
with severe difficulty in reading, writing, and analyzing ideas, I provided a
list of questions from which they, as
Discussion Directors, could select.
Share both description formats with the class, but only distribute the description cards to the students as needed. This
cuts down on confusion about who should do what in which
role.
Read-aloud and role modeling. Read aloud a short story or
portion of a chapter from a novel that includes strong character development (for example, “I Learn Firefighting” from
Ann Cameron’s More Stories Julian Tells).
I like to use picture books and allow
students to sit on the floor near me as
I read. However, I do try to limit
read-alouds to 15–20 minutes so that
we can move on to working with the
text.
Model what the Discussion Director does by sharing three or
four questions you have created about the story/text on an
overhead or poster. Focus on questions that draw on personal
experiences, expository references, and analysis of characters’
behaviors and thinking. Here is a sample set:
This modeling allowed me to show
my students exactly what I expected
them to do as Discussion Director. I
also posted the questions so that the
students could refer back to them as
needed.
• Julian and Huey are brothers. Can you think of ways
they are like brothers you know?
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
• Huey was reluctant to jump from the swing. What kinds
of things did he do and say to delay the jump?
• Julian thought his father was going to punish him when
Huey got hurt. Did you think so too? Explain your
thoughts.
• Julian says, “I would like to be the person who sees the
little spark that starts trouble and puts it out, like a forest
fire, right at the beginning.” What sparks did Julian not
see that got his brother Huey and him into trouble?
TEACHER COMMENTARY
My goal was to involve the students
in talking about the kinds of questions I created and help them understand why I didn’t create questions
that allowed for simple answers.
As I read these questions aloud,
I paused to explain new vocabulary
as needed.
Small-group discussions using prepared questions. Divide
the class into random groups of four to six students. Explain
that each group will have 10 minutes to discuss the text using
one of the questions provided.
At this stage, while students were first
learning about literature circles and
how they work, I divided the class
into random, heterogeneous groups.
Literature circle groups can also be
grouped based on readiness levels,
interest, leadership abilities, learning
profile, and gender.
Appoint one student in each group to be the Discussion Director. This student will begin the discussion by choosing and
posing a question. This student will also need to ensure that
every member of the group has a chance to speak. The group
does not have to discuss every question.
For this first discussion, I picked Discussion Directors who could get the
discussions started quickly but not
dominate them.
Tell the groups that they will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Before the discussions began, I
reviewed the requirements for listening and speaking. Sometimes students
need to be reminded about what it
means to listen respectfully.
• Everyone must speak about the question.
• Everyone must listen respectfully.
• Voices must be kept at a moderate level.
As the groups work, move around the room making notes
about participation levels and providing assistance as needed.
My notes informed later grouping
decisions and allowed me to provide
the rest of the class with examples
of students who helped peers
with responses, listened well, and
participated effectively in the
discussions.
Student evaluations of group discussions. After 10 minutes,
stop the group discussions and tell the class that literature circles will take place again the next day. Then give the groups
several minutes to debrief about their discussions: Did everyone speak up and listen? Were voices kept to an acceptable
level? How might the group improve its discussion?
Reflection time helps students
understand the discussion requirements more fully and improves the
quality of discussions. I make it part
of every literature circle routine, even
when the students seem adept at
group discussions.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Journal responses based on student choice. As a closure
activity, ask the students to respond individually in writing to
their choice of the prepared questions. The sample set, again:
I included this journal activity so that
students could work with a question
that they didn’t have a chance to discuss in their groups. (However, if
they chose to respond to the same
question they focused on in their
small groups, that was okay, too.)
I was also seeking some assessment
data about students’ ability to
respond to their reading.
• Julian and Huey are brothers. Can you think of ways
they are like brothers you know?
• Huey was reluctant to jump from the swing. What kinds
of things did he do and say to delay the jump?
• Julian thought his father was going to punish him when
Huey got hurt. Did you think so too? Explain your
thoughts.
• Julian says, “I would like to be the person who sees the
little spark that starts trouble and puts it out, like a forest
fire, right at the beginning.” What sparks did Julian not
see that got his brother Huey and him into trouble?
As students write, work individually with those who need
support for writing or need coaching to push their thinking or
writing further.
LESSON 2
Because I created a range of questions, students had some choice
about how they would respond to
the text. Often my struggling learners
prefer to respond to texts based on
personal experiences. The first question invites just that.
During “coaching time,” I make it a
point to work with a wide range of
students representing all readiness
levels.
Asking Thoughtful Questions
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(3 class periods)
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Review and introduction of “thoughtful questions.”
Begin with a quick review of the previous lesson’s discussion of literature circles and the role of the Discussion
Director. Then tell the students that today they will work
on creating questions, just as they’ll do when they are the
Discussion Director.
Asking thoughtful questions is a
skill that students need to work
on throughout the year and in
every subject area. Each of the
literature circle roles introduced
in this unit involves asking
thoughtful questions.
Ask: What makes a thoughtful question?
Many elementary-age students know
how to ask “closed” questions—Who,
What, Where, Why, and How—with
one right answer that can be found in
the text.
Allow students to share their ideas. Then post the following
list of criteria and relate students’ contributions to what’s on
the list.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Thoughtful Questions . . .
1. Require explanation, not just “yes” or “no.”
2. Cause us to think about the story, poem, article, or book.
3. Ask us to connect the reading to our own lives, ideas, and
experiences.
4. Use strong verbs.
5. May refer to a specific action, character, or event in the
reading.
6. Cause us to use our best thinking.
Ask students to look back at the previous day’s questions.
Do they fit these criteria? How?
To support the students’ ongoing work with thoughtful
questions, use this criteria list (“Six Criteria for Thoughtful
Questions”) as the cornerstone of a “question wall” on which
you and the students continue to post examples of thoughtful
questions and useful question stems.
TEACHER COMMENTARY
In Improving Comprehension with
Think-Aloud Strategies (2001), Jeff
Wilhelm suggests that students comprehend better when they learn to
generate and respond to a wide variety of questions. He lists four types,
which I used to inform my thoughtful
question criteria:
• Right There Questions: The
reader can find factual answers
in the text.
• Think and Search Questions:
The reader needs to look for
details and examples to arrive at
an answer or inference.
• Author and Me Questions:
Answering requires the reader
to think about what he or she
already knows, what the author
tells in the text, and how that
fits together with the reader’s
thoughts and experiences.
• On Your Own Questions: These
questions arise from the story,
but the answers come from the
reader’s own thoughts, not from
the story.
Brainstorming/refining thoughtful questions based on
short text. Explain to the students that in the coming weeks,
they will be reading several books that all have to do with
responsibility and choice.
I kicked off the activity by calling
attention to our unit concepts.
Read aloud (while the students read along silently) a typed
page from one of the following novels:
Excerpts are a fine way to “sell”
a book. I knew that I wanted students to read a book of their choosing
later in the unit (see Lesson 4); this
“preview” exposure was a way to
help them make a more informed
selection.
•
•
•
•
•
Hard Drive to Short by Matt Christopher
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor
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The day before this class, I gave ESL
students a paper or audiotaped copy
of the page I planned to read aloud so
that they could prepare. Ensuring that
ESL students can participate fully in
literature circles requires coordination
with the ESL specialist and the students’ parents.
Lead a whole-group brainstorming session where students
generate a class list of thoughtful questions related to the text.
Remind them to think about the “Six Criteria for Thoughtful
Questions” and responsibility and choice. Write the students’ ideas on an overhead for all to see. Aim for about
15–20 questions.
When students asked questions that
did not fit the criteria for thoughtful
questions, I coached them to revise.
For example, “That sounds like a
“yes/no” question. How can we
change it to make sure that it requires
us to explain our thinking?”
After a few minutes, ask them to think about which questions
would lead to the best discussions during literature circles.
Narrow the list to three or four questions.
After we had discussed the options, I
let the students vote for their favorite.
Small-group discussions using class-generated questions.
Ask the students to return to their (heterogenous) literature
circle groups from the previous lesson. Assign new Discussion
Directors and distribute the appropriate differentiated role
description cards. Remind everyone of the criteria for group
discussions:
I posted the criteria for group discussions so that students could refer to
them regularly.
1. Everyone must speak about the question.
2. Everyone must listen respectfully.
3. Voices must be kept at a moderate level.
Allow 20–30 minutes for the literature circles to meet to discuss the reading and the three or four questions the class has
chosen. Remind students that the Discussion Director’s role is
to help the group stay focused and move through the questions. Move among the groups, making notes about group
processes and individual participation and engagement.
Journal prompt and whole-group discussion. Pose the
following question and ask students to respond in writing:
Which question caused you to think and learn the best?
Why?
When students have finished with their writing, ask them to
share their ideas in the whole group.
My intent here was to have the students reflect on whether the questions
they had generated brought about
good discussions.
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TEACHER COMMENTARY
Because the goal of this assignment
was reflection, I met (either one on
one or in small groups) with students
who struggled to express themselves
in writing and we talked about this
prompt.
Introduction of the Character Creator role. Tell students that
within literature circles, the Character Creator is responsible
for identifying and analyzing a major character in the text.
Show the Differentiated Character Creator Role Description
Cards (see Sample 6.2, page 182) and explain that the Character Creator serves as the expert on the character’s thoughts,
feelings, actions, perceptions, values, dreams, and motivations. The Character Creator makes statements about the
character’s behavior, words, and feelings and asks questions
to help the group think about the character.
Again, in addition to reading the role
descriptions to the class, I posted
them for all to see.
Differentiated tasks based on readiness. Pass out a passage
(three to six pages in length, from one of the novels mentioned previously) that includes information about a main
character. Tell students that this passage will be the text for
the next literature circle.
For struggling students, I arranged
help with reading or listening to the
text. To make sure all my students
can access content, I often audiotape
myself reading text passages. If they
wish, students can read along while
they listen to these tapes.
To help students prepare for the next literature circles, assign
them to one of three tasks based on readiness level.
