Differentiated Instruction

afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. We’re very excited to be
presenting our next in the series of our Educator
Effectiveness Webinar Series. Today we’ll be talking about
Effective Differentiation: A Guide for Teachers and Leaders. With us today we have Dr. Carol
Ann Tomlinson, and I am your host and facilitator for today’s
event, Elizabeth Greninger. Before we talk a little bit more
about the wealth of background and experience that Carol brings
to this topic, I’d like to find out a little bit about
who’s in our audience today. In a moment, you’ll see a poll
come up on your screen, and you’ll have several options
to select from……to see so many
teachers in the audience today. I think this will be highly
relevant to the work you all do. And quite a range of other
folks joining us, too. It’s an important topic that
touches on everyone’s role, so I think that through the course
of the two hours we’ll spend together, you’ll all get
something that will really help you in the position that you
serve and the work that you do to help teachers and students
meet students’ needs. Okay, we’ll move that one off. I’ll take this
opportunity to introduce you to today’s speaker. Our presenter, Carol Ann
Tomlinson, is a faculty member at the University of Virginia’s
Curry School of Education. She’s also the Co-Director of
the University’s Institutes on Academic Diversity. She’s the author of over 200
articles, book chapters, books, and other professional
development materials. You have probably all read some
of what she’s written over the last several years. She’s the author of several
books for ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development), including How to Differentiate Instruction in
Mixed-ability Classrooms and The Differentiated Classroom:
Responding to the Needs of all Learners. Of note, Carol was also a
classroom teacher for 21 years, so she brings that experience to
the work that she does, which I think is highly valuable and
applicable to the conversation we’re going to have today. So, at this time, I would
like to turn it over to Carol. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Thanks to
all of you for spending some time with us this afternoon. I can only imagine how busy your
lives are and how many things are pulling on your
attention all the time. We’ll do our best to make it
a strong afternoon and one in which we hopefully can share
with you some thoughts that expand your current thinking, or
give you something else to think about as you go. Our work this afternoon will
focus on four key areas, kind of four buckets that we’re
going to work with. I want to share with you a
little bit about what research says about differentiated
instruction; give you some concrete examples of
differentiation that seems to me to live up to the term quality;
talk with you a bit about things that help prepare teachers
to get better and better at attending to the variance in
their classrooms; and then talk a little bit about how school
leaders can support teachers in becoming more responsive to
the students that they teach. So those are some of the four
big areas that we’ll work with. I want to begin by giving you
just a couple of thoughts about what differentiation is. I think it’s always helpful when
talking with somebody to make sure whether you’re on the
same page or not in what you’re talking about. And one of the interesting
experiences that I have is when I have the opportunity to work
with teachers in schools, I sometimes find that if there’s a
staff of 50 teachers, there are at least 49 different
definitions of what differentiation is. So to have a sense of pointing
in the same direction, to have a shared framework for
our conversation, I’d like to start here. To me, differentiation is
not any particular set of instructional strategies. It’s really a way of thinking
about teaching and learning. And there are many ways that I
could elaborate on that, but, at the very least, it’s
acknowledging that we differ as human beings and that so many
things in our lives don’t work particularly well when
they’re one-size-fits-all. And the job of the teacher is to
make sure that students learn as much as they possibly can, in
the best ways they possibly can. And so, for me, differentiation
is honestly acknowledging that variance in your classroom and
the demands that that variance puts on you as a teacher, and
simply setting out to say I truly do believe I could do a
little bit better every day in understanding the students that
I teach, and aiming what I’m doing at them, and talking with
them in ways that benefit them much more as learners than if
I just assume that most of the kids in my class are pretty
much copies of one another. So, differentiation is an
approach to teaching that really emphasizes the centrality of
students in learning, and the centrality of
learning in classrooms. One of my students proposed the
definition of differentiation as being respectful teaching, that
when we truly respect someone, we want to know them. And we honor what we know about
them by responding in ways that seem positive to that person. It’s a little difficult to
assume how you’d be truly respectful of a student if you
appeared not to be aware of the fact that that student was
really thinking because he or she didn’t understand what
was going on, or not even to acknowledge that the student
who’s sitting in front of you has known for weeks the things
that we’re continuing to go over in the classroom. It’s important to understand
the role of culture, the role of economics, the role of gender in
teaching, and to be responsive to those things as well. One kind of quick way to think
about differentiation and its big, bold strokes, that actually
if each of us as teachers just worked with this idea and
kept on with it over time, we’d get better. To me, differentiation is kind
of shaking up the classroom so that there are more ways for
kids to take in content and information, more ways for them
to make sense of content, and more ways for them to show
what they have learned. Some folks would refer to those
three elements as content, process, and product. And, really, that’s the
essence of differentiation. There are so many ways to teach
information and to help kids engage with it. And the more we expand on
the repertoire we have there, the better. Many different ways that kids
can make sense of and come to own what we need them to learn,
and giving them more and more opportunity to process that
information in ways that work for them is really helpful. And our goal is for
kids to learn something. If the way that we ask them to
express their learning limits their capacity to show us what
they’ve learned, then we haven’t done them a favor. So a great question to ask is:
In what ways might I enable my students to show the maximum
amount that they know? Rather than, this is the one
thing everyone needs to do. Teachers can differentiate
instruction based on three student attributes, and all of
us see the variance in this in front of us every day. Kids come to us at different
entry points, different readiness levels, no matter
what content we teach. They come to us with vastly
different interests, passions, things they care about. And they approach learning
in many different ways. And so, when we differentiate
instruction, what we really try to do is differentiate the
previous item – content, process, and product – in
response to students’ readiness levels, their interests, and
their approaches to learning. A student of mine, a couple of
years ago, a pre-service teacher who I think is going to make a
mighty fine teacher, proposed this definition to me. He was just two or three weeks
into our class and had been doing a good bit of reading
and trying to formulate some big-picture sense of what
differentiation means. And he said: Differentiation to
me is a sequence of common sense decisions made by teachers with
a student-first orientation. And I like that, I think
it’s an important statement. Differentiation is not an extra;
it’s just part of the common sense of teaching. And I think those of us who
keep the students in the very forefront of our thinking,
versus the notion that we’re supposed to dish out stuff or
cover information or prepare kids for a test, are more likely
to be struck by the student variance and to feel the need
to do something about that. The student’s name was Adam, and
he went on to say that as he was reading about differentiation
and listening and trying to figure it out, he thought it
called on us as teachers to attend to five key elements. And these are, for me, the
essence of a classroom teaching anywhere, anytime, with anybody. And they are the areas that we
have to attend to well in order to teach well. And, to me, to teach well is
to teach each student well, not just to sort of teach it down
the middle, kind of well enough. So he said I think we have to
make sure that the learning environment in our classroom
is invitational for kids. That every kid comes in there
every day thinking this is going to be a good place for me. It’s a hard job for a teacher. We don’t spend as much time
talking about that as we do in test prep, but it’s critically
important and research continues to tell us that if that isn’t
working well for a student, much of what else we do
won’t work well either. He said we have to keep working
with our curriculum to make sure that we’re taking students to a
powerful learning destination, one that engages their minds and
helps them understand the world around them. And then he said, you know, if
you care enough about the kids to work on that environment,
and you care enough about the curriculum to work on that and
continue to develop and polish it, it seems like you’d want to
keep checking constantly to find out where the kids are relative
to that stuff that matters – where the people that matter so
much are relative to the stuff that matters so much. And, in that case, he says
number three seems inescapable. You’d use formative assessment,
because how else would you know whether things are working? And then he said something that
I thought was pretty astute for a very young teacher. He said I really believe that
if you use formative assessment, almost every time you’re going
to find out that no matter how [unclear] you were the day
before, the kids are still in very different places. And so formative assessment then
will let you know we need to make some modifications in
content or process or product, based on students’
learning needs. And, ultimately, there’s a fifth
thing that we have to do to make the first four work, and that
is that we have to become good leaders in flexible classrooms,
working with kids so that they understand what the game plan
is, and are eager to help us with it. And then helping develop, and
with the assistance of kids, implementing classroom routines
that enable us sometimes to focus on the whole group,
sometimes to focus on subsets of the whole group, sometimes
to focus on individuals. So there’s a graphic here that
depicts what differentiation might look like to me, because
I believe that those first four elements on Adam’s list have to
turn together in the classroom. And so, again, whether we use
the terminology or not, every day all of us create some kind
of environment, we work with some sort of curriculum, we
should be engaging in some sort of persisted assessment, and we
make instructional decisions. And how well those things turn,
and how much they can attend to the individuals that we teach,
depends a lot on these boxes that are outside. We have to become good at
leading kids to join us in the classroom where everybody
works together for the success of everybody. And we have to get better and
better, and more comfortable and more proficient, each day with
managing a classroom where more than one thing at a time can
happen when that’s necessary. A point that I’d like to make
to you here, because it answers questions that I’m asked real
often, is that differentiation is really necessary
for all students. It’s not something that’s
just for kids with Special Ed identification. It’s not something that was
designed for kids who are identified as gifted. It’s not something that’s
necessary only for English language learners. Every student will have
variance in their readiness. Every student brings to us
different interests, has varied approaches to learning, has
certain traits of background that are going to shape
how they see the world and how they learn. Not only is it imperative to
understand that every kid that needs us in different ways, but
it’s also really important to understand that you truly can’t
differentiate instruction very well for only one kind of
kid, if you put “kind” in quotation marks. I’ve had teachers say to me,
and I understand where this is coming from, they’ll say, I get
what you’re talking about how to use this reading strategy with
these six kids that I have in my class who are struggling with
reading, but what am I supposed to do with the other 24? Or, I get what you’re saying
about something that would be really useful for a kid who’s
very advanced in math, but what am I supposed to do with all
the other kids while I’m working with that one? We have to be able to
see the classroom in terms of flexibility. When we get to the place where
we say, you know, I sort of see how I can have two things
happening now, and then maybe three, and maybe
as many as four. Never 25 or 30 in the
sense of, you know, totally different everything. But that flexibility
is really critical. If we can’t figure out how to
think about the needs of all the students we have, we’ll never
be particularly successful with addressing the needs of
one or two particular subsets of students. Differentiation has
three key pillars. It comes with a philosophy,
and among the points in that philosophy are that diversity
in our world is pretty normal. And, in fact, it’s pretty
valuable and it’s useful for kids, enriching for us to be
surrounded by different lives and different perspectives,
and different ways of doing and looking at things. So rather than trying to figure
