Real Differentiation! Finally…


I had an education professor at UNO that told us a class should pretty much run itself.  He said by the end of the semester, there would be at least one occasion where he would not even show up, and yet our class would go on without him.

It did.  We were working on short lessons and presenting them to each other to get feedback.  He never showed, so we started without him and everyone stayed the entire time.

Today I came into class and basically said “You know what you need to work on, let’s get to work!” and it happened.  Here’s why I think it worked:

1.) They were all very aware of exactly what skills they need to work on.  I use standards based grading and report their scores with ActiveGrade.  When they login, each student gets a report that looks like this:


2.) They are accustomed to getting help from outside sources.  I have been getting better at providing good resources for my students this year.  My newest adventure has been in using Edcanvas.  It  is super easy to use for teachers and for students, and it tracks views (and emails you a daily digest if you want).  Here’s one of mine (click it if you want to see how it works):

Edcanvas pic

3.) They are accustomed to getting help from each other. Since I teach using modeling in physics (and try to in algebra as well), the students are used to not really getting answers from me (hence the “Never” tagline of this blog) 😉 so they have gotten much better at learning from each other.  They are getting way better at spotting when someone has a skill that they do not, and asking that student for assistance.

BTW Even though it was awesome (!!), we didn’t use the whole class period for this “extra practice” session.  The second half of class was used to work through this handout (which you can see in the Edcanvas as well):

The awesomest thing was how I had never used the term “zeroes” before and they already knew what I was talking about!  I also love how it really ties everything together nicely.  I got a lot of “ooohhhh, now I see why we did that” out of it.  The thing that it is missing is a real, quality application to real life.  Any suggestions??

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