All three of these tasks address the
unit concept of responsibility. One of
my goals here was to find out what
students already understood about
this key concept. I used what I
learned to inform role assignments
for the next literature circle.
Task 1 (Struggling Students)
1. Read or listen to the passage.
2. Select one of the questions on the cards that you think
would be a good discussion starter.
3. Work with a partner to give a thoughtful answer to the
question you picked.
This task works well for students who
have a lot of difficulty with reading
and reasoning. I developed question
choices appropriate for these students
and then allowed them to work with
partners to encourage greater participation and mutual support. Later, I
asked these students to add their own
questions to my list of options.
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TEACHER COMMENTARY
Task 2 (On-Target Students)
1. Read the passage.
2. You have two choices here. Choice 1 is to write four or
more questions that would be good discussion starters. Be
sure to pose at least one question that has to do with responsibility. Choice 2 is to write four or more questions that get
us to think about the actions, feelings, or thoughts of a main
character in the story. Be sure to pose at least one question
that has to do with responsibility. For example:
Task 2 is more open-ended than
Task 1. It asks students to create their
own questions based on their reading
and then choose how to focus those
questions.
• How does the character feel about certain people?
• This character reacted to something that happened or
was said (you should give a particular example of this
from the story). What did the character do? How is
that similar to what someone you know has done?
• Which character would be a friend of yours?
Why?
3. Use the “Six Criteria for Thoughtful Questions” to improve
your questions.
Task 3 (Advanced Students)
1. Read the passage.
2. Write four or more statements about an important character. Then, pose questions that ask about that character’s
words or behaviors and that would lead to a good discussion.
Relate at least one question to the topic of responsibility.
For example:
• The character (give the name) acted foolishly when he
. Do you think he should be punished for his behavior?
• One example of how this character did or did not show
.
responsibility was when he/she
What were the consequences of this?
• Often, main characters have counterparts in the story
who cause them to have to confront a weakness or problem in themselves. Can you find an example of that
counterpart in this passage?
3. Use the “Six Criteria for Thoughtful Questions” to improve
your questions.
Task 3 is similar to but more complex
than Task 2 because it asks the
students to make a statement based
on the text and then create a discussion question. Notice that even my
higher-ability students got example
questions. (I removed this scaffolding
as they gained familiarity with the
format.)
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Have all students reread the passage (possibly for homework)
so that they will be prepared for their next literature circles.
Be sure that students who need support in reading the
passage have additional reading or listening time in class, a
tape to take home, or an adult or peer who will help with the
reading.
Small-group discussions with student-generated questions.
Ask students to reassemble in the literature circles they’ve
been working in and then pass out the appropriately colored
Discussion Director and Character Creator cards (see Sample
6.1 and Sample 6.2) to selected students in each group.
The groups will use the questions they developed for their differentiated tasks as the basis for the discussion of the passage.
(Because the groups are heterogeneous, there should be an
even distribution of questions from Tasks 1, 2, and 3.)
Remind students of the criteria for group discussions and tell
them that you will give them a five-minute warning before
the discussion is to end.
Evaluation of group work. Conclude the lesson by reassembling as a class and using a “plus/delta” (+/D) format to
evaluate the day’s literature circle. Leading questions to use
include “What went particularly well today in the discussions? Why?” and “What might make the literature circle
discussions even better?”
Again, I based role assignments on
student readiness with regard to the
ability to read and analyze text and
think complexly. I also made sure to
assign roles to students who had not
yet played a specific role. I have
found that my reluctant speakers generally benefit from the structure of
having a role and that students who
tend to be off-task pay better attention when they have the added
responsibility a role entails.
“Plus/delta” is a great evaluation tool
that is often used with adults. It can
be very useful with students, too!
Use an overhead or chart paper divided into two columns to
better show the students’ ideas, writing positive comments
under the plus sign and changes that would make the discussions better under the delta sign. Keep the students’ ideas
posted for future literature circles.
LESSON 3
Finding Big Ideas
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Class discussion of responsibility. Begin this lesson by asking students what responsibilities they have at home. For
example, do they help make or clean up after dinner?
(1–2 class periods)
TEACHER COMMENTARY
This quick discussion gave students a
chance to relate personally to one of
our big ideas for this unit before we
looked at it in literature.
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Read-aloud modeling reading comprehension strategies.
Explain to students that for this lesson, you will be reading
the first two chapters of a book (Matt Christopher’s Hard
Drive to Short) out loud while they read along silently. Give
them a brief overview of what you’ll be reading and tell them
that you want them to listen for anything having to do with
responsibility or choice. Stress that this is the purpose for the
reading.
I’ve found that my students pick up
on reading comprehension strategies
and use them more readily if I go
over the strategies and model them
in class.
Post the following strategies in the classroom so that you and
the students can refer to them throughout the read-aloud:
These strategies are addressed in
depth in Jeff Wilhelm’s Improving
Comprehension with Think-Aloud
Strategies (2001).
•
•
•
•
•
•
Set a purpose for the reading.
Make predictions.
Find personal connections to my experiences.
Visualize what is happening.
Check that I understand what I’ve read.
Try some different ways to figure out something if I am
confused or do not understand.
As you read, stop at various points and ask students to make
predictions about what is going to happen. Also, as you come
to places where you want the students to visualize (see in
their minds) what is happening, stop and give them a chance
to do so. Finally, be sure to monitor their understanding of
terms and sayings such as “let the ball hit the wood,” “the
ball dribbled toward the pitcher,” and “beelined for first.”
Partner-work based on reading. After reading the selection
aloud and discussing the comprehension strategies used,
allow the students to work in self-selected pairs to find a passage that shows Sandy making a choice and a passage in
which he shows responsibility.
Provide time for the pairs to share their ideas with the whole
class. Ask: What might be the consequences of these choices?
What would happen if Sandy did not show responsibility?
Introduction of the Literary Luminary role. Tell students
that the third role in literacy circles is that of the Literary
Luminary. Show the Differentiated Literary Luminary Role
Description Cards (see Sample 6.3, page 183) and explain
that the person in this role focuses attention on particularly
important or relevant passages in the text or reading that
show changes in the story or in a particular character.
Because I often assign students to
groups, I like to find opportunities for
them to choose someone to work
with. This was an easy place to do
that. Here, I wanted the students to
start thinking about and discussing
the concepts of responsibility and
choice.
Again, I also posted the role descriptions in the classroom.
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TEACHER COMMENTARY
The Literary Luminary poses questions that invite the rest of
the circle to consider specific passages and these passages’
impact on the story or article.
Journal prompts based on student interest. Give the students about 15 minutes to select and write in response to one
of the following prompts:
Prompt 1
Imagine that Sandy did not go home on time. Predict what
would happen next.
Prompt 2
What responsibilities will you have as you grow older?
What will your responsibilities be when you are 12?
Seventeen? A parent?
Although all four prompts require students to think about either responsibility or choice, the first and last
prompts invite some high-level,
skill-oriented thinking (predict, advocate, defend) while the second and
third prompts ask for more personal
responses.
It’s fine to privately encourage students who have great difficulty with
lengthy writing to list their ideas or
sketch and label their responses.
Prompt 3
When have you had to make a difficult choice, like Sandy did
in leaving the baseball game? How did you feel?
Prompt 4
Sandy had responsibilities to his baseball team and to his
family. Which responsibility should be more important?
Defend why he should make the choice to go home or to stay
and finish the game.
Sharing of journal responses. Provide time for students to
share and discuss ideas from their writing. Either elicit
responses from the class as a whole or set up groups of three
or four students so that more students are actively engaging
in the sharing.
LESSON 4
Putting It All Together
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Note: In this lesson and the next, both of which are spread
out over several class sessions, students will read a book of
their choosing and participate in three rounds of literature circles. In preparation, gather a selection of books that deal with
the unit concepts of responsibility and choice and that represent a variety of readiness levels and interests. Next, divide
each of the books into three logical sections.
The purpose of this discussion was
for the students to hear ideas that
might be different from their own.
(partial class periods
over a 2-week time frame)
TEACHER COMMENTARY
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Book selection and literature circle group assignments,
based on readiness and student choice. Show students the
books that they are to choose from. Here are some options:
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•
•
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Amos and Boris by William Steig
More Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron
Hard Drive to Short by Matt Christopher
Altogether, One at a Time by E. L. Konigsburg
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor
Provide brief descriptions of the books and remind students
of the excerpts you presented earlier in the unit. Help students make selections as necessary to ensure that they are
appropriately challenged (their selections are not too easy,
not too hard).
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I helped students to make wise
choices of books that were suitable to
their readiness levels. For example,
among the titles listed here, Amos
and Boris and More Stories Julian
Tells are appropriate books for struggling readers. Hard Drive to Short and
Altogether, One at a Time are slightly
more difficult in terms of reading
level. Maniac Magee and Superfudge
are another step up, and Lyddie and
Let the Circle Be Unbroken are the
most challenging of the group. If a
student was interested in reading a
book slightly above or below his or
her reading level, I allowed that student to do so.
Hand out index cards and ask students to write their names
on the cards and then rank their first through third choices.
While I want students to have a say
about what they read, I do not want
them to choose based on what their
friends are choosing. Here, I used
index cards to keep the choices confidential.
Between class sessions, review students’ preference lists and
create groups of at least three students (ideally, six to eight
students) who will read the same book. If more than eight
students want to read the same book, create more than one
literature circle for that book.
My goal was to group students with
similar readiness levels while accommodating student preference in titles
and achieving a balance of interests
and genders.
Individual work to read and prepare for the first round of
literature circle discussions. Set a date for the first literature
circles that gives the students in all groups a chance to complete the first third of their book and prepare to discuss it.
For the first literature circle, ask for volunteers to play the
roles of Discussion Director, Character Creator, and Literary
Luminary. Inform the students that they will all practice a role
while reading this round of books.