out how to parse kids into little bundles and put them in
homogeneous bundles, we actually – especially in today’s world
– benefit kids by helping them learn to hear and understand
and appreciate one another. Differentiation comes with a
growth mindset orientation, and that is that we’re better as
teachers when we look at our students as being
something like icebergs. We can see some capacity above
the surface of the water, but much of the capacity of
every kid is hidden beneath the surface. And good teaching says give me
some time and a kid, and I’ll make that iceberg rise and
you’ll see more above the tip. But no matter how much I can
get to rise above the surface, I know there’s more and more and
more that student can accomplish and that I can accomplish
with that student. Looking at students in
terms of possibilities rather than deficits. Differentiation asks us as
teachers to accept maximum responsibility for the
progress of each learner. My job is not to cover
curriculum, but it’s to get the most out of every student that
I possibly can, working side by side with that student. And a big part of the philosophy
of differentiation, and we’ll talk about this in just a little
bit a tad more, is to say school ought to offer every kind of kid
equity of access to excellence. And there are lots of barriers
that we have in school that create barriers to
accessing that excellence for lots of kids. In my experience, and I think in
the experience of a great many researchers, we do better again
when we bring kids together with all their variety and talk about
ways in which we can address the variety, than when we restrict
access to really good teaching and learning opportunities
for some students. Differentiation has five key
principles, and they are Adam’s five elements of differentiation
that I showed you. The environment is the
catalyst for learning. Quality curriculum is an
imperative to ensure that students are learning robustly. Assessment should
inform instruction, teaching, and learning. Instruction should be adapted to
help us respond in the best way that we can to move each
kid forward from their current point of work. And leading and managing in
a flexible classroom is an imperative for being able to
deal with student differences in a meaningful and
comfortable way. There are lots of practices
in differentiation that are extremely important, and, in
truth, each of these could become a pretty good webinar. I just want to mention a few of
them to you in the sense that I hope they will take a little
root in your head and that you’ll continue to sort of
ponder where you are with each of these things. Almost all teachers
differentiate to some degree. If you want to survive in a
classroom, you have to figure out some different ways to
handle kids’ behavioral quirks. And if you have a heart, when
you see a kid sinking with something, you
instinctively reach out to throw him a lifeline. And when you see a kid who’s
really excited about something you’re teaching, you frequently
will just, almost instinctively, go to that student and help
him to continue to think forward with that. But much of the differentiation
that we do in schools, until we learn a different way to think
about it, is what I’ve come to call reactive differentiation. That is, we still bring in the
same lesson plan for everybody, and hope like the dickens
it’s going to work. And then when it doesn’t, we run
around and try to offer extra help, or find another piece of
material, or put out a fire. That will always be
a part of teaching. But robust differentiation asks
us to come in with an awareness of learning goals, and an
awareness of where students are in proximity to those goals,
and a growing awareness of the interests and approaches
to learning that the kids bring with them. And then proactively come in,
when it seems wise to do so, with more than one thing that
we might be able to do in the classroom in that day to
help move students forward. So proactive rather
than reactively planned differentiation is
really important. It asks that we choose
instructional approaches, whether those are approaches
of inquiry, learning contracts, small group instruction
with a teacher, using Internet materials. Choose particular tools that
we’re going to use based on two things: the nature
of the content and the needs of students. And then three really
critical elements to make differentiation successful. Teaching up, which we’ll look at
again in just a minute, suggests that we have to start
planning with somebody. If you’re going to do three
things tomorrow, you don’t usually plan all three
of them simultaneously. You start somewhere, and
then make modifications. It suggests that we’ll do the
very best for the most kids if we plan first for advanced
learners, and then we see differentiation as a way of
scaffolding more and more kids to work with really rich,
meaty, complex content. It’s a great thing to think
about with Common Core because Common Core
expects us to teach up. It’s very evident in everything
that’s available on that. Respectful tasks suggests that
when we are going to have more than one thing at a time, we
have to be really careful not to have some kids that continually
work with really cool, fascinating, wonderful stuff
that has good appeal to it, and other kids keep doing drill
and practice all the time. Everybody has some grunge work
they need to do every once in a while, but unfortunately
sometimes some kids’ work is almost a signal that this is
a student that the teacher perceives can’t really do
anything important, and other students seem to be the
favored ones all the time. If we expect students to work
with us on a classroom where multiple things are happening,
all those things need to be respectful of the dignity
and possibilities of all of the kids. And, finally, flexible grouping
says, you know what, you can do better than bluebirds, buzzards,
and wombats in your classroom. We ought not to be thinking
about kids in classrooms as ones who are smart and ones who are
average and ones who are not smart, and kind of
plugging them in that way. But rather, to ask ourselves,
given where we are today, where’s the best place for this
particular student or these four, five, six,
30 students to work? And we ought to be trying to
arrange kids in many kinds of groupings based on the
particular tasks of the day. Sometimes similar readiness,
but sometimes mixed readiness. Sometimes similar interests,
sometimes mixed interests. Sometimes similar
approach to learning, sometimes mixed approach. Sometimes groups that last a
few days, some that last only a few minutes. Sometimes teacher choice,
sometimes student choice. When we do that, we see kids
in many more lights and we find many more ways we can teach
that are effective for them. And the kids don’t peg each
other again as the ones the teacher thinks can learn, the
ones the teacher thinks have moderate hope, and the no
hopes are over in the corner. So flexible grouping is
also really important. Okay, so I’ve spent a few
minutes giving you some of my thoughts about differentiation
and what it might mean, how we might define it,
how we might think about it, its key elements. Which of the perspectives that
I’ve shared with you thus far resonate with your experience? So we’re going to give you
a chance to respond to that question now, and Elizabeth
will lead us there. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Great. Thank you so much, Carol,
for that detailed overview. We are going to open up this
question in just a moment. I wanted to do a few
housekeeping notes because I know there’s a lot of activity
going on in the parking lot and the technical issues box, so
I want to just make sure that everyone knows where you
can get some assistance. Our parking lot is generally
used for content-related discussion, so if you have
questions for Carol or if you want to engage with other
participants, you can make any comments or questions there. If you do have technical issues,
which I do see some people are having some issues with sound
or with seeing the PowerPoint on the screen, please do note that
in the technical issues box and our team behind the scenes will
do their best to help you with your individual situations. A question that came up, and
that always comes up, is: When can we see this PowerPoint
or this presentation, the video of it? And that will be available
in the next several days. You should get an e-mail
following today’s event that gives you the link for that, and
you can share that with other colleagues or people that
were unable to attend today. If you are having some
difficulties with the sound, that will be a good way for
you to have a chance to see the entire webinar. So, I think that’s
our housekeeping. And the other thing is that, I
think Nicole had mentioned it in the – in one of the questions,
but the ‘resources to download’ box in the bottom does have the
PowerPoint, so you can download it there and have a copy
for yourself to look at. I think that’s it
for the moment. Let’s pull up our pod with our
question and, like Carol said, we’re really interested in
hearing from all of you about really what aspects of
differentiation in the definitions and the description
that she provided resonate with you and the experience
you have in schools? Looks like a few
folks are familiar and using flexible grouping. That’s wonderful to see. I really like that notion of
proactive versus reactive, too, I think that resonated
with a few others. Carol, I’m seeing the
responses from folks. How do these experiences – how
are they similar or different than what you’re seeing from
your pre-service teachers and the teachers out in the field
that you’re working with? CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: That’s
actually an interesting question, Elizabeth. Folks tell us often that
pre-service teachers have so many skills that they have
to develop, that it’s really, really hard for them to
focus in on the finer points. So I’ve referred to that
sometimes in writing as pre-service teachers needing to
develop the gross motor skills of teaching, and expert teachers
working really hard to develop the fine motor
skills of teaching. And I think, to some
degree, that’s true. But we actually find that our
pre-service teachers grasp the notion of differentiation
much more quickly than veteran teachers sometimes do. Of course, you can’t generalize
across any group, but I think that’s because
they don’t have so many habits already developed. Somebody said once that making
a major change, it’s not usually the thing that you’re changing
to that’s so hard, it’s letting go of the thing that
you’ve always done. And I think that’s true with
differentiation as well. But I would have to say, as I’m
quickly trying to read through these, I’m impressed and
encouraged with the number of things people have seized onto,
and with positive ways that they’re looking at the ideas
that they’re taking in through their own experiences. So that’s a pretty
cool thing to see. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Absolutely,
and one of the questions that we got a couple of times in advance
of today’s webinar, and I see Patricia is asking: How do
we make sure that teachers understand that this isn’t
really about more work for them? That having a classroom where
you differentiate is really going to put all these pieces
together and end up, I wouldn’t say less work in the
end, but it’s going to maximize your effort. So I know you’re going to talk
a lot about that throughout today’s presentation, and give
us some realistic examples of differentiation in practice
and how that can play out. So we’ll hold kind of on that
thought, and get us moving along into the next section so
that you can hear some more pearls of knowledge. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Okay, so
let me say in regard just to that one thing. You said one comment, and then a
couple in regard to the parking lot question, so I was able
to [unclear] that quickly. For those of you who asked early
on in this little thread about could I give you an example of
teaching and what that might look like. We actually are going to
do that when we get to the concrete examples. I’m going to share with you one
that I think illustrates that point really well. So hang tight. We will be looking at those. And then in regard to the
comment that Elizabeth just made about helping teachers
understand that differentiation isn’t intended to pile more
things on them, but it’s sort of a different effort. I have a friend who is fond of
saying that if you decide that you want to lose weight, it’s
probably not smart to go ahead and eat the regular meal that
you had planned to eat, and then eat the reduced calorie
food on top of that. It’s probably a little wiser
to replace one with the other. And I think that’s the case
with many changes in schools. It is the case that leaders in
schools of all kinds – veteran teachers, grade level chairs and
department chairs, principals, curriculum coordinators, Special
Ed folks – everybody needs to help us understand that
differentiation can’t be about doing everything you always did,
and then adding something else. It’s really about trying to
understand equivalences, and instead of doing
this, I might do this. Or, instead of investing in
this, I might get more power if I did this thing. The truth of the matter
is I don’t know how to make teaching easy. And so when I hear really often,
you know, this is kind of hard, I always think, but you’re
standing in front of human beings, it’s going to be hard. You know, if it’s going to work
well, it’s going to be hard. And I think most good teachers
are not afraid of hard work. I think what we really are
concerned about is that we don’t know how to do better until
somebody helps us see that. So I’m going to talk with you
later in this session about some things that I think leaders
in schools can do to really be helpful in helping teachers
develop the confidence and the competence over time in a
very step-wise kind of way. I think we sometimes, as
teachers, get this notion that if we can’t do something
perfectly next Monday, we should just give it up. I think great teaching is a
