Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Set Your Student Up For Succes Part 2


Part one of my Set Your Students Up for Success series, gave an introduction to Universal Design for Learning or UDL. It takes the concept of differentition to a proactive approach in all aspects of the classroom. The idea is to make available resources to all students in order to be successful and give them choices.

  For example, I have my secret stash of fidgets in my desk drawer to hand out for my kiddos that need it along with a couple of wiggle seats that I purchased.  With the UDL concept in mind, this year I'll have a basket of fidgets out that are available to all students if they need them. I also dusted off the excersise ball I kept in the basement for extra seating.  (Um yeah, didn't get around to using it much there. )Of course, I'll need to establish clear rules and boundaries for them. Below is a copy of the rules for them that I will display by the fidget basket. You can click on the picture to download for free.

Another type of resource that will be available at anytime to all students are Resource Rings. So far I've made two types of resourse rings.... Text Features and Text Structure.  They are laminated on index cards and attached to rings that will hang in the room. Anytime a student has an assignment or questions  dealing with these concepts, he/she may take one to use. The text structure ring helps a lot with nonficition writing.  I used them toward the end of the school year and look forward to making more to use this year. They are like anchor charts that take up little room and the students can carry them anywhere. 

We have all types of learners and learning needs in our classrooms. Making as many resources available to everyone as we can, helps to set them up for success. Part 3 coming soon! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Setting Your Students Up for Succes Part One

The fourth of July festivities have passed and traditionally have signaled the time for me to start thinking about the upcoming school year. Sigh. It's cool though. Last year my team was sent for training on Universal Design for Learning or UDL, and I'm looking forward to setting up my classroom with new ideas. The best way I can think of to describe the overall concept of this framework is Differentiated Learning on steroids.

  UDL encompasses all of my teaching beliefs. Many of the same strategies and techniques from my ebook, A Common Sense Approach to Differentiation, is embraced in UDL. As well as my premise of my blog name to set up a classroom balanced for all learning styles. However, UDL takes all of this even further in that is a proactive set up that allows all students choices and access to many resources to engage in lessons and show what they know. 

This is post one of my series, Set Your Students up for Success. In order to model the UDL framework in your classroom, it is imperative to get to know your students' motivations and interests. That should be a priority from day one. This year I'm going to stick with tradition but step it up and begin taking notes from the first day of school. I've always had students bring in a "Me Bag" with five items inside that tell about them. I staple a tag with the directions onto a brown lunch bag and give them out at open house the night before school starts. The students share their Me Bags on the first day of school.  Click the picture below to download the Me Bag Tags for free.

This year, I'm pulling out an old teaching tool I used years ago and dusting off the cobwebs.  The Tab Notebook. Below is a picture and video showing how to make this using a regular college ruled notebook and scissors. While the students share their Me Bags, I'll jot down notes about them in this notebook. Each student has their own tab with pages for me to write down things throughout the year. In the past I've also kept this notebook with me during guided reading time. I've found out a lot of information about their interests during this time that was valuable. As I continue my posts in this series, you'll see why it's so important to learn what motivates and interests your students. The next post will be about setting your classroom environment up for success.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

An American Student

Journal Entry One
"This is a lock down" echoed through the sound system today sending my heart into overdrive. My body couldn't help but to react to the words even though my teacher told us we would have the drill today.  Huddled in the dark corner of my classroom, my mind raced with thoughts of what if....  What if it was real this time?  What if a gunman shot through our locked door?  My teacher always places herself between us and the door. What if the gunman shot her? Would I be next?  Relief flooded me when the news of the drill was over and we could go back to our normal day. But what about next time? Will it be a drill or real?  
  I guess this must be normal...right? To worry about these things when I go to school every day? 

                                                              An American Student

"American 15-19 olds are 8200% more likely to die from gun violence than children in any other developed nations."  Dr. Jill Stein


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