I gave the students who were taking
on roles the appropriate role description cards, differentiated by readiness
levels. This ensured that strong
readers and thinkers who were
reading a slightly easier book still had
a more sophisticated role to play.
Likewise, students struggling with
reading and/or responding to literature received role description cards
that matched their readiness levels.
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
Mini-workshops to address literature circle role responsibilities, reading comprehension strategies, and time management. As students read in class and prepare for their
discussions, provide assistance as needed.
It can be helpful to ask the students playing particular roles to
meet in small groups to give each other feedback and assistance as they prepare for their literature circles. Possible topics for role-related mini-workshops include identifying
keywords, creating organizers, and selecting and developing
statements about important ideas. Remember that “roleplaying” students who have severe difficulty reading, writing,
and analyzing may need additional practice asking questions
and leading discussions.
TEACHER COMMENTARY
I used mini-workshops so that I could
target the specific needs of individual
students or small groups of students.
I find that focused, need-based
instruction highlighting particular
skills is often a more efficient and
effective use of time than
whole-group instruction.
To help struggling readers finish the first third of their books
by the first literature circle date, consider supplying audiotape
versions, enlisting the assistance of resource teachers and parents, and using small-group guided reading. In addition,
allowing students to read alone or with partners at least some
of the time is a great learning profile differentiation that can
be quite helpful to some learners.
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading
skills, roles and levels of tasks, and student choice of
books. On the set date, place the students in their literature
circle groups to discuss the first third of their novels. Quickly
review the criteria for discussion participation and pass out
the appropriate copies of the role description cards.
Again, I based these groups primarily
on student choice and readiness levels, but I also considered interests,
gender, and personalities as I finalized group membership.
Allow 35–45 minutes for the literature circles, and at the end
of this time frame, be sure give the groups 10- and 5-minute
warnings so that they can make sure that everyone has a
chance to contribute and participate. Discussion Directors
should start the discussion, though all students are responsible for asking questions and providing responses.
As students discuss, move among them, stopping to listen to
and, if needed, spur discussions. Good lead-ins to get the students thinking on their own include questions that begin with
“I wonder whether . . .” and “Have you thought about . . .”
I monitored these discussions carefully—first, to ensure that the groups
were discussing ideas rather than just
retelling the stories and second, to take
notes on individuals’ participation levels and who seemed to be struggling
with reading level or content. The notes
guided my grouping decisions for future
literature circles.
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Evaluation of literature circle discussions. After the first
round of literature circles, ask each group to use the
plus/delta format to evaluate their discussions. In addition,
pass out index cards and ask students to complete individual
self-evaluations. They should name two things they personally did well during the discussion and two ways that they
can improve during the next discussions.
I find that both group evaluations
and self-evaluations lead to real
growth in my students’ abilities
to cooperate, listen to one another,
and think about literature. While
they certainly need (and receive)
evaluations from me, they need
chances to reflect personally about
their own performance.
Debriefing on the literature circle process. Before moving
on to the next round of literature circles, lead a whole-class
discussion about the literature circle process. Questions to
explore include what is working and what could be improved,
what students like and do not like about this process, and
how it has changed the way they look at books.
A whole-class debriefing is a useful
tool for further assessment. Here, it
also provided time for the class to
consider the process as a whole and
for groups to hear what others think
about the process and how they are
applying it. In that sense, it was an
opportunity for students to learn from
one another.
LESSON 5
Adjusting and Tweaking
(partial class periods
over a 2-week time frame)
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Development of literature circle ground rules. Based on the
group and self-evaluations students submit and the wholegroup discussion that concluded Lesson 4, work with the
class to brainstorm and finalize a set of formal ground rules
for literature circles. Here are some examples:
I posted the ground rules in the classroom so that groups could refer to
them as needed.
• Everyone participates.
• No off-task conversations or other activities during literature circles.
• If you disagree, speak kindly and respectfully and give
specific details to support your opinion.
• Build on what someone else has just said, using phrases
such as “Just like John, I thought . . . ”
• Take time to listen.
• Ask questions directed to people who have not had a
chance to speak up (“What do you think?”).
• Be prepared.
• Move on to another question after everyone has spoken
once.
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TEACHER COMMENTARY
Individual work to read and prepare for the second round
of literature circle discussions. Announce the date for the
second literature circles and give students class time to read
the next third of their books and prepare for the discussion.
Within each of the groups, reassign the roles of Discussion
Director, Character Creator, and Literary Luminary, choosing
students who have not yet played a role.
As my students’ familiarity with literature circles grows, I often ask them
to play particular roles for the duration of a book or novel. However, in
this unit—their first exposure to the
process—I thought it was important
for all students to get to practice at
least one role.
Mini-workshops to address literature circle role
responsibilities, reading comprehension strategies, and
time management. While students are reading their novels,
conduct these small-group sessions for students needing
support.
Again, these mini-workshops helped
me to address the specific needs of
particular students.
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading
skills, roles and levels of tasks, and student choice of
books. Students will follow the same procedures used during
the previous literature circles. As before, monitor the discussions closely and pose questions as needed. Make sure to
remind the students playing roles to pose questions that
address responsibility and choice.
Another round of note-taking and
informal assessment.
Journal prompt based on student choice. When the groups
have completed the second-round discussions, tell students to
select one of the following prompts to respond to individually
in writing:
These self-selected journal responses
gave me another way to assess students’ discussion participation and
their ability to think about and understand their reading.
Prompt 1
Did the literature circle discussions cause you to change your
opinion about this book or a character in the story? What do
you think now? Why?
Prompt 2
Did anyone in your group share an idea that was a new
thought for you? What was it? How has it affected your
thinking?
Prompt 3
What questions do you have about the book that have not yet
been answered? How might you go find answers to your
questions?
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LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
TEACHER COMMENTARY
“A Few Thoughtful Questions” activity. Reassemble the
class as a large group and spend a few minutes discussing the
second round of literature circles. Ask: What’s working? What
could still use some improvement?
I often find that my students think
that asking a lot of questions is better
than asking a few good ones. I used
this exercise to get them thinking
about whether or not more is truly
better. My aim, of course, was for
them to begin to create fewer—
but more complex and thoughtprovoking—questions.
Next, prompt students to consider the number of questions
they are discussing in their groups. Ask: Is it better to discuss
many questions or just a few? Why do you say so?
Show several photographs or pictures of artwork for about
five seconds each. Then select one and display it while you
share your observations about it (details, colors, subject matter, style). Ask: What is the difference between going through
all these pictures quickly and spending time examining one
closely? Which did you like better? Why? Which did you learn
more from? Why? How might this relate to the questions we
discuss in literature circles?
Here, I wanted to help students realize the importance of allowing everyone a chance to think about and
respond to questions rather than
rushing through.
At this point, you may wish to add another ground rule to
your list: “Take time to think about questions; do not rush
through them.”
Individual work to read and prepare for the third round of
literature circle discussions. Continue using the literature
circle process as students finish the final third of their novels.
Make sure to assign roles for the last literature circles so that
all students have a chance to play at least one role. Remind
them that they will have time over the course of the year to
learn about and play other roles.
Literature circle discussions differentiated by reading
skills, roles and levels of tasks, and student choice of
books. As you monitor the discussions and students’ abilities
to carry out their literature circle roles, look for indications
that they have grown in their abilities to participate in discussions and understand literature:
• Are they listening actively to others?
• Are they asking thought-provoking questions?
• Are they making logical predictions and drawing logical
conclusions?
I’ve found that my students really
benefit from using the same process
each time we do literature circles.
The regularity means less guessing on
their part, allowing them to really
focus on asking and responding to the
discussion questions. This is especially true for students who are struggling or those who benefit from
structure in their routines.
My assessment here focused on how
students’ skill levels were demonstrated in this third round of literature
circles compared to their skill levels at
the start of this unit.
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Unit Assessment
LESSON SEQUENCE AND DESCRIPTION
(1 class period)
TEACHER COMMENTARY
Tiered assessment based on readiness. Assign students to
one of the following assessment tasks, differentiated to
accommodate different readiness levels in regard to abstract
and complex thinking.
This formal tiered assessment
requires students to synthesize their
thinking about responsibility and
choice in the books that they read.
Level 1 Task
Choose two of our five unit generalizations. Provide support
for each of them using several examples from the book you
read. You must provide at least four examples for each generalization. Be sure to think about your literature circle discussions.
I designed this task—which is concrete, specific, and structured—for
my less abstract and complex thinkers. I looked for responses that were
thoughtful and accurate, based on the
stories and books the students read.
Level 2 Task
Our class learned to share responsibility for learning by participating in literature circles. How are the choices made during
the literature circles and the responsibilities required during
them related to the stories we heard or read during this unit?
To remind you, we heard stories about Julian and his little
brother, and Sandy and his sisters, and you read a book with
your group. What do these characters and our class have in
common? Give at least five specific examples.
This task asks more abstract and
complex thinkers to transfer their
understanding of our unit concepts to
the processes used during literature
circles. I looked for responses that
were insightful and accurate, based
on the stories and books the students
read.
As necessary, allow students who need support with writing
to work with a resource teacher, to dictate their responses, or
to tape record their responses.
I also provided lists of key words and
phrases and highlighted books to support these students’ writing.
Teacher Reflection on the Unit
I’ve conducted this unit at the beginning of several school years now, and it really sets the
pace for what’s to come. It gives the students a solid foundation for their future work with
literature, and it gives me more than ample information about where my students are
with regard to reading and analyzing literature, participating in discussions, and taking
on leadership within groups. I continue to use this insight into their “starting points” to
make instructional decisions as the year progresses and as we participate in more literature circles. Finally, I’ve found that the criteria for thoughtful questions presented here is
very useful in other settings and subjects—for example, when I ask students to develop
questions for history projects and figure out what’s important in our science topics.