lifelong pursuit, and I think differentiation
is a part of that. And we shouldn’t expect
ourselves to master something complex in a day, a week, a
month, or a year, any more than we expect our students to master
all of mathematics in a day, a month, a week, or a year. We need to be into it for a
long haul and to help, to have leaders who support us in
understanding that process, and charting it out for ourselves
in a way that makes sense. So if we can remove this
question slide, whoops, then we can kind of…Here we go then. So the next thing I want to
do is share with you three, I guess, rationales
for differentiation. Three reasons why it’s probably
worth the effort that we’re going to put into
it to give it a try. Why it matters to be
responsive to kids’ needs. And that’s really all
differentiation is is trying to respond to the human beings
that are sitting out there in front of us. So I’m going to look briefly,
and I’m going to try to do all these briefly. You’ll have slides that you can
look at that will help you if you want to go back and review,
and also some resources that will be listed at the end
of the session if you’d like to read further. So we’re going to look briefly
at some things that theory and research in education tell
us about differentiation. Then we’re going to
look at some demographic arguments for differentiation. And then I want to just briefly
sort of drop in the notion of ethics as a reason
for differentiation. So, first of all, theory for
attending to student readiness, does it matter to know where
a kid’s entry point is? “We’re supposed to be teaching
6th grade math, by George, and that’s what this book is, and
I’ve got some kids that are still struggling with 3rd
grade math, and some that could probably be okay in high school. Does it matter to attend to
that, or should I just forge down the pike?” Theorists in education have
talked about things, like with Vygotsky with his notion of the
Zone of Proximal Development, and he said, “We only grow as
human beings when the thing we’re trying to do is a little
out in front of us, and somebody helps us over that hump. And then, as soon as we get over
the hump, somebody needs to put something that’s a little too
far in front of us out there, again, and help us
over that hump.” People in brain research call
that moderate challenge, and as it turns out, brain research is
suggesting to us that Vygotsky was exactly right. We have to learn when
something’s a little bit too hard for us. Theorists also suggest that when
kids continue to try to do stuff that makes no sense to them,
they get really frustrated, and ultimately become
discouraged learners. And, on the other hand, when
kids are continually told to do homework or practice [unclear
audio] with something that they already fully understand, that’s
equally frustrating as well. And so, theorists suggest to
us that there’s a relationship between student achievement and
the teacher’s ability to know where a kid is, and provide that
piece that comes next that’s a little too far out in front. So, that’s what folks have
theorized in education about readiness and whether it
matters to attend to it. Here’s some information
on research that stems from that theory. Again, this is a very
brief capsule of a great deal of stuff. But, in fact, studies in a
lot of areas – in reading, in multi-age classrooms, in gifted
education, in special education, in regular ed classrooms – show
us that when we can get tasks at the right levels of challenge
for kids, achievement gains happen for a very
broad range of students. So, in other words, our capacity
to pitch the lesson, the actual goals that we have will
rarely need to change in most contemporary classrooms. There’s all kinds of schools,
but generally, the goals that we have won’t shift that much. But trying to pitch what the
kid is going to work on just a little too far out for that kid
is a skill that really benefits kids when teachers gain it. And the gains that we see occur
across economic ranges, grade levels, and achievement levels. The bottom line on research on
readiness-based differentiation really is this. If you want your kids to grow
academically, they have to be working with something
that’s a little too hard for them as individuals. Then folks have some theory
about whether it matters to attend to kids’
interests in a classroom. I’ve got a kid who’s in love
with baseball, but that just doesn’t happen to be in
the Common Core standards. Got a kid who just can’t sit
still because he’s so excited about music or truly loves
comic books, or a thousand other things that might be out there. Does it matter to try to figure
out what that interest stuff is in a classroom and
do anything about it? Or is that just really beyond
the scope of what’s meaningful and possible? So, theorists, again, a few of
whom – but not all by any matter of means, they’re listed at
the bottom of the slide – have theorized that helping kids
pursue their own interest through the lens of what you’re
teaching really maximizes their engagement with learning. That when we can do that, when
we can tap a student’s interest in the context of the things
that we need to be teaching, learning is much more likely to
be rewarded, and students are much more likely to just take
off as autonomous learners. And, they theorize that what
people call flow is much more likely to occur when students
can do something that they seriously love doing,
can get lost in it. They tell us that there’s almost
no psychological condition that’s more satisfying to
humans than that sense of doing something that’s so absorbing
that the time just flies by and you have no idea
where that hour went. So, all of these theorists are
suggesting to us that tapping into interest really has a
great deal to do with students’ willingness to devote
themselves to learning. What does research tell us? There, again, this is real
digestible, a lot of stuff, but here are a couple of examples,
and then I’ll tell you sort of what the bottom line
is with interest. A couple of examples. There was an article quite
recently about some research that’s been done with students
who have continued on through school and into college with
more advanced mathematics. In other words, they’ve bought
into themselves as students who should be engaging with
math, and they do math. And, what they’ve found in
working with those students who have continued on, is that
teachers who had really high expectations for them, not just
doing practice, but I expect you to understand this, to
participate in discussions about it, unpack your thinking. Don’t care if it’s
not quite right yet. That’s not the point. We need to learn how
to think about this. When teachers have those high
expectations and when they let kids know that they’re pleased
with their hard work and that the kids are willing to hang on
with complex tasks, those things made a lot more difference
in the kids’ willingness to continue with math than
did the kids’ perceptions of their ability. In other words, the kids
that they looked at weren’t like, “Okay. I was born smart in math, and
that’s how come I’m doing this, and people have always
told me I was smart.” The fact that teachers expected
a great deal of them, supported them in doing that, and
praised them for hanging on and toughening out when it was
difficult, even if they didn’t get the thing right, mattered
more than their perception of their ability. And then, on a smaller level, a
number of studies have been done like this second one
cited on the slide. In an algebra class, some kids
were divided into two groups. One group of kids – I think it
was quadratic equations they were working on; I may be
incorrect about that – but advanced level math for
middle/high school kids. Some of the kids were given just
the book problems, and some of the kids were given problems
that were personalized for them. And the way the personalized
thing worked was this – the researchers gave students
interest inventories, and the kids were able to say things
that they particularly liked spending their time
on outside of school. So, some of the kids in the
personalized group might have gotten a problem to solve that
was nested in baseball, and another one might have gotten
one that was nested in the stock market or that was
nested in driving. And, what’s interesting is they
both got the same instruction, and the problems
were all the same. It’s just that the wording had
to do with science or with music or with automobiles. And what they found was the
kids who got the personalized problems did much better on the
math problems than the kids who just got the generic ones. The researchers point out that,
at some point, you have to help the kids be able to transfer
from a problem on the stock market to any other problem, but
it made a significant difference in students’ achievement at the
outset, and it worked best for the kids who saw themselves
as the weakest math student. So, again, if you can hook what
you’re teaching onto interests, and I’m going to show you an
example of that later as well, that makes a difference. So, when we go back to the
readiness theme, what research and theory tell us is if you
want kids to grow academically, it helps to address readiness. What the interest-based research
and theory tells us is if you want high motivation for kids,
then it’s really helpful to tap into their interests. The third element that we can
differentiate in response to is the student’s learning profile,
and that has to do with how we take in information
and process it. Do we feel like we learn better
when we can watch somebody do a task first and then
read the directions? Or might we be the person who
does much better if you’ll just hush and let us read the thing
three times and then show us, because that reading is
going to really benefit us? Are you a student who does
better by kind of thinking outside the box and
coming up with usual applications of things? Or are you a student who does
really well with picking things apart and kind of putting the
parts back together in wholes? This one topic would, again, be
another good webinar, kind of a complex one. This is the one area in which
experts have pretty strong disagreements about the wisdom
and efficacy of working with this in schools. Learning profile is impacted by
three things – or four potential things: learning style,
culture, gender, and intelligence preferences. Those are the four bodies of
theory and research that support attending to this particular
notion of the fact that kids learn in different ways. There doesn’t seem to be too
much disagreement about the fact that there’s some interesting
differences in the ways that males and females can learn. Although, of course, not all
females learn the same way. Not all males
learn the same way. There are no sharp dividing
lines, but we do seem over the years to have traced down the
notion that gender can impact how we learn. Quite a bit written on the fact
that culture impacts how we learn, and when you go to a
school that is rooted very strongly in one particular
majority culture, and you don’t happen to be a part of that
majority culture, things can feel out of sync a lot. And so, a lot of what we talk
about, in terms of culturally relevant pedagogy, has to do
with aligning ways we teach with the ways that all of our
students can see the world. So, those two things, culture
and gender, don’t seem to be too much of a sticking point. There are researchers who feel
strongly that we don’t have a body of evidence that supports
differentiating in terms of learning style and
intelligence preference. And I think even the
intelligence preference thing is probably murky, because folks
tend to talk about it in a way that doesn’t accurately
represent the work that people in that field have done. But here’s the thing for me. This would be my caution. I’m not a big fan of downloading
a learning style or an intelligence preference survey
and giving it to kids and saying, “Okay. Now I know you’re the
part-to-whole learner. You’re the kinesthetic learner.” Several reasons for that
being not particularly effective practice. In the first place, very few
of those surveys have any reliability or validity. In the second place, we have no
reason to think that a kid is the same kind of learner in
every subject or at every point in the learning cycle, or
even at the same time of day. So, my best shot is trying to
say that if we have variety in the classroom and can help
kids encounter and process and express things in different
ways, for a variety of reasons, that improves learning
environment, attitude, perhaps speed of learning, that kind of
thing, efficiency of learning. But in the end, theorists have
suggested, again, that when we take in and express learning
through preferred intelligences, we learn better. That reflects the works of
Gardner and a few other folks that have looked at his approach
to multiple intelligences. Robert Sternberg has
hypothesized that, when we can take in and express content in
what he calls a triarchic theory of intelligence,
that we learn better. And, we have a lot of work from
people like Dunn and Dunn, who did their work probably 20 or 30
years ago, that students score better, achieve better, when
their learning styles are matched to their
learning opportunities. Folks criticize the Dunn and
Dunn research, because they say it doesn’t have the rigor of
21st century research, and it probably doesn’t, but I don’t
expect medicine 40 years ago had quite the rigor of 21st
century medicine either. So, at least at their point,
they were doing research that was pretty well regarded. So, what are theorists finding? What do researchers find out? I’m sorry. I’m skipping a step. This slide is still
theory, and it deals with gender and culture. So, again, people who are
theorists and who watch things, abstract from that, tell us
that some teaching styles and approaches may be advantageous
to some kids, and simultaneously disadvantageous to others. That’s a cultural
or gender issue. Learning can be hampered
due to cultural mismatches or to gender mismatches. And, also, when we use varied
