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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Differentiated Instruction, Boys' Literacy, ELL Reading, Diverse Literacy Resources: sounds like a lot of work--NOT REALLY!!

   Differentiated Instruction
D.I. simply means that I provide different avenues to my students so they can acquire content, process, construct and make sense of ideas. 

Examples include:  a quiet place to work in my classroom so my students can work collaboratively on a new skill, meet with small groups to reteach an idea or skill (especially for Math!), offer manipulatives (for Math) or other hands-on materials/supports (for Science) for any and all students who need them

Why is D.I. sooooooooooo important to me?
**to maximize the learning potential of my students
**to meet the needs of my students, as well as their interests and learning styles
**it means I'm making adjustments to the content, the process, the materials used, the learning environment whenever necessary
**so that I can become more "in tune" with my students
**if instruction is provided at the readiness level of students and their interests are taken into consideration, they will be more responsive and successful learners

What does all of these equate to?   WINNING!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Watch the following video and think how the monk supports his student in understanding 'the book':
Click on the following websites for more D.I. ideas and resources:

Boys' Literacy

Did you know that in recent years questions have been raised in the western world about the nature of schooling for boys?  I've read many articles that are trying to answer these questions.  Researchers want to explore the gender issues that exist for boys regarding school literacy. Their research indicates concerns for boys in educational settings, e.g., boys don’t view education positively, they don’t like to read, some don’t read very well, and a growing percentage of boys are “failing” at school. I believe that boys face many contradictions between our expectations at school, what we teach them about literacy and what society expects of them.  Boys are expected to be tough, competitive and independent--reading books doesn't come into play!!  I've discovered that boys need to know the following 3 things before they begin to read any kind of text:  what is the purpose (why are they expected to read this text?), is there a personal interest or connection (how does the text relate to them?) and will they enjoy the text (will it be fun? exciting? adventurous? mysterious?).
Once I've established these 3 things with my boys, I can introduce them to the following authors, types and genres of texts: 
  • Christopher Pike, Eric Walters, Geronimo Stilton, Encyclopedia Brown, Bone, graphic novels, magazines, comic books, Ricky Ricotta, Magic Tree House
But, don't just take my word for it, check out the following websites for ideas and resources:

ELL (English Language Leaner) Reading
How are you at Cryptic Messages???
And here are your hints:

L=E, C=L, F=S
As a teacher with 8 ELLs in my classroom this year, I learned very quickly that I needed to support these students and create a language-rich environment that would ensure that learning became accessible for ALL. 
Learning a second, third, tenth language is more than acquiring vocabulary and grammatical structures.  It is about communicating new concepts (that the students have connected with) effectively to others.  I found this to be important because they become better able to read, write and say linked sentences and they develop confidence to ask questions, initiate conversations and respond to others. 
To ensure success for ELLs, instructional programs MUST BE adapted (Differentiated Instruction), i.e. modifications to expectations, accommodations assessment & instructional strategies, variety of learning resources.  Each ELLs individual needs need to be considered:  English Language proficiency, prior knowledge, learning style and readiness & interests.  **In order to know where these students are going academically, I must know where they have been and how to get them to their goals.**

Feel free to check out the following websites:  *this has many sites to connect to for a painless way to give students English language practice in the classroom or at home*  *this has videos to watch on how to design a lesson for your ELLs*

                                            Diverse Literacy Resources

Providing access to a vast selection of diverse literacy resources is super-important to every student in this province, in this country, in this world. 

"The diversity of students in today's classrooms underscores the importance of developing curricula, teaching strategies, and policies to help all students succeed in school.  Efforts to welcome, understand, and affirm all students--and to treat their cultural and linguistic backgrounds as equally valid and important--should be reflected in every facet of the school environment." 

I believe this is especially important within my own classroom library.  My classroom library consists of:  sports magazines, girls' magazines, adventure novels, comic books, graphic novels, Where's Waldo books, levelled books, authors & series requested by my students, books written in other languages and many more.  Working on creating and maintaining this diverse library is contributing to equity of academic and social outcomes for all of my students.  Good friends of mine have introduced me to the following culturally and socially diverse resources:
  • A Promise Is A Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak
  • The Legend Of The Indian Paintbrush retold by Tomie dePaola
  • Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
  • See Behind Trees by Michael Dorris
  • Bifocal by Eric Walter and Deborah Ellis
  • More Than A Play by various authors
  • Better That Way by Rita Bouvier
  • Nokum Is My Teacher by David Bouchard
  • If The World Were A Village by David J. Smith
  • Lights For Gita by Rachna Gilmore
Please feel free to check out any (or all) of the above-mentioned books--they are all great reads and will help contribute to a "culturally responsive classroom".