Sandra Williams Page has taught in Georgia and North Carolina and is currently a gifted program coordinator in North Carolina. She is also a consultant for ASCD. She can be reached at
[email protected]
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SAMPLE 6.1— Differentiated Discussion Director Role Description Cards
Discussion Director
BLUE
Your job is to begin the discussion and help manage time during the literature circle. To do this, you will
need to
• Have several questions written out before the literature circle begins. Be sure to include questions that
have many right answers, not just one.
• Call on people to share their ideas or talk about the passage/book from their literature circle role.
• Help the discussion process go smoothly by reminding members of the ground rules as needed.
Discussion Director
GREEN
Your job is to maintain the flow of the discussion. To do this, you will need to
• Make a statement about passage/book your group read, and then choose four or more discussion
questions from a list that you have created. Make sure that your questions meet the criteria for good
questions.
• Ask questions and provide responses that address the concepts of the passage or book.
• Ensure participation by inviting others to respond.
• Complete all roles within the discussion time limits.
• Ask an evaluative, summarizing question to end the day’s discussion. This final question can deal with
the group’s work, the group members’ opinions of this author or genre, or personal connections to the
passage/book.
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SAMPLE 6.2— Differentiated Character Creator Role Description Cards
Character Creator
BLUE
Your job is to help the group better understand a main character. To do this, you will need to
• Make notes about the character’s thoughts, values, relationships, actions, words, and feelings. You
may use a graphic organizer to take notes while reading and share with the group.
• Prepare two or three questions that ask the group to describe in detail what they know about the
character.
• Create a diagram or illustration that shows people, interests, and ideas of particular importance to the
character.
Character Creator
GREEN
Your job is to help the group analyze the main character. To do this, you will need to
• State the significance of particular words, actions, beliefs, misunderstandings, and relationships to the
character. Which of these are most important? Why? Why are particular events, behaviors, conversations, and other characters important to the character?
• Develop a thesis (“big idea”) statement that relates this character to one of the concepts we have discussed. Prepare several questions to spur discussion about this thesis statement.
• Compare this character to others we have read about and discuss what they have in common.
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SAMPLE 6.3— Differentiated Literary Luminary Role Description Cards
Literary Luminary
BLUE
Your job is to pick out two or three passages in the book or reading that show important feelings,
events, thoughts, or moments. To share these with your group, you will need to:
• Read the passages aloud, ask someone else to read them, or have the group read them silently.
• Write a sentence or statement that summarizes why these passages are important.
• Prepare one or two questions to help the group think about and discuss the passages.
Literary Luminary
GREEN
Your job is to pick out two or three passages in the book or reading that are crucial to the group’s understanding of a moment in the story or a character’s motivations, thoughts, behaviors, or emotions. To help
your group focus on the importance of these passages, you will need to
• Read the passages aloud. If the passage is a dialogue, you may want to read it with another group
member as if it is dialogue in a play.
• Write a statement that relates this passage to one of our concepts.
• Prepare one or two questions that ask for others’ ideas and opinions about the passages.
Glossary
Concept-based teaching—Concept-based teaching
uses the essential concepts and key principles of a discipline as the primary way of organizing curriculum
content. For example, a teacher might tell her students
that history is the study of “CREEPS.” The acronym
stands for Culture, Religion, Economics, Esthetics, Politics, and Social issues. Students define each of the concepts in their own words, and these concept definitions
give students a yearlong (and, in fact, lifelong) lens for
viewing history. It also helps them make connections
between their own lives, current events, and historical
events. Principles that relate to each concept help students think more specifically about patterns in history.
One key principle they might examine is, “People shape
culture and culture shapes people.” Students can see
how this principle plays out in history and in their own
lives.
Anchor activities—These are tasks students automatically move to when they complete assigned work.
Teachers may provide a list of possible anchor options
and should encourage students to suggest other ideas.
Anchor activities must be important to essential student
learning and never just time-fillers. In classes with flexible pacing, all students will need anchor options. Still, if
a student is consistently finishing work early, it’s likely
that either the student is finding the work too easy or the
student is working at a lesser level of craftsmanship.
Big idea—This term is sometimes used as a synonym
for a generalization. It refers to the key understandings
a student should derive from a lesson or unit.
Concept—A concept is the name assigned to a category
of objects or ideas with common attributes. Concepts
are abstract, broad, and universal. They help learners
make sense of ideas and information because they help
organize and distinguish entities. They help learners
look at likenesses and categorize objects and ideas.
Concepts are generally stated in one word (for example,
pattern, probability, habitat, poem, perspective, energy,
fraction, number, justice). Sometimes concepts require
two or three words to communicate an idea (for example, rights and responsibilities, balance of power, checks
and balances, relative size, supply and demand, central
tendency, point of view).
Equalizer—The Equalizer is a visual guide to help
teachers think about tiering content, tasks, and products (see Tiering). As the figure here illustrates, it suggests several continua along which teachers can adjust
task or product difficulty. By matching task difficulty
with learner readiness, a teacher can provide appropriate challenge for a given learner at a given time. For
example, if students in a math class are working with
measurement, their teacher might ask them to measure
the surface area of a desk. If the teacher asks students
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GLOSSARY
having difficulty with measurement to measure the surface area of their bedroom floors as a homework
assignment, that task, on the Equalizer, would be relatively “foundational”—that is, similar to the familiar,
in-class task. If, on the other hand, the teacher finds
that some students have a solid grasp of the in-class
task, the teacher might assign homework asking them
to develop a plan for measuring the surface area of a
tree. That task is much more “transformational,” or
unfamiliar. In this way, both groups of students can
continue to advance their ability to measure surface
area, but at appropriately different degrees of difficulty.
The Equalizer: A Tool for Planning Differentiated Lessons
1. Foundational
Transformational
Information, Ideas, Materials, Applications
2. Concrete
Abstract
Representations, Ideas, Applications, Materials
Complex
3. Simple
Resources, Research, Issues, Problems, Skills, Goals
4. Single Facet
(rather than information recall) and asks students to
write their name and a response to the question on
their index card. Students turn in the card as they leave
the room (or someone may collect the cards). The
teacher does not grade the exit cards, but rather sorts
them in categories representative of student understanding. A teacher might elect to use only two categories (students who seem to grasp the idea and those
who don’t) or might elect to use as many as four or
five categories (students who understand little, understand some, have a basic understanding, have only a
few gaps, and have a solid grasp). In this way, the exit
cards become a vehicle for planning subsequent lessons aimed at helping each student continue to grow in
knowledge and skill from a current point of understanding. As an alternative, teachers sometimes use a
“3–2–1 format” on exit cards. In this instance, students
might be asked to write the three most important ideas
in the lesson, two questions they still have about the
lesson, and one way they can use what they learned.
Either approach can be modified to match lesson goals
and learner needs.
Multiple Facets
Directions, Problems, Application, Solutions,
Approaches, Disciplinary Connections
Great Leap
5. Small Leap
Application, Insight, Transfer
6. More Structured
More Open
Solutions, Decisions, Approaches
7. Less
Independence
Greater
Independence
Planning, Designing, Monitoring
8. Slow
Quick
Pace of Study, Pace of Thought
Exit card—An exit card is a quick and easy method of
assessing student understanding of a particular idea,
skill, or topic. The teacher teaches the skill or concept
that is central to the lesson and gives students a chance
to work with it and discuss it. Just a few minutes
before the day’s lesson ends, the teacher distributes
index cards to all students. Then, the teacher poses a
question that probes student understanding of the topic
Flexible grouping—Flexible grouping is purposeful
reordering of students into working groups to ensure
that all students work with a wide variety of classmates
and in a wide range of contexts during a relatively
short span of classroom time. Flexible grouping enables
students to work with peers of both similar and dissimilar readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles,
and allows the teacher to “audition” each student in a
variety of arrangements. At various points in a lesson,
most students have a need to work with peers at similar levels of readiness on a given topic or skill. But they
also benefit from heterogeneous groupings in which the
teacher takes care to ensure that each student has a significant contribution to make to the work of the group.
Likewise, although most students enjoy the chance to
work with peers whose interests (or learning profiles)
match their own, they may be challenged and enriched
by blending their interests (or learning profiles) with
students of differing talents and interests (or learning
profiles) to accomplish a task that draws on multiple
interests (or approaches to learning). Additionally, it’s
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important for students to work as a whole class, individually, and in small groups—and when doing so, to
learn to make good choices related to working relationships. A teacher who uses flexible grouping systematically groups and regroups students as a regular feature
of instructional planning.
Gender-based differentiation—It is likely that there are
predominantly male learning preferences and predominantly female learning preferences. On the other hand,
it is clearly the case that not all members of the same
gender learn in the same ways. The goal of genderbased differentiation, then, is to understand the range
of learning preferences that may be influenced by gender and to develop learning options that span that
range, allowing students of either gender to work in
ways that are most effective for them. Among the
continua of learning preferences that may be genderinfluenced are abstract versus concrete, still versus
moving, collaboration versus competition, inductive
versus deductive, and silent versus talking. Although
there is great variance within each gender, in general,
females prefer the first approach in each pair, and
males the second. However, it is important to remember that there is great variance within each gender.
Gender-based differentiation is one facet of learning
profile differentiation.
Generalization—A generalization is an essential understanding central to a topic or discipline. It’s a statement
of truth about a concept. Generalizations transfer
across events, times, and cultures. Like the concepts
they help explain, generalizations are broad and
abstract. Unlike concepts, generalizations are written as
complete sentences. An example of a generalization is
“Parts of a system are interdependent.” Ensuring that
students consistently work with generalizations helps
them to understand what the topic is really about. It
also promotes retention of information and transfer
across and within topics.
Intelligence preference—According to psychologists
such as Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg, human
brains are “wired” differently in different individuals.
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Although all normally functioning people use all parts
of their brains, each of us is “wired” to be better in
some areas than we are in others. Gardner suggests
eight possible intelligences, which he calls verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic,
visual/spatial, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal,
intrapersonal, and naturalist (see Gardner, 1993, 1997).