approaches to teaching and learning, and kids develop a
voice about what’s going to work better for them, that should
be more effective for them. So, in the end, here’s what
research tells us, or at least some chunk of it. That teaching through multiple
modes leads to improved achievement across subjects,
grade levels, contexts. That opening up the way we teach
and the way we offer learning opportunities and helping kids
decide which approach is going to work best for them
does, in fact, lead to increased test scores. And I think this last idea,
which comes from the work of Robert Sternberg, whose research
I think is quite sound, finds in his research something that I
think we need to look at and think about, as teachers or
as leaders with teachers. He finds that when kids can
learn in accordance with their particular preferences for
learning, they make higher scores on standardized tests,
even when that test is not in their preferred mode. And that addresses the panic we
have of, “Oh, I could let the kid do this, but the test isn’t
going to let him do this.” I think sort of the subscript
of Sternberg’s work is that the test is not the same as
instruction, comes at the end of instruction. It shouldn’t drive instruction. And when students can learn in
a way that works for them, they probably go into that
test with two benefits. One is they’ve learned more, and
second, they see themselves as more successful, and that
benefits the test as well. Again, this learning profile
piece is a complex one, interesting to look at, and sort
of mixed messages in some ways, including from some
neuroscientists who are very experienced, and who say the
variety in the classroom is extraordinarily important, and
some other neuroscientists who say we just don’t know
enough to support that yet. So, I want to now kind of wrap
this research piece up with a little bit on the
work of John Hattie. Many of you
probably know his work. He has done a massive job
of doing a meta-analyses, a meta-analysis of over 800
meta-analyses, just a massive distillation of research
that’s available to us. And here are some things
that he says are…sorry. I’m going in the wrong way,
directionally compromised. Here are some things
that he concludes about research and teaching. He classifies hundreds of
practices that we have committed over time, in terms of their
effectiveness in helping students learn. What I am going to show you here
is just a tiny piece of that. But the way he tends to do his
work…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this. This piece
does not want to come up. Okay. So, he wrote two books. He wrote Visible Learning,
which is – and these are great things for you to look at
if you haven’t had the opportunity to do it. Really impressive. And, not only is the research
impressive, but he’s a very clear writer. He remembers who
his audience is. He first wrote a book
called Visible Learning, and in that he says, “Okay. So, here’s what I’ve found in
terms of all of these hundreds of meta-analyses that I’ve
looked at,” and in very user-friendly terms really, he
shares with us the distillation of what he found
from that research. And then, not too long after
that, he followed up with a second book called Visible
Learning for Teachers, and he says, “Okay. So, if Visible Learning says
what I found out, then what the second book tells teachers
is what they might want to be thinking about, based on that
research and our findings.” So, he organizes the scores and
scores of strategies he looked at under different categories. So, he talks about ones that
really should not be used at all in classrooms, ones that have
only marginal value, ones that are kind of mediocre. And then he moves into four
categories where he says, “These are the ones that
we should be doing. Let’s have them. These are even more exciting. Here are some that are really
among the best, and here are the best approaches, in terms of
impact on student learning.” And, what he’s saying is, “Let’s
assume most teachers get nine months of growth out
of kids in nine months. So then, if that’s the case, the
big question for us is, what is it that teachers do that get
more than nine months out of kids in nine months?” And so, he has some practices. For example, in general, grade
retention does not seem to benefit achievement, and he
lists a number of things that apparently either are negatives
or strong negatives, some negative, mediocre, nothing, and
then moves into the better ones. And what I want you
to look at here is some of these categories. Effective classroom management
that leads to flexibility. Small group learning, important,
except that you have to have different materials
for different groups. If you just put kids in groups
and let them sit there, you don’t have much. What makes small group learning
powerful, he says, is when the group has materials and tasks
that are appropriate to the needs of that group. Student engagement
really matters he says. That has a good
impact on learning. And student motivation, when
they feel really in charge of their learning. Goals that are
really challenging that seem to make me stretch. Working with peers in a way that
gives me a sense of community. Learning that it’s cooperative,
rather than competitive. Classroom that
functions as a community. Different models of quality
works for students, at different levels of proficiency, so that
kids can see what something might look like and not
be working in the blind. Not labeling students. He thinks that labeling students
is really a problem, and not labeling students is a
benefit, pretty strong benefit. Using a variety of teaching
strategies, rather than the same tools over and over. Helping kids learn to
be more collaborative than individualistic. And then, the really big ones. Formative assessment
that carries feedback instead of grades. Teacher clarity about
kids and content. Again, communal, reciprocal
teaching in the classroom. One of the most important
is feedback that’s targeted to that student. And, second most important,
well, certainly among the most important still, is this
teacher-student relationship. These things really are the
cornerstones of differentiation. These are the practices
that…and some others, but these are the practices
that we really advocate. And so, when he says we’ve
looked at all these studies, and this is what seems to propel
us forward the best, what he’s really talking about is many of
the elements of differentiation that we’ve
advocated really strongly. I’m going to finish this piece
with a quote from Hattie, and I realize that it’s a little bit
long, but it speaks directly to me as a teacher, and helps me
really sort of see the essence of differentiation, and I hope
it will for some of you as well. In reality, what he’s
saying is, “Okay. So, I’ve told you about
all these meta-analyses. Now what?” And differentiation is the
topic that he brings up there. He doesn’t exactly write this
line, but it’s sort of almost as though he’s saying, “Look. When you see all the stuff, all
the differences that come with kids, all the things teachers
have to attend to, we’re going to have to do
something about that. We can’t just sit there and say
they’re all alike, and my job is to just teach 6th grade
math, and I’ll teach it no matter what.” But here’s how he talks
about differentiation. “Teachers need to know where
each student begins and is in his or her journey, to meeting
the criteria of the lesson. What are the students’
strengths, gaps in knowledge? How much does the
student understand? What learning tools does the
student have, and how can we help the kid learn other tools
to use in his or her behalf? And the teacher is going to have
to provide different ways in which students can demonstrate
mastery and understanding along the way to meeting the criteria
for success, rather than formative feedback,” he
says, “can be very useful. All classes,” he says, “are
full of heterogeneity, which is likely advantageous, because
students can learn from one another if we
set it up that way. And art of teaching,” he says,
“is seeing the commonality among the differences and
having peers work together around those commonalities.” That’s really at the
crux of differentiation. Your goal is not to create 37
lesson plans for 37 students in a class. It’s to see what common needs
they have, and to kind of clump them around those needs
a good bit of the time. Clearly, sometimes we need to
reach out for individuals as much as we can, and clearly
there are lots of times when we need to work with the class. But the essence of
differentiation is what patterns do I see in the student
differences, and how do I reach out for those? And then he says, “Note that
differentiation relates more to addressing students’ different
phases of learning, from novice to capable to proficient, rather
than merely providing different activities to different
groups of students.” A common misunderstanding of
differentiation that I see is that as long as we’re doing
different things in the class I must be differentiating. What he’s saying here is the key
is to understand where everybody needs to go, and then understand
the different journeys that kids are taking to get there, and
providing something that is just a little too far out in front
for that particular group of kids to move them
on down the pike. The key is for teachers
to have a clear reason for differentiation, and to relate
what they do differently to where the student is located
on a progression of learning related to the topic at hand. In grouping students, the goal
is to group students at varied places in the progression, so
students can move forward as they discuss with, work with,
and see the world through the eyes of other students. In order for grouping to be
effective, it requires structure and instruction for the students
to develop the skills necessary for those things to happen. That’s part of the fifth
idea in Adam’s list. We have to help kids understand
what it is we are trying to do, and develop the skills to work
alongside us as our partner in effectively
differentiated classrooms. So, let’s stop here
for just a minute. We’ve looked at some theories
about whether it matters or why it might matter to differentiate
by readiness, and some research that says it gets us growth. We’ve looked at some theories
about differentiating by interest, and some research that
says that buys us motivation. We’ve looked at some theories
about differentiating by learning profile, and although
there is some dispute about that one, in general there’s a
recognizable body of research that suggests to us that that
buys us learning efficiency, rather than causing everybody
to work in the same way. And then we looked at the
synthesis of Hattie’s work, which I hope goes back for
you to the five elements of differentiation that we talked
about and the philosophies and the practices that we discussed. So, we’ll let Elizabeth take
us into this next open-ended question that will help you
reflect a little bit here. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Wonderful. There’s a lot to think and
digest with that last section on the research, and I know there
are a few questions over there in the parking lot
which we’ll get to. Right now, what we’ll do is open
up this question, and as Carol just kind of restated for us,
we’re interested in finding out from you if your experiences are
in support or contradiction of these ideas of learner
readiness, interest, and learning profile, and the
research that was shared on those topics. So, we’re going to put that up
and allow you to formulate your thoughts and get
some ideas out there. Before I get to…I want
to get to Jason’s question. So, Carol, if you have a chance
to glance at that over in the parking lot, that
would be great. And, I want to just
call attention to one housekeeping item. Some folks were asking about the
archive of the information that comes through our parking
lot and through our open-ended question. We will make those available
after the webinar, like the video and the archived event. Those will be part of the
materials that you will receive an email about. So, if you’re not able, like us,
to capture every single thing as it’s coming through, just know
that you’ll have access to that information in a few days. So, share away. Share your ideas here
in the question box. And then, Carol, let’s take a
look at Jason’s question, a good one, and I think a concern in
the classroom that we have. How do we balance this
expectation that we prepare students for standardized tests,
but also embrace the notions of Hattie’s research, that we
need to engage with students formatively and ensure that
we’re responding to their learning in real time? CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Okay. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: So, if you
have thoughts on that now, that would be great. Otherwise, we can hold
it for a little later. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Oh, okay. I’m sorry. Okay. Sure. I was looking at
a couple of these. Let me respond to David’s
question first just really quickly, and then I’ll try
to hit Jason’s a bit, too. David asked whether research on
learning styles emphasizes that students learn through a variety
of approaches, rather than a match with a
specific learning style. And I want to be
sure to say this, too. The fascinating thing about
teaching is the poor old human brain can only process so much. And so, I may say something, and
your head’s someplace else, and it completely misses you, and
that’s what happens in front of us in classrooms as well. I said to you, quickly, that we
have no reason to assume that kids are going to learn the same
way in math and in literature, that they’re going to learn the
same way in the morning and the afternoon, that they’re going to
learn the same way when they’re just beginning to explore a
complex topic as they will when they are very
comfortable with it. And so, the people who I think
do the wisest writing would suggest to us that it’s great
to have options for students and help them decide, “Which of
these approaches is going to work best for me right now? And what does work best mean? And how do I monitor along the
