Over the summer months the laminating machines in many schools will be regularly rolling as teachers pop in to prepare materials for the start of the school year. When trimming your laminated items, remember to save the excess – it makes a wonderful tactile tool I call Laminate Layers. Staple together as many strips as you need and have students graphically portray concepts that have a layered effect. Here are two ideas from some high school teachers attending one of my recent workshops on differentiation.
I am fortunate enough to be invited to co-teach in classrooms all over the country. When these opportunities arise, I ask the classroom teacher to email me the lesson plan and any accompanying materials a few days in advance so that I can look at them. My goal is to analyze the materials from the perspective of a special educator, thinking about what adaptations or differentiation I can add to support struggling students.
Often, these classroom materials include a graphic organizer (GO) of some kind. Recently I reviewed several different “graphic organizers” and was struck by the breadth of what that term seems to mean to teachers. Some of the GOs were very detailed, while others were minimalistic. Reflecting, I wondered if educators need a rubric of some kind for what an effective GO looks like. (A web search led to several rubrics to use after a student has designed and completed a GO, but none for teachers to use in designing or choosing a GO to provide students. If you know of one, please share.)
Here is my first attempt at the criteria to include in a GO Rubric. Please let me know what you think!
· The format allows for relationships or patterns to be clearly seen
· Illustrations/graphics support the learning objective
· Prompts are provided in a simple but clear manner
· Scaffolding (as necessary) provides access to the concepts
· Once complete, the graphic organizer can be interpreted in a meaningful way
The GO on the left was provided to me, designed for a lesson on the Civil War, in which the primary objective was for students to be able to identify multiple perspectives on a topic, especially that of the African American soldiers. The GO on the right shows my redesign, based on the above rubric, including supports for struggling students. It is generic enough to be used for any discussion of multiple perspectives. Feel free to download it here.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Heather Newman, a high school Spanish teacher in Delaware. Heather participated in a workshop I facilitated on co-teaching and differentiated instruction. One of our conversations concerned the need to add tactile and kinesthetic instruction to our lessons, no matter how old our students are. Heather showed this photo to me and explained how she had her Spanish 1 students match vocabulary to pictures using yarn. What a creative idea! She reported that her students loved it, commenting that it was so much better than another worksheet. Thanks for sharing, Heather!
Anne M. Beninghof
Anne's mission is to improve instruction through collaboration and the sharing of creative, practical ideas for educators.
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