Sternberg suggests three intelligence preferences: analytic (schoolhouse intelligence), creative (imaginative
intelligence), and practical (contextual, street-smart
intelligence) (see Sternberg, 1988, 1997). Differentiation based on a student’s intelligence preference generally suggests allowing the student to work in a
preferred mode and helping the student to develop that
capacity further. Sometimes teachers also ask students
to extend their preferred modes of working, or they opt
to use a student’s preferred areas to support growth in
less comfortable areas. Differentiation based on intelligence preference is one kind of learning profile
differentiation.
Interest-based differentiation—As learners, we are
motivated by things that interest us, and we tend to be
more confident in our ability to succeed when we work
with those things. Interest-based differentiation
attempts to tap into the interests of a particular learner
as a means of facilitating learning. Interest-based differentiation can build upon existing interests or extend
interests. Further, interest-based differentiation can link
student interests with required learning outcomes or
can provide students the opportunity to extend their
own talents and interests beyond the scope of required
learning goals.
Interest centers—These are a particular kind of
learning center. Rather than focusing on mastery of
required knowledge, information, and skills (as learning centers do), interest centers allow students to
explore ideas or topics of particular interest to them in
greater depth and/or breadth than would be possible in
the prescribed curriculum. Interest centers can focus on
topics derived directly from a unit of study. They can
also address topics outside the curriculum. Teachers
can differentiate interest centers by encouraging
GLOSSARY
students to participate in those centers that address
their particular interests, talents, or questions.
I Spy—I Spy is a game that can be played with small or
large groups of students. The game leader (the teacher
or a student) finds an object in the room that has a specific set of characteristics, and the players try to guess
what the object is. For example, the leader might say, “I
spy a blue object that has two sets of parallel lines.”
Players look around the room and name objects that fit
that description until they select the correct one. This
game requires students to apply understanding of target
vocabulary, make observations, and use clues to draw
accurate conclusions.
Jigsaw—This cooperative strategy, developed by Elliot
Aronson (see Aronson et al., 1978), allows students to
become experts in a facet of a topic they’re particularly
interested in. Students first meet in small groups, sometimes called home-base groups. Here, they review the
task they must complete and clarify goals for individuals and the group. They then divide into specialty
groups, or work groups. Each specialty group is responsible for one facet of the overall task. Every member of
the specialty group works to develop a full understanding of the assigned subtopic or subtask. After an appropriate time, students reassemble in their home-base
groups. Each member of the group shares the information about his or her specialty. All group members are
responsible for asking questions and learning about all
facets of the topic. In effective Jigsaw arrangements, all
students are both teachers and learners. Teachers may
assign students to specialty groups based on assessed
needs or interests, or students may select their own.
Appropriately used, Jigsaw can address readiness,
interest, and learning profile needs.
Learning centers—Learning centers are a collection of
materials and activities designed to teach, reinforce, or
extend students’ knowledge, understanding, and skills.
Learning centers are often associated with physical
spaces in the classroom, as many teachers set up center
materials and activities in a particular area of the classroom and ask students to move to that area when it is
time to work “at the center.” However, learning centers
can also be more portable—“housed” in boxes or folders students use at designated times, then stored again
when not in use. Students typically keep records of the
work they do while at a learning center in order to
account for what they have accomplished during each
center visit. Learning centers can be differentiated by
having students visit only those centers suited to their
needs (compared with having all students move to all
centers), by specifying tasks and materials at a given
center for particular students based on those students’
learning needs, and/or by adjusting the time an individual student spends at a particular center.
Learning contracts—A learning contract is an agreement between a student and a teacher regarding a task
or project that a student will work on independently
and with some freedom. Learning contracts often provide some degree of choice regarding specific tasks to
be completed and the order in which they will be completed. This element of choice can help teachers
address differences in students’ interests and learning
profiles. Effective contracts focus on key understandings and skills that a student is to work with and provide information about the criteria for quality work.
Learning contracts require teachers to match learning
objectives with contract options so that students must
practice and apply important skills.
Learning stations—Learning stations are areas or
regions in a classroom to which students move on a
specified timetable to complete particular tasks.
Learning stations are similar to learning centers and
interest centers, but are less fixed than those kinds of
centers tend to be. Learning stations can be differentiated by having students visit only those stations suited
to their needs (compared with having all students
move to all stations) and/or by specifying tasks and
materials at a given station for particular students
based on their learning needs.
Learning style—Learning style is one facet of a student’s learning profile and refers to personal and environmental factors that may affect learning. For
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example, some students need quiet when they work,
while others prefer interaction or some noise. Some
students work best while sitting up straight at a table or
desk; others learn best in a more relaxed position. Differentiation based on a student’s learning style is one
facet of learning profile differentiation.
List–Group–Label—This is a type of concept development activity in which students begin by listing words
or ideas related to a particular topic. Next, students
group items in the list so that they are arranged by
common features. Finally, students label the categories
to designate the feature that unites the items in that
category. For example, if young learners had a list of
animals, they might ultimately decide to put dogs, cats,
goldfish, and hamsters in one category; starfish,
whales, dolphins, and eels in a second; and pigs, cows,
horses, and sheep in a third. Their categories might be
“pets,” “animals that live in the ocean,” and “farm
animals.”
Metacognition—This term refers to students’ thinking
about their own thinking. (For example, a teacher
might ask students to explain how they solved a problem or to monitor their understanding of a particular
concept so that they might ask for clarification.) It is
likely that students are more effective learners when
they are aware of both the kind of thinking a particular
instance calls for and the thinking processes they use to
make this decision. It is important for teachers to help
students develop a “vocabulary of thinking” and to
monitor their own thinking processes.
Mini-workshops—This is another name for
small-group instruction. When a teacher senses that
some learners need additional help with a topic, understanding, or skill, the teacher might conduct a
small-group teaching session on that topic to help
learners make necessary progress. The teacher may
open the mini-workshop to all students interested in
attending, invite specific students to attend, or do both.
A student who is particularly strong with a topic or
skill might conduct a mini-workshop for peers, as long
as the student is also effective in working with
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agemates and teaching what he or she knows.
Mini-workshops can be particularly helpful in guiding
students through complex product assignments in
which some requirements are not familiar to all learners. They are also useful for helping groups of students
at all skill levels know how to move to a next level of
proficiency.
Process log—A process log is a mechanism for helping
students keep track of their thinking as they work on a
product or other complex task. The goal of a process
log is not so much to record concrete details such as
the names of books read or the length of time spent
working on a task; its main purpose is to help students
think reflectively about their work (see Metacognition). What are their goals for a work session? Why
have they selected those goals? How do they know
whether they are on the right track with their work?
What are they doing to achieve work at the highest
possible level? When they get stuck, what do they do?
These sorts of prompts may guide students as they
write in their process logs. Typically, teachers collect
and review process logs at assigned checkpoints while
work is in progress and again when students turn in a
finished product. The process log allows insight into
the process of working and the product of the work.
RAFT activities—RAFTs take their name from the first
letter of four words: Role, Audience, Format, and Topic.
In a RAFT, students play a specified role, for a particular audience, in a named format, regarding a topic that
gets at the core of meaning for that topic. For example,
during a study of punctuation, a student may take on
the role of a semicolon, for an audience of 5th graders,
in the format of a personal letter, and on the topic, “I
wish you really understood where I belong.” RAFTs
allow differentiation by readiness, interest, and learning
profile.
Readiness-based differentiation—Our best understanding of how people learn is that they begin with
past knowledge, understanding, and skill and extend
those to new levels of complexity or sophistication.
Further, we learn best when the work we do is a little
GLOSSARY
too hard for us. What that means is that we have a
sense of both what the task calls for and the gaps in
our capacity to do what it asks of us. When these gaps
are not present (in other words, when we can do a task
effortlessly), we do not learn because we do not stretch
what we already know. Similarly, when the gaps are
too great, we cannot span them and do not learn.
Learning takes place when we have to stretch a manageable amount and do so. Readiness-based differentiation attempts to design student work at varied levels of
challenge so that each student has to stretch a manageable amount and is supported in doing so.
Rubrics—Rubrics are tools that guide the evaluation of
student work and clarify student understanding of
expectations for quality work. Generally, rubrics specify
several categories of significance in achieving quality
(for example, quality of research, quality of expression,
and work habits). In addition, a rubric describes how
various levels of quality in each of the designated categories would look. The most effective rubrics help students explore qualitative differences in their work,
rather than quantitative differences. For example, it is
not necessarily an indication that a student has done
better work if he or she used five resources rather than
four. A more appropriate indication of quality is that
the student synthesized understandings from several
reliable resources.
Scaffolding—Scaffolding refers to any support system
that enables students to succeed with tasks they find
genuinely challenging. Goals of scaffolding include
helping students be clear about the task’s purpose and
directions and helping students stay focused, meet the
expectations for quality of work, find and use appropriate sources of information, and work effectively and
efficiently. The many types of scaffolding include study
guides, step-by-step directions, comprehension strategies, use of a tape recording or video to support reading
or understanding, modeling, icons that help interpret
print, guided lectures, and multimode teaching. When
tasks are appropriately challenging (a little too difficult
for the student attempting the task), all students need
scaffolding in order to grow and succeed.
Simulations—Simulations are activities designed to
allow students to work as experts (or real people in
general) might work with contexts or problems that are
more authentic than is often the case in school. For
example, students might simulate scientists trying to
clean up a polluted area of a nearby estuary, or a family going west during the time of westward expansion
in the United States. Typically, simulations include
directions or requirements for steps the students must
take as they “act out” or simulate an event. This helps
to ensure that student attention is focused on important
understandings and skills, while still leaving room for
student contribution and creativity.