way to see if it is working? If it’s not, what other
choices do I have?” Rather than saying, “You
are this kind of learner, so therefore you should
do this kind of task.” I’m with David, who seems to be
suggesting that he believes also that this “match a kid to
a style” is not useful. I think it’s restrictive, and
I think it doesn’t reflect our best knowledge. So then, Jason is sort of asking
the question, as Elizabeth paraphrased for us, in his
particular case, with how do we move to a system that
embraces…I’m having trouble making this stay still in the
box…as I’m remembering the question when it was sitting
in front of me, that embraces feedback without grades. Truly, we have the biggest
miss with grades on the planet. I don’t know that there’s
anything we’ve done in teaching that we’ve made more
convoluted than grades. And it’s really
not about a grade. It’s about helping a kid know
where they’re supposed to be going, where they are, and
what they can do about it to get there. An 82 doesn’t tell me anything,
but if a teacher says, “This is the point at which
you are struggling. You might want to check on X and
Y,” or, “Look at this particular model,” or, “Here’s the task at
the center you could work on. Try that and see where you go.” That helps the kid much more
securely understand what it is they need to do and how to move. I don’t believe we have a
scintilla of evidence that giving a kid a grade improves
their achievement on a standardized test, or anything
else much, with the exception of the child who is particularly
grade hungry, and as one of my students said, would kill his
grandmother to get two points on a test. That student will continue to do
whatever’s necessary to get the two points on the test, but
Carol [unclear] will tell us that that’s a student who’s
learning for reward and not for any satisfaction in learning. And what research tells us there
is when we cut off the rewards, the learning quits as well. So, I think with any of these
things that seem a departure from what we do, I think we
ought to study them as teachers and as leaders, and talk about
what knowledgeable people are saying about them, and see what
we think could be a good next step for us to try something. Not throw everything out
tomorrow and try something we don’t understand yet,
but really have good discussions about that. What does common
sense seem to say? What does best practice
look like here? And I would be glad to bet you
my lunch money that if you had teachers who were willing to
say, “Let me take a chance here. Let me give kids
very clear feedback. Let me help kids learn
to give each other…” which is tricky as well, by the
way, but, “learn to give each other good feedback.” And I really believe my kids
will be much more in charge of their learning, and will learn
much better, and will therefore perform on a
standardized test better. If you really believe that your
life work is to help kids score better on the Common Core and
that’s it, that’s what you’re there for, only to help them
score better on the Common Core, I would still propose to
you that Vygotsky’s correct. You need to find out what that
kid’s next step is and move him along, rather than saying, “Yes. I know I’m teaching six months
or a year ahead of the kids, or six months or two years behind
the kids, but all I can do is cover it because that’s
what’s on the test.” If we’re clear where we’re going
and we know where kids are and we can move them down the pike
from where they are, I think we have ample evidence
that they’ll do better on the standardized test. My persuasion is that teaching
is about building lives, and that kind of approach does
a lot better with building lives as well. But even if we think it’s
only the standardized test, everything we know suggests that
we have to take kids where they are and move them
ahead from that point. We shouldn’t be behind them, but
we shouldn’t be too terribly far ahead of them either. ELIZABETH GRENINGER:
Thanks, Carol, for getting to that question. I think the response is helpful,
and as you’ve been taking some time with that, of course, folks
are really responding to our question here in
the open-ended poll. And I want to acknowledge those
responses, but I want to also make sure we get to move along
and hear all of the additional information you
have to share with us. So, I just want to summarize
one or two themes that I saw in those responses, and maybe we
won’t really touch on them at the moment, but I think as we go
through the rest of the content we’ll get back to
some of these themes. One theme folks are saying is
that this information in the research resonates with them and
their experiences, their goals at their schools or districts,
but there is still this element of complexity of teaching, which
you alluded to earlier, that teaching is a difficult job, and
there’s a lot of variables at play in making all of the pieces
come together in the classroom on a regular basis. So, that’s, I think, what people
are generally struggling with and continuing to struggling
with, that yes, in theory, this all makes sense, but the
how of making it happen. And some questions in the
parking lot from Michelle and Laura are asking some
more specifics about their situations, and how do I work
with this challenging situation? So, I want to move on from this
so that we can get to the rest of the information. If we have a chance, we’ll
circle back to some of those more specifics, if that’s okay. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Absolutely. So, if we can take down
the question box now, and we’ll truck on. In terms of demographics, just
really quickly, our kids do not come to us at the
same entry point. They don’t come with the same
supports and opportunities as each other. They don’t come with the same
history and background, same interests, or necessarily
learning in the same ways. It’s very common these days, and
in my opinion a good thing, that we have second language learners
seated next to a kid with learning challenges, seated
next to a kid from a low-income background, seated next to an
advanced learner, seated next to a kid with an emotional
challenge, seated next to kids from a variety of races and
cultures, a growing number of students who are homeless. Huge variance in the
experiences of kids. And yet, despite that variance
– and the variance will vary according to your schools, of
course, but there really is no such thing as a
homogeneous class. Really never has been, but
the idea these days seems way off target. But despite that, despite the
fact that all of us as teachers see that variance, we still tend
to teach as though pretty much all kids are exactly alike. So, I think to myself some
time on this deal about the ethics of education. What would we do if we made
instructional decisions from some sort of an ethical north,
that thing on the compass that says this is the direction that
is the soundest in terms of what’s right? What if we made decisions on
what was in the best interest of students, perhaps rather than
what’s in the best interest of a test score? And I don’t think those two
things are in conflict to each other, by the way, but it
puts the emphasis in a different place. What would we do if we
thought it was right, even if it wasn’t popular? To what degree do we do
what might be called caring about our students? Geneva Gay separates,
distinguishes between caring about students and
caring for students. How much do we care about them? How much do we care for them? And, here’s what she says. “Teachers who care about
their students really enjoy their company. They like to spend
time with them. They enjoy conversations. They think about them
some out of the classroom. They take pleasure in being with
those students,” and that’s a good thing. When we find teachers who care
about their kids, it’s almost always a better place to be. But then she says there’s
another realm that we could go to, and that’s
caring for our students. And what she says that means is
if we’re going to care for them, as well as caring about them,
it means that we will have to do whatever’s necessary
to ensure their welfare. In other words, it’s not just
that I enjoy your conversation. It’s that I feel compelled to do
– in terms of scheduling, class possibilities, who teaches what,
how I teach you, what materials I use – I feel compelled to do
what’s necessary to ensure that the best outcomes
for you happen. What would happen if we worked
from a caring for students, as well as just caring about them? So, two people who have been
really helpful in my thinking with this have written
two contrasting pieces. Haberman talked about what he
calls “a pedagogy of poverty.” And he says, “There are
classrooms in many schools these days where almost everything
is about teachers telling information, asking right-answer
questions, giving directions, practicing low-level tasks,
monitoring seat work, reviewing, giving tests, going over tests,
assigning homework, going over homework, settling disputes,
punishing kids, grading papers, and giving grades.” Now, all of those things all
of us do sometimes, but he’s talking about
classrooms where this is pretty much the wallpaper. And he says, “I can tell you
two sad things about kids who experience the
pedagogy of poverty. One is most of
those kids are poor. In other words, these kinds of
classes tend to be overpopulated with students of color
and low-income students.” And he says, “The second thing
is, when kids get a steady diet of this, you’ve just guaranteed
them poverty forever, because there’s no way for them to break
loose really in the world.” By contrast, Helene Hodges says,
“There are classes in almost every school where kids are
doing authentic tasks and they having meaning-rich curriculum,
literacy-rich environments, very interesting resources,
connections between home and culture and community,
problem-focused learning, kids being aware of their own
thinking, lots of collaboration, bunches of different kinds of
grouping, continual dialogue to figure things out,
and making meaning.” And paralleling Haberman, Hodges
said, “I can tell you two things about these classes. Most of them right now are made
up of more privileged kids. In other words, kids who have
plenty, and the kids who have a steady diet of these classes
have a recipe, a doorway open for plenty in their futures.” What would happen if we taught
a pedagogy of plenty in every classroom, and differentiated it
by scaffolding up so more kids had a crack at that? What if we reversed the
trend that’s the case across the country? Certainly not every classroom in
every school by any means, but that kids of color and
low-income kids are likely to have weaker teachers, and kids
of plenty are likely to have stronger teachers. What if we taught all of our
teachers to try to think more like teachers of high-end kids
and work with their students in that way? Would we change any
of our decisions? Lorna Earl, who’s a Canadian
educator, has this comment in a book that she wrote, and it’s
a little prickly, and I think she’s probably right. She says, “The teacher’s
overriding moral purpose is to meet the needs of students,
even when it conflicts with personal preferences.” How would we teach if we were
determined to do the most ethically robust thing
that we could do? Just really interesting
to think about. I’ll tell you a real quick
story, which I think is one reason this stays
on my mind so much. I was teaching a class of
pre-service teachers several years ago, and there was a young
woman in there who was the kind of student that you just are
so excited to have in a class. She loved what she was learning. She was immersed in it. She asked terrific questions. She was doing additional work
on the outside, not for brownie points, but because
she just loved it. I guess we were five or six
weeks into class, and I gave the students an index card and I
said, “I want you to tell me on the index card one thing that
has changed in your thinking in the last six weeks
in this class. It can be something you didn’t
know before and now you know it. It can be something, a
belief that you’ve changed. It can be something that you
feel more strongly about. It can be something that
you’re arguing with. I don’t have anything in mind. I just want to know what’s
changed in your thinking in the last six weeks.” And this really stellar young
woman, who was at this point about eight weeks from
graduating and becoming a teacher, said, “This is the
first time in my education preparation that I have
understood that teaching is an ethically-based profession.” And I thought, holy cow. How did that happen? This student who is as
well-prepared and as excited as anybody I’ve ever seen, and
somehow we missed the notion that ethics is
central in what we do. So, I think that’s a great
question to ask ourselves. From what ethical
basis do we operate? So, we’re going to give you a
chance to reflect on that just a little bit, and we’ll let
Elizabeth set up this thought question for you. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Carol, you
know, I think we’re going to have to skip this question,
because I do want to make sure we get to everything, and we
have still another question at the end for
folks to weigh in on. But, in lieu of this question,
I do want to just call attention to two questions
over in the parking lot. Kate is asking about your
thoughts on how Universal Design for Learning, UDL, aligns with
differentiated instruction and the notions you’ve
been talking about. That might be a little bigger
than we want to bite off right now, but if you could give
us a quick response to that. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Sure. I can do it real quick then. I think the two models are going
in exactly the same direction. I’ve worked with the
UDL folks before. Some of them have come to our
Institute from differentiation here at UVA. I don’t see anything in those
conversations or in our reading that has any different
intent at all. The version of differentiation
that I use casts a slightly bigger tent. UDL had its roots in working
with kids who have learning problems, tends to be a little
more focused on the lower grades than on high school, although
it’s applicable everywhere, has tended to focus a little more
on math and literacy rather than all subjects, although it
belongs in all subjects and works in all of them, has tended
to have a very strong connection with uses of technology,
which are becoming much more pervasive, of course,
than when UDL started. So, it’s a little bit more
specific, but there isn’t a single thing that UDL is
recommending that I find any problems with, and I believe
the same would be true the other way around. I think it’s just slightly
different versions of the same end goals. ELIZABETH GRENINGER:
Wonderful. Wonderful. I know others were interested
in a similar question, how to attend to the needs of students
with disabilities, so that touches on it in some way. The other question that Cindy’s
asking, that several folks had asked us in advance of today’s
webinar, was related to dealing with advanced learners. So, students who might be gifted
and talented, students who are above grade level. How are we making
sure that differentiation meets their needs? And maybe you can
speak quickly on that. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Sure. To me, it’s all of
the same fabric. My job is to understand
our trajectory of learning. In general, how do kids in
science progress through this content that we’re working with? In general, how do kids progress
in this math trajectory that goes from grade one to grade
six, or grade three to grade five, or whatever piece
you want to pick up? I need to understand that
trajectory, and then I need to try to figure out, as Hattie
says, where my kids are in that trajectory, and move on. And so, for a high-end kid one
of the hard things as a teacher is to say, “You know what? I see evidence here that the kid
knows this, and I’d really like to believe that he can’t truly
know it until he’s heard it from me, but that’s
probably not the case. If I’ve got evidence that he
knows it, I need to move him on.” And, unfortunately, that’s one
of a number of places where we tend to fall a little
short with differentiation. We worry about the strugglers,
and we’re trying really hard to help them propel themselves down
the road, and then we just feel so grateful that these other
kids got it that we sometimes don’t put the energy there. It’s exactly the same thing. What do I do to help this kid
work in greater depth, with greater complexity, with
more variables, with more abstractions? There’s lots of language, lots
of approaches that we know to use with high-end kids to help
them move forward, and we need to be doing that for them
exactly as we would for any other kid in the class. Every kid ought to be able to
come to school every day with the sense that that teacher
is going to push them. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Absolutely. Let’s move up into the next
section, talking about how we can do this in practice. And, I think that’s a good
question lots of folks have had. How do I do this? CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Okay. So, this is the part that I’m
suspecting that many of you are particularly interested in, so
I’m pretty invested in trying to make sure that we get this done. Elizabeth, you’ll have to help
me, because we’ve got some other buckets after this, so
you’re going to have to decide how to prioritize. But I do want us to have some
real time to spend here, because these are the images we
need in our heads to work. I want to show you some examples
of teachers differentiating based on student readiness,
based on student interest, and based on student learning
profile – readiness to support growth, interest to support
motivation, learning profile to support efficiency. And I’m going to begin with
an example of “teaching up”. But I want to say to you, I’ve
chosen some reasonably robust examples here. In other words, I didn’t
pick necessarily step one. And I want to be sure to say to
you, I hope all of you will hear this, that what I’m going
to show you may well be more advanced than where
you feel like you are. You may be more
advanced than this. I have no way of
knowing that right now. But there are a thousand little
things we could do in the classroom to differentiate that
don’t look nearly as complicated as this. If I can learn just to meet with
small groups, if I can learn how to have my class working
productively so I can work with this group of six, and then this
group of seven, and then this group of four, over a class
period or over two days, that’s a huge benefit to students. If I can do little mini-classes,
mini-lectures, where I say to kids, “I’m noticing as I walk
around that a good many of you are struggling with this
point in the math problem. If you’re having any difficulty
with this, come sit over here on the floor with me for just
a minute, and let’s go back through this together again.” Just do a little mini-class like
that, and students who need the help can come sit with
you, and send them back when you’re finished. It’s possible to create two
different homework assignments, one for kids who really don’t
need this work with computation or the drill on the vocabulary
and language, and who could work with something meatier, and
other kids who may need the task that you had in mind. If we just use our imagination
and understand what I’m trying to do is know where we’re going,
who’s where, and move them ahead, and trust yourself,
you’ll invent lots of ways to differentiate. It doesn’t have to look
like what I’m going to show you at all. Give yourself permission to
start small, and keep growing. Just don’t give yourself
permission to stand still. You don’t need to push yourself
off a cliff, but standing still’s not ever going to
get us anywhere either. So, with that sermon ended,
let’s take a look here for a minute at some examples. Again, I’m going to show you
a readiness example with upper elementary social studies, which
I think exhibits “teaching up” very well; a readiness example
in primary math; an example in middle school English where a
teacher is differentiating on interest; and an example in high
school world history where the teacher is differentiating
based on learning profile. The first example is
particularly rich with the idea of “teaching up” but
look for “teaching up” in all the examples. What does “teaching up” mean? As I noted to you before,
it means planning first for advanced kids, and
then differentiating by scaffolding up. It means that you’re trying to
give access to as many kids as you possibly can, to the
richest, best, most compelling stuff that you know to teach,
and it’s a key premise of differentiation. So, a part of good
differentiation and good teaching is clarity about goals,
and I ask my students to tell me, before they share a unit
with me or a lesson, what kids should know, what they should
understand, and what they should be able to do as a result of
that unit, that lesson, that week, that year. If any of you’ve worked with
Understanding by Design, this is exactly what Wiggins and
McTighe are talking about. “Knows” are essential knowledge. “Understands” are
essential understandings. “Dos” are essential skills. So, this is the lesson about New
World Explorers, in other words the people who set off with not
too much certainty about what was going to happen from Europe,
and ended up in some place of our neck of the woods, and
discovered land that was new to them, opportunities
that were new to them. Certainly not new to the people
who already lived here, but new to them. So, in this upper elementary
unit, and I think it was a 5th grade class, the kids had
been doing really a lot of interesting work. The teacher had helped them
understand the status of science at that point in history, and
therefore what people did and didn’t know about how
the universe was shaped. They talked about how we might
get that distance now, and how different that would have been
and the transportation people would have had. Whether these guys on boats
had enough money to finance themselves, and where the money
might have come from, and what the motivations might have been
to finance the trips and those kinds of things. They had been doing some really
good background, I’m guessing maybe a couple of weeks before
this particular lesson that I’m going to show you. So, this is not the
first lesson in the unit. On this particular day ,the
teacher said to the kids, “Guys, we’ve talked a lot about
the circumstances of the explorations, but you really
haven’t had a chance too much yet to get to know any of
the explorers really deeply. We’ll keep working on that over
time, but today what I want you to do is this. I want you to choose two new
world explorers from this list that I’m going to present to you
that we’ve discussed in class. If there’s some other people
that you’ve read about that you want to add to the
list, just come tell me. And I want you to pick two of
those people that seem kind of interesting to you, and your job
is to learn basic information about those two new
world explorers. And then, I’m going to give
you some work to do with that.” What she wants the kids to know
is what is basic data about the two explorers, and why
do we still know them? What were their contributions? Why do we consider them
important enough to talk about them this many years later? What she wants them to
understand is that exploration, wherever it happens, involves
risk, involves cost, involves benefits, and
success and failures. So, you see,
exploration, it’s risky. It’s going to have both
up sides and down sides. You’re going to see people
succeeding and failing in the process. And she wants them to do a
good old Common Core thing, use resource materials to illustrate
and support your ideas. Now, at this point, these
goals are not up on a wall in front of kids. They’re in her mind when
she’s planning the unit. And so, she creates a lesson,
and this is what it says…and her directions were longer
and easier to read than mine. I’ve chunked them for you. I’ve sort of synthesized
or distilled them. “Okay, guys. I’m going to give you a list
of resources, books, websites, pamphlets, charts, and I’m going
to give you some choices of products, how you show
what you figure out. Your job is to show how your two
key explorers took chances, how they experienced success and
failure, and how they brought about both positive
and negative change. You should provide proof or
evidence, from the resource that you select to use, to tell
whether those things are true. Did your explorer take chances? Did he experience
success and failure? Did he bring about both
positive and negative change? And those product options you
have, well, you can do one of three things. You can do a first-person
monologue from the captain’s viewpoint, and we’ll take that,
and people can look at it. You can do a series of
storyboards that maps out the sequence of events and how those
events answer this question. Or, you can do a
chart that shows that. If you have a fourth way you’d
like to show what you know instead, just come tell me
and we’ll work on that.” So, if we were in a room
together and I could see your eyeballs, I’d ask you to think
about this for a minute, and tell me whether you think this
is a reasonably robust task for a 5th grade kid. And I think most of us would
say that if we had kids in classrooms where they were doing
this kind of work, we’d think it was pretty complementary for
the kid, pretty big deal. She also has a second
version of the task, and this is the second version. “Using reliable and defensible
research – and, by the way, I’m not going to give you a list of
resources – you figure out a way to show how these new
world explorers that you choose are paradoxes. Include and go beyond
the unit’s principles. So, in other words, you’re going
to have to figure out whether they did take risk, had success
and failure, create both cost and benefits. Those are kind of
paradoxical, but they can happen at the same time. But you’re going to have to
find some more ways these guys were paradoxical.” If you thought version one
was fairly robust, of course, version two is going to blow
version one out of the water. This, to me, is a good
example of “teaching up”. This teacher created
version two first. This would be very challenging
to most kids that I taught for 20 years at that age. Even the very most advanced
kids would have to do a fair amount of chewing. I think this would certainly be
challenging for them, hopefully not so far in front
of them they can’t do anything, but challenging. Am I going to only give
this second task to kids identified as gifted? Absolutely not. I’ve got some kids identified as
gifted who are going to do much better on version one, and I
might have some kids that have learning disabilities who have
a devil of a time reading and writing, who would really
benefit from the stretch in version two. So then, I can just modify the
way that kid uses the materials. So, I’m not talking about
gifted and not gifted. I’m talking about who can really
fly off the [unclear] and who needs to do some work that’s
going to really cause them to struggle and stretch and
accomplish pretty nearly the same thing, just not quite
as complex as the other one. So, in other words, she created
version two first, and then she scaffolded it so more
kids could accomplish it. How did she do that? Instead of just saying, “Find
some defensible and reliable research,” she gave them a
list of resources to use. Instead of just saying to them,
“Figure out how you’re going to show what you know,” she gave
them directions for three separate product options and
let them propose another one. She delineated the goals for
version one, and the second group of kids are going
to have to refer to something else to get them. And she’s talking in version two
in much more advanced language, in terms of paradoxes
and human behavior. So, she scaffolded version one,
but the kids who are going to do that are still going to end
up in pretty much the same place as version two. So, what if you have some kids
in your class for whom version one is going to be