Skills—Skills are the actions students should be able to
perform or demonstrate as the result of a lesson, a
series of lessons, or a unit of study. There are many
categories of skills important to student learning. Some
of those categories (with examples of skills in each) are
basic skills (reading, writing, computing); thinking
skills (synthesizing, summarizing; creating, defending a
point of view, examining evidence); production skills
(planning, setting goals, evaluating progress, asking
important questions); skills of a discipline (map reading
in geography, recognizing tones in music, interpreting
metaphorical language in language arts); and social
skills (listening, empathizing, considering multiple perspectives on an issue, taking turns). When identifying
the skills students should master in any unit, lesson, or
lessons, teachers should be aware of both the categories of skills and the specific skills. Teaching those skills
explicitly is at least as important as teaching information explicitly.
Thinking maps—These are visual representations of
ideas that allow a student to “unpack” their thinking
and organize ideas in a visual format rather than solely
in sentences or paragraphs. Thinking maps can be used
with the whole class or small groups to construct
meaning, or by individuals to plan writing, projects, or
other tasks. Thinking maps can also be helpful as an
assessment tool for teachers as they examine how students are thinking about particular topics or ideas.
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Think–Pair–Share (T–P–S)—This instructional strategy, developed by Frank Lyman (1992), is used to
engage all learners in thinking and talking about a
question or issue important to a current area of study.
Typically, the teacher begins a T–P–S by posing an
important thought question. Students are asked to
write their ideas or think about the question, working
silently until the teacher calls time (usually two to three
minutes). This is the thinking phase of the process. In
the second phase, pairing, students turn to a peer and
exchange their thoughts about the question. In the final
phase, sharing, the teacher restates the question for the
class as a whole and leads the class in a discussion of
the question. The Think–Pair–Share strategy increases
the likelihood that all students will engage with the
question, will have something to contribute to the final
discussion, and will be more invested in the outcome
of the discussion than they would have been if the
question had simply been posed once to the entire
class and answered by the first student to raise a hand.
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Tiering—Tiering is a process of adjusting the degree of
difficulty of a question, task, or product to match a student’s current readiness level. To tier an assignment, a
teacher 1) determines what students should know,
understand, and be able to do as a result of the task;
2) considers the readiness range of students relative to
these goals; 3) develops or selects an activity that is
interesting, requires high-level thought, and causes students to work with the specified knowledge, understanding, and skill; 4) determines the complexity level
of that starting-point task compared with the range of
student readiness; 5) develops multiple versions of the
task at different levels of difficulty, ensuring that all
versions focus on the essential knowledge, understanding, and skill; and 6) assigns students to the various
versions of the task at levels likely to provide attainable
challenge. To guide development of multiple versions of
the task, a teacher may use the continua of the Equalizer (see Equalizer), use supporting materials that
range from basic to advanced, provide forms of expression that range from very familiar to very unfamiliar,
or relate the task to experiences that range from very
familiar to very unfamiliar.
Resources on Differentiation
and Related Topics
understanding and foster a love of reading. Jefferson
City, MO: Scholastic, Inc.
Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Erickson, H. (2002). Concept-based curriculum and
instruction: Teaching beyond the facts (2nd ed.).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Aronson, E., Blaney, N., Stephin, C., Sikes, J., & Snapp,
M. (1978). The jigsaw classroom. Beverly Hills, CA:
Sage Publications.
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory
in practice. New York: Basic Books.
Black, H., & Black, S. (1990). Organizing thinking:
Book one. Pacific Grove, CA: Critical Thinking Press
& Software.
Gardner, H. (1997). Reflections on multiple
intelligences: The theory in practice. Phi Delta
Kappan, 78(5), 200–207.
Campbell, L., Campbell, C., & Dickinson, D. (1996).
Teaching and learning through multiple intelligences.
Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Gartin, B., Murdick, N., Imbeau, M., & Perner, D.
(2003). Differentiating instruction for students with
developmental disabilities in inclusive classrooms.
Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
Cohen, E. (1994). Designing groupwork: Strategies for
the heterogeneous classroom (2nd ed.). New York:
Teachers College Press.
Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How to reach and teach all learners,
grades 3–12. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
Cohen, E., & Benton, J. (1988). Making groupwork
work. American Educator, 12(3), 10–17, 45–46.
Cole, R. (Ed.). (2001). More strategies for educating
everybody’s children. Alexandria, VA: Association
for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Daniels, H. (1994). Literature circles: Voice and choice
in the student-centered classroom. York, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Hoffman, B., & Thomas, K. (1999). Multiple
intelligences: Teaching kids the way they learn,
grade 3. Torrance, CA: Frank Schaffer Publications,
Inc.
Day, J., Spiegel, D., McLellan, J., & Brown, V. (2002).
Moving forward with literature circles: How to plan,
manage, and evaluate literature circles that deepen
Hyerle, D. (2000). A field guide to using visual tools.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development.
191
192
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
Kiernan, L. J. (Producer/Writer). (1997). Differentiating
instruction [Video staff development series]. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Kiernan, L. J. (Producer/Writer). (2000). Differentiated
instruction [Web-based professional development
course]. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development. Available at
http://www.ascd.org/framepdonline.html.
IN
PRACTICE
Strachota, B. (1996). On their side: Helping children
take charge of their learning. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Society for Children.
Taba, H. (1971). A teacher’s handbook to elementary
social studies; an inductive approach (2nd ed.).
Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
Tomlinson, C. (1995, Spring). Deciding to differentiate
instruction in middle school: One school’s journey.
Gifted Child Quarterly, 39(2), 77–87.
Kiernan, L. J. (Producer/Writer). (2001). At work in the
differentiated classroom [Video staff development
series]. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. (1996). Differentiating instruction for
mixed-ability classrooms: An ASCD professional
inquiry kit. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Kiernan, L. J. (Producer/Writer). (2001). A visit to a
differentiated classroom [Video staff development
series]. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. (1998, November). For integration and
differentiation choose concepts over topics. Middle
School Journal, 30(2), 3–8.
Kiernan, L. J. (Producer/Writer). (2003). Instructional
Strategies for the Differentiated Classroom [Video
staff development series]. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Lyman, F. (1992). Think–Pair–Share, Thinktrix,
Thinklinks, and Weird Facts: An interactive system
for cooperative thinking. In N. Davidson & T.
Worsham (Eds.), Enhancing thinking through cooperative learning (pp. 169–181). New York: Teachers
College Press.
Nottage, C., & Morse, V. (2000). Independent investigation method: A 7-step method of student success in
the research process. Kingston, NH: Active Learning
Systems.
Parks, S., & Black, H. (1992). Organizing thinking:
Book two. Pacific Grove, CA: Critical Thinking Press
& Software.
Sharan, S. (Ed.). (1999). Handbook of cooperative
learning methods (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Silver, H., Strong, R., & Perini, M. (2000). So each may
learn: Integrating learning styles and multiple
intelligences. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Sternberg, R. (1988). The triarchic mind: A new theory
of human intelligence. New York: Viking Press.
Sternberg, R. (1997, March). What does it mean to be
smart? Educational Leadership, 54(6), 20–24.
Tomlinson, C. (1999a). The differentiated classroom:
Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria,
VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development.
Tomlinson, C. (1999b). Leadership for differentiated
classrooms. The School Administrator, 56(9), 6–11.
Tomlinson, C. (1999, September). Mapping a route
toward differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 57(1), 12–16.
Tomlinson, C. (2000, September). Reconcilable differences: Standards-based teaching and differentiation.
Educational Leadership, 58(1), 6–11.
Tomlinson, C. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in
mixed-ability classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development.
Tomlinson, C., & Allan, S. (2000). Leadership for differentiating schools and classrooms. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development.
Tomlinson, C., & Eidson, C. (2003). Differentiation in
practice: A resource guide for differentiating curriculum, grades 5–9. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C., & Kalbfleisch, L. (1998, November).
Teach me, teach my brain: A call for differentiated
classrooms. Educational Leadership, 56(3), 52–55.
Tomlinson, C., Kaplan, S., Renzulli, J., Purcell, J.,
Leppien, J., & Burns, D. (2001). The parallel curriculum: A design to develop high potential and
RESOURCES
ON
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
challenge high-ability learners. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Corwin Press.
Tompkins, G. (1998). 50 literacy strategies step by step.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Wiggins, G. (1993). Assessing student performance:
Exploring the purpose and limits of testing. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by
design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development.
Wilhelm, J. (2001). Improving comprehension with
think-aloud strategies. Jefferson City, MO: Scholastic, Inc.
Winebrenner, S. (1992). Teaching gifted kids in the regular classroom: Strategies and techniques every
teacher can use to meet the academic needs of the
gifted and talented. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit
Publications.
AND
R E L AT E D T O P I C S
Winebrenner, S. (1996). Teaching kids with learning
difficulties in the regular classroom: Strategies and
techniques every teacher can use to challenge and
motivate struggling students. Minneapolis, MN: Free
Spirit Publications.
Also helpful:
Exemplars K–12 (http://www.exemplars.com) is a
source for standards-based, tiered lessons with rubrics
and student examples in mathematics, science, reading,
writing, and research skills. Contact Exemplars,
271 Poker Hill Road, Underhill, VT, 05489.
HOTT LINX (http://hottlinx.org) is an online source
for differentiated units, lessons, and instructional
strategies, K–12.