way out of their zone of proximal development? Then what? Well, there are tons
of things you can do to further scaffold it. For example, instead of saying,
“Here’s a list of resources,” I can have a couple of tables
where I put boxes with resources in them that I know are readable
and usable for those kids, including some audio ones
or some internet ones. I can have kids meet in startup
groups with me to work on their plan for how they’re going to go
and lay it out step-by-step and go from there. I can let some kids do both
reading and writing in their first language, as they get the
stuff under their belt, before I ask them then to put
it into English for me. I can use brainstorming groups
or think tank groups, so that kids can work
collegially on things. I can provide graphic organizers
that guide them step-by-step through the process. I can give some kids the
directions one step at a time, and they do much better. I can have some kids check in
with me after every step to make sure that they’re okay. I can have kids do a
timeline checklist. I could write the directions
with more basic vocabulary, or give them annotated vocabulary. I could write the directions
in more bulleted form, with more white space. I could provide a model that’s
fair and not particularly glitzy, but accurate at a fairly
foundational level, so kids could see what the
thing might look like. I could provide a summary
of ideas in the kid’s first language to support
their comprehension. I could provide a
list of key vocabulary with clearer explanation. I could use experts of the
day to answer their questions. My point is that if you can
create a task that really is robust enough for advanced
learners, there are lots of ways to open that up to
access for other kids. And, to me, that notion of
“teaching up,” starting with something really robust, and
enabling other kids to make the climb, is going to get us much,
much further than creating in the middle and trying to pump
it up and pump it down, which is often the case. And, we have some very strong
examples of schools where teachers have learned to teach
up, and have differentiated in that way, and the achievement
gains are exactly what your common sense would tell you they
should be and what we would hope that they would be. So, that’s my first example,
differentiation by readiness. Group one is at a different
starting point than group two, and the teacher, instead of
saying, “Well, let me give group one words to practice, or just
get them to do information about the explorers,” has insisted
that they also think about this on a more abstract level,
but with more support and more scaffolding. So, I want to show you now
a kindergarten lesson that a teacher did based on student
readiness, and it’s an early in the year, about this time
of year actually, lesson on classification and patterns. And, as is the case in
kindergarten, they’re going to work with classifications
and patterns all year long. But this one little example,
again, shows a teacher who, in a very quick lesson, has made
some differences in the task for kids’ readiness levels, in a
way that support their success. Again, what she wants the kids
to know is the names of basic shapes, sizes, bigger than, less
than, colors, what it means to have a pattern, what kinds of
patterns are, how to classify, what classify means, and
what a category means. The understandings are
written at a younger level. We can classify things by their
shapes, sizes, and colors. Things can be made smaller
or bigger than other things. Patterns can help with
classifying things, and I can explain why I classify
things in a certain way. And what she wants them to be
able to do is identify basic shapes, basic colors, identify
larger than and smaller than, classify according to size,
color, shape, identify and explain patterns and explain
reasons for classification. This is not all
new in this lesson. This is stuff they’ve been
working on for the last month, and stuff they’re going to
continue to work on for quite some time during the year, but
this lesson falls within this set of what we call KUDs, what
kids should Know, Understand, and be able to Do. So, here’s what she did. One afternoon, not too long
before the kids were going home, she had them go out
to do a nature’s walk. And they had been talking about
fall, about autumn, and she asked the kids to gather data
on what they were seeing that seemed to them like evidence
that fall was there. And so, she gave them little
carpenter’s aprons that had three pockets in them,
and every kid put on their carpenter’s apron. And when they want on the walk,
they gathered data that they saw – acorns falling down, leaves
that were down, dead flowers, sticks, whatever –
and they put them in their little apron pockets. And then, they went back into
the room, and she had them analyze their data. And so, just as a whole class,
she would say, “Well, Elizabeth has a rock here. Anybody have anything that’s
kind of like Elizabeth’s rock?” And some kids might
bring rocks over. She’d say, “Does anybody else
have anything that’s kind of like Elizabeth’s rock, even
though it’s not a rock?” And so, somebody might say, “I
have something round, and her rock is round.” She’s just working with them in
a very general way to talk to them about thinking
about what they have. When they went home, she
gathered the data herself from the table tops, and was
pulling from that just leaves. And so, she had a task for them
to do early the next day, and at every desk there
were some leaves. And there were three different
things that kids could do with those leaves, depending on
their readiness levels, again. Some of the kids she asked to
classify leaves by their size and by their color, so big
leaves, little leaves, red leaves, green leaves, and
she gave them a grid that had categories on it where they
could put their leaves to show this is a big leaf, this is
a red leaf, and so forth. Some kids were asked to classify
leaves by shape and to create a category, and she gave them a
sample grid, which they could use if they wanted to, but they
could also find a different way to show the patterns that
they were coming up with if they wanted to. And some kids were asked to find
three ways to classify every leaf, other than color, and
their job was to find a way to show what configurations,
what classifications they came up with. Every kid was working
with the leaves. Every kid was working with
their idea that science is classified by patterns. Every student is going to be
working with the K’s and the U’s and the D’s. She moved among the students to
talk with them about how they were classifying things and
how they could explain their thinking, to make notes if she
saw students that were having misunderstandings about what
was going on and so forth. But what you really have here
is three classification tasks. Classifying by size and by color
is obviously more familiar to many kids than trying to
classify a leaf by a shape, and by then coming up
with the category. And when you eliminate color as
a category, and then ask kids to find three ways to classify a
leaf, they’re clearly having to push the boundaries
a little bit more. But, in each case, she’s asking
the kids to make classifications to show the patterns that
they’re finding, and to be able to explain what they’re doing. So, again, an example of
differentiation by readiness, rather than having everybody do
task one, when you’ve got lots of kids who will be really
challenged by task three, and whose time would be totally
wasted if they were doing task number one. Not terribly
difficult to pull off. Pretty useful. So, this next one is an
example of an interest-based differentiation, not so much
readiness, but what’s your preference here in terms of
things to learn about how to approach things. So, the lesson is focused on
some Common Core standards that deal with development of theme,
understanding text, and using text evidence to
support a position. And she asked the student to
choose a person of interest, from a sphere of interest,
to do an inquiry on. So, if you love sports, you can
choose a person from sports. If you’re a great science
fiction reader, you can choose a science fiction author. If you really love stock car
racing, you can choose somebody who’s a dynamite
stock car racer. A person of interest from
a sphere of interest. And then, all of the kids have
to use fiction, non-fiction, print, video, music, art, not
all of those things, but they have to use multiple
sources in their inquiries. So, they could use newscast. They could use blogs. They could use photographs. And their goal, because this is
focused on the notion of theme and literature, is to propose
themes that represent the life and work of the person that they
chose in a way that represents what’s important
in that discipline. So, you wouldn’t end up saying,
for a famous athlete, for example, he has a
collection of bicycles. End of story. You’re going to have to tell
us what it is in his life that propels him to be
a greater athlete. What is it that matters
in athletics that he really represents? So, what theme do you
see in this person that’s representative of something
important in the discipline where that person is? They had to do a theme-based
interview, as though they were interviewing the person, but
finding data from different sources to comprise what
the answers would be. She showed them the website,
People of New York, and helped them understand how the captions
and the People of New York website sort of
distill a human message. And so, they had to do an image
of their person in a People of New York type way that, again,
gives sort of a theme statement for that person. They had to find a theme-based
quote, which could either be a quote from that person that
represents their theme, or a quote from some other famous
person that represents the life of this person. So, for example, you might have
Joe DiMaggio, and a quote that you found might be one from
Robert Frost, who explains something that was important
about Joe DiMaggio, although he wasn’t talking about
Joe DiMaggio, of course. And then, they had to do a
product, or an idea for a product, that their person
might have used, based on the discipline in which
that person worked. So, what would be a terrific art
pencil that this person would have benefited from using in
some way if somebody created a pencil that would have really
pushed forward this person’s work in art? One of the most important things
that they did was to keep a process log that recorded their
work, preliminary themes that came up, and what evidence
was leading them to those. Final themes that they developed
for their person with supporting evidence for why they now think
those are the best themes, or that’s the best theme they
could come up with, and their rationale for distilling
it to that point. And, an annotation of the final
product, which will be the performance assessment, and how
they feel like they did on that. This is a long-term piece
of work that students did throughout a considerable period
of a year, and the kids kept going back to it. The teacher kept going back
to it as they would look at different Common Core standards. So, this is a hefty one. This is a long-term
piece of work. Here, she can vary resources,
based on readability. The kids can certainly make
choices about product formats that are learning profile based. She can do scaffolding, like
providing graphic organizers or resources for kids who
need some help with that. So, there are ways to deal with
it in terms of readiness, but what she really has done here is
create an interest-based task. And, it’s kind of interesting
when you see that, because the kids really were very devoted
to these people that they chose. They frequently did work
that was pretty surprising. They were willing to keep at
it and go at it, because they wanted to know more about
this musician, and so forth. So, an example of a middle
school interest-based task. And again, I want to remind you,
there are a thousand things you can do that are much less
sophisticated than these examples I’m showing you
that really benefit kids. I just want to show you some
reasonably robust examples of what this might look like
after teachers have worked with it for a while. So, this last one I want to
share with you is kind of an interesting one. This is learning profile, again,
and this means how you take in and process information. And, the work of Howard Gardner
I think has been instructive for lots of folks in helping us
understand, or at least be more aware of, the fact that many
people bring a whole range of talents to a process with them. And that if we look only
narrowly at what we think counts, a lot of the
world is left out. And so, we’ve often seen
Gardner’s multiple intelligences translated into a class. What’s a kinesthetic approach
to this particular task? What’s a
verbal/linguistic approach? And so forth. This particular high school
class is working with another piece of Gardner’s work
that he calls “entry point.” It’s related to his work on
multiple intelligences, but slightly different. And he says that if we can enter
a study, whether it’s at the beginning, or enter it in
greater depth later in the study, through a pathway that
feels natural and exciting to us, that, once again, we’re
much more likely to dig deeper. And so, he proposes that there
are always at least five entry points that a teacher could use,
or that a person himself could use, in developing an inquiry. We could approach something
through a narrational entry point, stories and
words, or through a logical/quantitative one. How would we study
this study through number and with measurement? Or, we can look at
it foundationally. What’s the philosophy, the
background, the rationale, the root system, the history
of this particular thing? Or, we can look at
it aesthetically. How would we translate this
thing into music, into smell, into sound, into movement? Or, we can study
it experientially. How has this
happened in my life? How has it happened in
the life of other people? And so, the teacher that I’m
going to show you in this high school class chose to have his
students study this particular topic, to introduce this
particular topic in history, through a multiple
entry points avenue. So, the kids are getting ready
to study the Middle Ages in high school world history. Even the 1920s seems like a long
time ago to high school kids, of course, and the Middle
Ages is awfully hard to really wrap around. What is it that’s
actually going on there? Why is life as it is there? And, in his head, if the kids
could really understand a cathedral – what it was like to
build a cathedral back then, why people would have built it, the
kind of technology that might have been there, the place that
it played in their lives, the symbolism in the cathedral and
why that spoke to the times – they would not only understand
and appreciate a cathedral better, but the cathedral
becomes a symbol for this time in history. And so, some kids chose to study
cathedrals through novels and stories build around cathedrals. A lot of Madeleine L’Engle’s
work is built there. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or
any number of actual novels and stories, whether for young
people or adults, that are built around cathedrals. What can you learn
through stories about how a cathedral is? If you’re more interested in the
logical/quantitative stuff, how did the cathedral get built? What kind of
engineering did they use? What sorts of tools do we
have now that they didn’t use? How long did it
take to build these? How can somebody build these
things without the kind of tools we’re used to having? What does it mean to
engineer a cathedral? Some other kids looked at
symbolisms in cathedrals. Why are they built in the
shape that they’re built in? What does a rose window
in a cathedral mean? Why do people sit in different
places in a cathedral? What’s the architecture of the
front of the cathedral, and why is it built like it is? And some other kids chose to
do work on what he called “your cathedral,” and that’s the place
that centers you, the place that helps you understand yourself
best, the place the gives you energy to go
forward in the world. It could be the tree
house in your backyard. It could be cooking with your
granddad when he’s outside cooking fish, whatever. What’s your cathedral? What’s the place for you that’s
going to play the role in your life that the cathedral might
have played in the Middle Ages? Once again, these are choices
based on what Gardner would call “intelligence preferences.” And look at a class like this. The kids had the assignment for
a while, worked on it while some other stuff was going on in
class that helped them get some background, but amazing how many
contributions the kids made to class, how many good questions
they were asking, what a great way it was for him to get them
to engage in discussion and trust one another as a community
and share materials, and that kind of thing. So, this is an example of an
introductory task which, again, started fairly near the
beginning of a unit on the Middle Ages in world history,
and kept on for a while, with kids working on it largely out
of class and when they had some spare time in class, but feeding
a great deal of what went on. Not so much based on their
readiness, not so much necessarily based on an interest
they have, but really a mode of exploration, a mode of taking
in and processing information, a how-you-learn kind of thing. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Carol? CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Yes. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: We’re
dangerously close to our ending time. We did not get through several
slides, and I want to make sure that…I think that time was
well spent, and I’m hoping that folks really appreciated
those examples. I know I did like hearing
those and hearing the realm of examples and ways that you have
seen this work in classrooms. So, I think that those who are
in the classroom and those who are working with teachers can
really take that back and look at how they can
apply those lessons. What I do want to spend just a
minute or two on is having you give us the highlights of
leadership and how influential leadership can be on this topic
of differentiation and making it real in schools for us. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Okay. So, I think, if it’s okay,
Elizabeth, I’ll do that, just not so much with trying to go
through slides, but just sort of summarizing what a number
of them would say, and then referring folks to them
as a resource that’s here. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Absolutely. Folks should know that
there’s a lot of information on the slides. That’s what I was going to
say is that you have access to all of this. So, I think just the high level
now, and then our audience can go in and look at the
details on the slides. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON: Leaders who
help teachers be more responsive in their teaching really see
differentiation not as a frill, but as central to
effective teaching. I think it’s important for a
leader not necessarily to run in and create a differentiated
lesson plan on the spot in some teacher’s room and model it
tomorrow, but to understand those five elements that Adam
was talking about, and that we looked at a couple of times
early in the session, and to understand the fundamental
nature of those in classrooms, and to be ready to work
with teachers on creating environments, and what quality
curriculum looks like, and what some things are we can do to
formatively assess students and respond to the data that we get. It’s critically important
for leaders to help teachers understand that improving our
responsiveness to students is not something that we do in an
afternoon staff development. It’s something that is an
ongoing process in which teachers ought to have voice. “I think this is my next step. This is something I’m
really invested in doing.” In the slides that we’re not
going to look at now, for those of you who are leaders, there
are some lists of at least a good starting point of what
teachers need to know, what they need to understand, and what
they need to be able to do in order to grow
effectively and systematically in differentiation. In other words, I’m going to
suggest that leaders need to know the KUDs of
differentiation, just like good teachers need to know the
KUDs of this math unit. I think a good leader helps
teachers understand a rationale for doing something
when it’s going to be complex and demanding. And so, having a vision for
differentiation, why would we do this, is sort of the equivalent
of a teacher having a vision for a classroom in which people
collaborate to benefit the growth of all of them. If you just say to kids, “Okay. We’re going to do this now. Go move the material here, do
this,” kids are confused and can’t figure it out. That doesn’t make sense. But in the context of a vision
for every student’s growth, kids can get pretty excited, no
matter their age, about being a part of making that work. So, a great leader
provides a vision. I think there is then a sense of
being able to say what a teacher would say. “I have a year,” or, “I have two
years, three years, five years, that we’re going
to grow with this. And so I’m going to come up with
a systematic plan, a big picture of where we’d like to be, in
a year, two years, three years with this.” And then a subset of plans. What are we going
to work on first? What are we going
to work on second? What are we going
to work on third? The principals that I see
who make a big difference in differentiation are in teachers’
classes a lot, not to judge them and not to evaluate them, but
to engage in conversations which help both of them grow, and help
the understanding develop while the idea stays in
the foreground. One of the most important things
that I would commend to a leader in a school is that this is the
perfect opportunity to model for your teachers what you want
them to do in a classroom. If you go back to the five
principles Adam had, what kind of learning environment will
encourage your teachers to come every day and continue to grow? What are the KUDs that you
have for the curriculum for your teachers? And what will you do to make
it engaging and to promote understanding with it? How will you formatively assess
teachers, not to give them a grade or to judge them, but to
help everybody talk about what the next steps are? What kinds of assessment of
teacher growth will you use, and how will you give feedback? When you see teachers struggling
with different things, how might you be able to arrange them in
subgroups to work together, or to do independent work, so that
they’re moving on from their own entry points, rather than
assuming that it all has to be whole faculty staff development? And, what will you do to help
the teachers want to work with you on that and to develop
routines of flexibility that still bring people
to the same place? The teachers that I hear who
have made the most progress talk very clearly about the fact that
their leaders’ behavior actually helped them to understand the
benefit of differentiation, because as they could see the
leaders work with them in ways that were useful, they began to
understand that doing that for their students would make
a difference as well. So, in the materials that are
here, you’ll see if you’re a leader a number of documents
that are here, not because I ever intended to talk through
all of them, but to say these are resources to inform
your thinking some. And, as the folks on Car Talk
would say, this next thing I’m going to show you is
from the shameless commerce division here. But if any of you have an
interest in reading something about leading for
differentiation, my friend, Mike Murphy, who is an expert on
change in schools, and I have just – will in about a week –
see a book come off the press at ASCD (Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development). It’s called Leading
for Differentiation. Comes out on September 25th, and
what it really talks about is how we apply what we know about
leaders who encourage change in school to change
for differentiation. So, if you have an interest
there, that also might be a good resource for you to look at. I think my final point – I might
just as well go back here to do – differentiation is just an
approach to teaching that says we really kind of have to try to
do what works for kids, not just what works for us. It isn’t an extra thing. It’s high quality teaching. If you look, for example, at
Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, her expert
teaching column is full of the language of differentiation. There’s plenty of support for
differentiation in terms of research,
demographics, and ethics. If we’re going to learn to
differentiate, we have to have some intent to do it. We need intelligent support, we
need actionable feedback, and we need time. And, that does not
happen on a broad scale. There will always be some
teachers who figure out something and go forward on
their own, but we don’t find broad scale change in any
meaningful thing in schools without informed
principal leadership. Principal leadership
is massively important. So, thank you for
sticking with us today. That’s maybe more about toad
frogs than you had in mind for one afternoon. It’s a complicated topic, and if
you picked up one or two ideas, even from your very first
parking lot entries, to go back and think a little bit
about more, that’ll push you further forward. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: Carol, I
know we could spend another two hours with you. Of course, we didn’t get through
everything, but I think we got through a lot of
the important points. And, I know that if folks want
to reach out to you, I’m going to put up your
contact information. You would be glad to probably
respond to their questions. Let me see if I can get to that. There it is. If folks have general questions
about the REL webinar series, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to answer. We’ll put up the materials,
like I said earlier. You’ll get an email with that,
and we’ll ask you to send it to others who you think might be –
benefit from that information. If they want to see the webinar,
if you want to take a look at the FAQ document with the
answers to your questions, all of the resources that
are included today will be listed there. So, we’re past time. Thank you all for
staying with us. We’re going to do two last
minute things, for those who have a few extra
minutes to spend. We will put up this last poll,
because we’d like to hear from you about your key takeaways,
and some of the action steps that you might want to take as
you go back to your context, your schools, your districts,
and the work that you do. And, we will also encourage you
to come to our next webinar, which will be in two weeks from
today, the topic of mathematics and the Common Core, what
effective teaching looks like in math in this Common Core era. So, at this time, as you
continue to type, I would like to just do a virtual round of
applause for Carol and the time she spent with us, really
diving into this topic. I know I appreciate it, and I
hope that all of you do, too. So, thank you so much, Carol. CAROL ANN TOMLINSON:
My pleasure. ELIZABETH GRENINGER: And, if you
do have additional questions, please just post them
in the parking lot. We’ll be here for a few minutes,
and we’ll make sure that…Carol won’t respond to them now, but
we’ll make sure that we get those and do our best to put
those in our FAQ document for you to check in with later. We also encourage you to take
the evaluation so you can help us improve the series, make
sure we are meeting your needs. It’s always helpful for us
to know what topics you’re interested in hearing about
that we haven’t addressed yet. And, as we plan for our future
webinars, we like to take that information into consideration. Alright. We’ll leave the room open for just
a little bit longer, but we thank you all for attending. We hope you have a great
afternoon and evening, and we hope to see you back
for our next webinar.

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