193
Index
Note: References to figures are followed by the letter f. References to samples are followed by the letter s.
analytical intelligence, 77, 186
anchor activities
defined, 184
examples, 38s, 61s, 156s
interest-based choices, 45
learning centers as, 22, 23, 28, 38s
learning contracts as, 72
learning profile differences and, 45,
146, 155s
readiness-differentiated, 38s, 150,
156s
application activities, 104, 116, 117,
143–144
assessment. See also products, differentiating student
formal, 58–59, 85, 103, 118–119, 136,
150–151, 180
individual, 25
informal, during discussions, 24, 29,
35, 138, 176, 179
informal, during small group work,
145, 166
interest self-inventory, 95–96
linked to instruction, 6–7, 52, 101
modifying for skill deficits, 59, 85
multiple tasks in, 58–59
observation, 24
peer, 45–46
“plus/delta “ evaluation tool, 172
pre-assessment
formal, 25, 103, 136, 152s
informal, 45–47, 74, 102–103
writing activity as, 103
assessment (continued)
readiness-based differentiation and,
37, 150, 180
self-assessment
of interests, 136, 153s
of learning styles and interests,
95–96
reflecting on group work, 166, 177
of subject knowledge, 101–102,
136, 153s
self-selecting final products, 118–119,
124s
in small-groups, 145
3–2–1 activity, 117
assignments. See project assignments
At Work in the Differentiated Classroom
(video), ix
audiotapes, 12f, 172
auditory learners, 12f
big ideas, 76, 164, 172, 184. See also
generalizations
books-on-tape, 12f, 172
brainstorming, 33, 57, 102–103, 104, 112,
168, 169, 177
buddy reading, 12f
checklists, 51, 73
classroom elements
about, 3–6, 4f
differentiating, 10–11
using flexibly in good practice, 7
closure activities
194
closure activities (continued)
acrostic activity, 59
alphabet bag, 48, 78
as assessments, 60, 78
discussions for, 106, 114
exit card, 112, 117
3–2–1 activity, 58, 117
compatibility, in grouping, 51, 54
concept attainment lessons, 31
concept-based teaching, 15, 184
concepts, 184
content, differentiating classroom, 5,
12–13f
contracts, final product, 119, 125s
contracts, learning, 72–73, 87s–92s, 187
creative intelligence, 78, 186
creative thinking, 53, 110, 168
culture-based differentiation, 74
The Differentiated Classroom: Responding
to the Needs of All Learners
(Tomlinson), ix
differentiated instruction
ASCD publications on, ix–x
classroom elements affecting, 3–6
defined, 1–2
and elementary years, x
key principles of, 6–9
planning for, 9–11
student characteristics and, 3–4
student profile examples, 2s–3s
Differentiating Instruction for Mixed-Ability Classrooms (Tomlinson), ix
INDEX
Differentiating Instruction (video), ix
Differentiation in Practice: A Resource
Guide for Differentiating Curriculum,
Grades 5–9 (Tomlinson & Eidson), x
discovery learning, 147
discussions, one-on-one
as preparation for whole-group
discussion, 29
during small-group activities, 50, 52,
138
discussions, small group
as informal assessment, 24, 29, 35,
138, 176
for lesson closure, 114
mixed-ability, and reading groups,
12f
discussions, student-led, 165, 169,
170–172, 173–174, 176–180, 181s, 182s,
183s
discussions, whole-class
applications and, 147
differentiating questions during, 26,
50, 56
eliciting evaluative thinking during,
83
eliciting generalizations during, 25,
52, 74, 75, 76, 84, 137, 139, 142
informal assessment during, 24, 29,
35, 138
introducing unit objectives in, 29, 31,
50, 73–74, 146, 164
for lesson closure, 106, 108, 109
List–Group–Label format, 102–103
peer learning during, 104, 148, 177
pre-assessments and introductory
material, 46–47
promoting critical thinking through,
31
read-alouds and, 78–79, 107, 110,
165, 172, 173
as review, 31, 35, 50, 54, 78,
104, 142
elementary classrooms, student characteristics in, x
Equalizer, 184–185f
ESL (English as a second language)
students
and differentiated learning contracts,
72, 87s–92s
benefited by routine lesson openings,
27
pairing strategies, 46, 52, 81
and advance lesson preparation, 169
tiered writing prompts and, 52, 76
visual cues for, 34
exit card, 112, 117, 185
flexible grouping, 7, 185–186
195
games
in instruction, 136
review, 112–113, 115
Gardner, Howard, 186
Gardner’s multiple intelligences
defined, 186
self-selected assignments and, 47–48,
85, 116, 143–144
self-selected products and, 81–82
gender-based differentiation, 186
generalizations
defined, 186
eliciting, during discussions, 25, 52,
74, 75, 76, 84, 137, 139, 142
in homework, 137, 154s
posting in the classroom, 136, 154s
graphic organizers, 50, 62s, 84, 93s
grouping, flexible. See flexible grouping
interest-based differentiation (continued)
and RAFT activities, 118, 123s
and small-group projects, 13f, 51, 54,
175
interest centers, 186–187
interest self-inventory, 95–96
interpersonal/intrapersonal intelligence,
48, 144
I Spy (game), 104, 187
heterogeneous groupwork. See
mixed-ability grouping
homework
interest-based differentiation in, 142
readiness- and interest-based differentiation in, 135
readiness-based differentiation in,
137, 139, 141, 147, 154s
How to Differentiate Instruction in
Mixed-Ability Classrooms (Tomlinson),
ix
language fluency issues. See ESL (English
as a second language) students
leadership, in small groups, 105
Leadership for Differentiating Schools and
Classrooms (Tomlinson & Allan), ix
learning centers
defined, 187
interest centers, 186–187
readiness-based differentiation in, 22,
23, 28, 38s
record-keeping, 23
learning contracts, 72–73, 87s–92s, 187
learning goals, 7–8
learning modalities. See intelligence
preference
learning profiles. See also intelligence
preference
about, 10
and anchor activities, 45, 146, 155s
and differentiated products, 55–56,
77–78, 81–82, 149, 151
importance of considering, 151
mixing, in pairs and small groups,
12f, 30–31, 32
and RAFT activities, 85
and reading buddies, 12f
and self-selected assignments, 47–48,
85, 116
learning stations
defined, 187
mixed-ability groupings and, 49–50
student “experts “ and, 48
learning style
defined, 187–188
and self-selecting activities, 118, 123s
surveys of individual, 96
List–Group–Label, 102–103, 188
literacy skills, 17
logical/mathematical intelligence, 48, 85,
116, 144
IEPs. See individualized education plans
(IEPs)
Improving Comprehension with ThinkAloud Strategies (Wilhelm), 168, 173
individualized education plans (IEPs)
and differentiated learning contracts,
72, 87s–92s
readiness-differentiated assignments
and, 139, 141, 151
Instructional Strategies for the Differentiated Classroom (video), ix–x
intelligence preference, 186. See also multiple intelligences; Sternberg’s triarchic
intelligences
interest-based differentiation
about, 9–10
and anchor activities, 45
and assessment, 118–119, 124s
cross-subject motivation, 12f
defined, 186
and differentiated products, 151
and homework, 135, 142
importance of considering, 151
interest surveys, 95–96
in journal writing, 167, 174,
178–179
and learning contracts, 72–73,
87s–92s
Jigsaw, 52, 145, 187
journal writing
prompts, 107, 169
student choice in, 167, 174, 178–179
kinesthetic learners/intelligence, 27,
83–84, 108–109, 116, 143
knowledge rating scales, 101–102, 120s
D I F F E R E N T I AT I O N
196
logical thinking, 145
manipulatives, 96, 141, 143. See also kinesthetic learners/intelligence
McCarthy, John, 11, 14
metacognition, 79, 148, 166, 188. See
also process logs
mini-workshops, 13f, 80, 176, 178, 188
mixed-ability grouping
compatibility and, 51
and learning stations, 49–50
for problem solving, 104
and round robin brainstorming, 57,
112–113
and thinking maps, 74–75
modeling, 165, 173
multiple intelligences. See Gardiner’s
multiple intelligences
naturalist intelligence, 116
objectives, introducing, 29, 31, 50, 73–74,
146, 164
open-ended questions, 24, 79
opening activities, routinized, 26
pair work. See also small-group
classwork/activities
compatibility in, 137
in class, 26–27
debriefing after, 32
and ESL students, 52, 81
vs. independent work, 58, 111
interest-based, 81
and learning contracts, 73
mixed-learning profiles, 12f, 30–31,
32
mixed-readiness, 12f, 46, 140
random, 46
readiness-based, 34, 52, 141
self-selected, 84, 107, 137, 173
Think–Pair–Share (T–P–S), 31–32,
80, 115, 148
parent volunteers, 49, 105
peer feedback/support, 75
“plus/delta “ evaluation tool, 172
portfolios, 25
practical intelligence, 77, 186
pre-assessment. See under assessment
predicting, 26, 54
process, differentiating, 10, 12–13f
process logs, 119, 126s, 188. See also
metacognition
products, differentiating. See also
self-selected assignments; tiered
assignments
about, 10–11
final product contracts, 119, 125s
interest-based, 13f, 30
IN
PRACTICE
products, differentiating (continued)
learning profile-based, 13f, 55–56,
77–78, 81–82
learning profiles and pair work,
30–31, 32
readiness-based, 13f, 35
self-selecting based on interest and
learning style, 118–119, 124s
sharing with class, 56
sharing with partners, 116
unspecified, 79
project assignments
abstract vs. concrete tasks, 52–53,
76–77, 79, 113–114
interest- and learning profile-based,
151
interest- and readiness-based, 30
interest-based, 35–36, 54
learning profile-based, 143–144
paired vs. independent, 58, 143
preparing for, 30, 35
product differentiation in, 35–36
small-group (See small-group
classwork/activities)
supporting forms and sheets, 51, 63s,
64s, 65s
Think–Pair–Share (T–P–S) in, 31–32,
80, 115, 148
prompts, journal writing, 107
question-answer differentiation, 50, 52,
138, 146
RAFT activities, 85, 94s, 118, 123s, 188
readiness-based differentiation. See also
tiered assignments
about, 9
and anchor activities, 22, 23, 28, 38s,
150, 156s
and application activities, 117
assessment and, 37, 150, 180
defined, 188–189
and group classwork/activities,
12–13f, 33–34, 80–81
homework, 137, 139, 141, 147, 154s
IEP students and assignments, 139,
141, 151
independent class work assigned by,
26–27
and learning centers, 22, 23, 28, 38s
and learning contracts, 72
mini-workshops and, 13f
and pair work, 12f, 34, 52
and reading levels, 12f
reading selections, 175
in review games, 112–113
and small-group classwork/activities,
33–34, 80–81, 112–113
readiness-based differentiation.
(continued)
and student roles in small group discussions, 165, 170–172, 173–174,
175, 181s, 182s, 183s
in whole-group activities, 26
readiness levels, in language arts instruction, 17
reading, aloud, 78–79, 107, 110, 165, 170,
173
reading, books-on-tape, 176
reading, independent, 175–176
reading buddies, 12f
reading groups, interest-based, 12f
reading proficiency, 13f, 55
reviewing
games for, 112–113, 115
round robin brainstorming for, 57,
112–113
routines for, 53
with whole-class, 31, 35, 50, 54, 78,
114, 138
round robin activities, 57, 112–113
routines
benefits of, 179
closure activities, 48, 53
opening activities, 26
rubrics, 13f, 119, 127s, 189
scaffolding, 50, 171, 189
scavenger hunt, 45–46, 87–88s, 90s, 117
self-assessment. See under assessment
self-selected assignments, 47–48, 85, 116,
118
simulation activities, 75–76, 83–84, 143
simulations, 189
skills
basic skills, 189
categories of, 189
literacy skills, 17
modifying assessments for skill deficits, 59, 85
production skills, 189
skills of a discipline, 189
social skills, 189
in student product choices, 56
thinking skills, 53, 56, 82–83, 113,
145, 189
writing skills, 59, 76, 82–83, 113,
139, 167, 170, 174
small-group classwork/activities. See also
Jigsaw; pair work
brainstorming in, 112
debriefing after, 32
interest-based differentiation in, 12f,
51
learning stations, 49–50
mixed-readiness, 49–50, 51, 105
partnering within, 34, 170
INDEX
small-group classwork/activities.
(continued)
peer feedback/support in, 75
practice working/transitioning in, 49
pre-assessment in, 74
random (heterogeneous) grouping,
51, 57, 74–75, 104, 136
readiness-based, 33–34, 80–81,
112–113
small-group sharing, 27, 137, 144,
145, 174
student compatibility in, 51, 52
student leadership in, 105
student-led discussions, 164, 166,
169, 170–172, 173–174, 176–180,
181s, 182s, 183s
supporting forms and sheets, 51, 63s,
64s, 65s
vs. pairing, 140
small-group instruction. See
mini-workshops
standards, addressing, 18, 41
Sternberg, Robert, 186
Sternberg’s triarchic intelligences, 77–78,
186
students, elementary
aware of peer abilities, 23
characteristics of, 3–4, 9–10
students, elementary (continued)
differentiation examples, 12f–13f
individual growth as benchmark of
success, 7–8
involved in decision-making, 7
profile examples, 2s–3s
tasks respectful of all, 8
task cards, 113–114
teachers
goals of, in differentiated instruction,
2, 8–9
parent volunteers and, 49, 105
planning for differentiated instruction, 9–11, 12f–13f
thinking maps, 74–75, 189
thinking skills, 53, 56, 82–83, 113, 145,
189
Think–Pair–Share (T–P–S)
for class projects, 31–32, 148
defined, 190
for encouraging greater response, 80,
115
thoughtful questions, 167–168, 179
3–2–1 exit card activity, 117, 185
tiered assessment, 180
tiered assignments. See also
readiness-based differentiation;
197
tiered assignments. (continued)
self-selected assignments
additional tasks as, 149
concrete vs. abstract writing, 52–53,
76–77, 110–111
ESL students and, 52–53, 76–77
unspecified products and, 79–80
and writing skills, 82–83
tiering, defined, 190
transitions, 33
verbal/linguistic intelligence, 47, 85, 116,
143
videotapes, in instruction, 57
A Visit to a Differentiated Classroom
(video), ix
visual learners, 57, 74, 106, 110–111, 141
visual/spatial intelligence, 48, 116, 144
whole-group discussions. See discussions, whole-class
writing skills. See also ESL (English as a
second language) students
abstract vs. concrete tasks, 113
and assessment, 59
in journal prompts, 167, 174
tiered writing prompts, 52, 76,
82–83, 113, 139, 170
About the Authors
Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D, is Professor of
Caroline Cunningham Eidson, Ph.D, is Director
Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy
of Curriculum and Instruction at Triangle Day
at the University of Virginia and was a public
School in Durham, North Carolina, and an educa-
school teacher for 21 years. In 1974, she was
tional consultant focusing on curriculum develop-
Virginia’s Teacher of the Year. During Carol’s time
ment, curriculum differentiation, and the needs of
in public school, she taught in many differentiated
classrooms and directed district-level programs
advanced learners.
Caroline has taught children in differentiated
for struggling and advanced learners. Today, as
classrooms in grades K–8 in both public and private
co-director of the University of Virginia Summer
schools. She cofounded Peabody School, a school
Institute on Academic Diversity, she works with
for intellectually advanced children in Charlottes-
an international community of educators commit-
ville, Virginia, and served as both a lead teacher and
ted to academically responsive classrooms.
Carol has authored several books for ASCD,
an administrator. She has also taught in the Univer-
including How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-
in Gifted Education, supervising degree candidates
Ability Classrooms, The Differentiated Classroom,
and (with Caroline Cunningham Eidson) Differenti-
during their teaching internships.
Caroline has provided workshops and certifica-
ation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating
tion training at the local, state, and national levels
Curriculum, Grades 5–9. She consulted on and
regarding curriculum differentiation and the charac-
authored facilitator’s guides for ASCD video staff
teristics and needs of gifted learners. She has several
development sets and developed ASCD’s Profes-
publications in the field of gifted education to her
sional Inquiry Kit on Differentiated Instruction.
Carol can be reached at the Curry School
credit and is the coauthor (with Carol Ann
of Education, The University of Virginia, P.O.
Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 5–9.
Caroline can be reached at 3511 Carpenter Pond
Rd., Durham, NC, 27703, or e-mail [email protected]
sity of Virginia’s Northern Virginia Master’s Program
Tomlinson) of Differentiation in Practice: A Resource
Box 400277, Charlottesville, VA, 22904, or e-mail
[email protected] virginia.edu.
198
Related ASCD Resources: Differentiated Instruction
Audiotapes
Building a Place to Learn: Classroom Environments and Differentiated Instruction by Carol Ann Tomlinson (#202132)
Help for Your Struggling Learners: Strategies and Materials that Support Differentiated Instruction by Char Forsten,
Betty Hollas, and Jim Grant (#202214)
CD-ROM and Multimedia
ASCD Professional Inquiry Kit: Differentiating Instruction for Mixed-Ability Classrooms by Carol Ann Tomlinson
(#196213)
Networks
Visit the ASCD Web site (http://www.ascd.org) and search for “networks” for information about professional educators
who have formed groups around topics like “Differentiated Instruction” and “Multiple Intelligences.” Look in the “Network Directory” for current facilitators’ addresses and phone numbers.
Online Professional Development
Available on the ASCD Web site:
Online Tutorial: Differentiating Instruction (http://www.ascd.org/frametutorials.html)
PD Online Course: Differentiating Instruction (http://www.ascd.org/framepdonline.html)
Print Products
ASCD Topic Pack: Differentiating Instruction (#101032) (also available online from the ASCD Web site:
http://www.ascd.org)
The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners by Carol Ann Tomlinson (#199040)
Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 5–9 by Carol Ann Tomlinson and
Caroline Cunningham Eidson (#102293)
How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (2nd ed.) by Carol Ann Tomlinson (#101043)
Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Susan Demirsky Allan (#100216)
Videotapes
At Work in the Differentiated Classroom (3-tape series, plus Facilitator’s Guide) (#401071)
Differentiating Instruction (2-tape series, plus Facilitator’s Guide) (#497023)
Instructional Strategies for the Differentiated Classroom (4-tape series, plus Facilitator’s Guide) (#403330)
A Visit to a Differentiated Classroom (videotape, plus Online Viewer’s Guide) (#401309)
For additional information, visit us on the World Wide Web (http://www.ascd.org), send an e-mail message to
[email protected], call the ASCD Service Center (1-800-933-ASCD or 703-578-9600, then press 2), send a fax to
703-575-5400, or write to Information Services, ASCD, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311-1714 USA.
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If you like this book,
you’ll LOVE the membership!
J O I N A S C D TO G E T O U R AWA R D - W I N N I N G R E S O U R C E S A L L Y E A R L O N G !
F
ounded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development (ASCD) is an international, nonpartisan, not-for-profit
education association dedicated to the success of all learners. ASCD
provides many services to educators—kindergarten through grade
12—as well as others in the education community, including administrators,
school board members, university professors, and parents.
ASCD membership is a convenient, low-cost way to stay current
on the best new ideas for K–College educators. ASCD member benefits
include the following:
◆ Educational Leadership magazine—Eight issues of our flagship
publication, read by over a quarter-million educators worldwide
◆ Education Update newsletter—Eight issues of the newsletter
that keeps you up-to-date on news and trends in education,
as well as ASCD activities and events
◆ Curriculum Update newsletter—Four issues of an awardwinning newsletter reporting education trends, research findings,
programs, and resources in specific grade levels and subjects
◆ Newly published Member Books on topics critical to K–College
educators, delivered to you throughout the year
◆ Low Member Prices on resources and meetings, saving you
a bundle throughout the year on your professional development
resources and activities
◆ Around-the-clock online access to major ASCD publications,
including searchable back issues of Educational Leadership
and Education Update and a vast archive of other educational
resources
◆ Access to ASCD Networks and Affiliates—special groups which
offer learning opportunities and networking with colleagues
JOIN TODAY!
BECOMING AN ASCD MEMBER IS QUICK AND EASY!
Check out our membership site on the Internet: www.ascd.org
or
Call (toll-free in the United States and Canada):
800-933-ASCD (2723) or 703-578-9600
®
AS S O C I AT I O N F O R S U P E RV I S I O N A N D C U R R I C U L U M D E V E L O P M E N T
1703 North Beauregard Street Alexandria, VA 22311-1714 USA
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