P2 – Practice differentiated instruction.
Learners are not going to pay attention to a lesson that is boring, and it must have some relevance to their experience. I have been trying to remember what it was like to be a child so that I can truly design and perform lessons in a way my students can relate to. Also, I have been working on learning the individual learning goals that my students have, and acknowledging student’s efforts as they work toward their goals. Acknowledgement of small victories on a daily basis is more important, in my opinion, than focusing on a long-term goal when working to fortify self-efficacy for children. Rather than saying to an emergent reader, “you will learn how to read”, saying, “Hey, you learned how to read three sight words this week: that, then, and of. Now I see you using them in your How-To story!” reflects tangible efforts that can be built on.
Last week I designed and taught a reading lesson that started off with the hook of having the K/1 students listen to me reread a story called I Don’t Like To Read! by Nancy Carlson. Our class knows this book and author well. As a reinforcement, I read the story during snack time a couple of days prior to teaching the lesson. So when the students saw the book projected onto the big screen, they were hooked. Before I read the story I told the class that we were going to thinking of a way that the story reminds us of our own lives. I told them that when we learn to see how are problems can be the same as characters in a story, we can read books to help us solve our problems. I talked about how the main character in I Don’t Like To Read has a razzle frazzle (we use the expressions “razzle frazzle” and “razzle dazzle” to describe our challenges and strengths) of feeling like they will never learn how to read. As I read the story again the kids were excitedly relating to the main character’s experience. Then, I shared that I used to be afraid of talking in front of people, that is my razzle frazzle. The kids were excited to share their razzle frazzle stories, but I wanted to get them moving to another activity before I lost their attention. Next, I showed the class how they can share their razzle frazzle story in a drawing. I had prepared a two-frame drawing of my personal experience in the first frame, and what strategy I used to overcome my razzle frazzle in the second frame. I circulated around the room and talked with each student as they worked on their drawings. They showed me that they connected meaningfully to the lesson through their enthusiastic responses as they worked. Many of the students at the tables had spontaneous connections and conversations with one another about common razzle frazzles they had faced, such as learning how to swim or riding in an airplane for the first time.
The students felt motivated to share their personal stories through making a connection with a relatable character in a book. In addition, my personal story created a feeling of trust that enabled me to hear their voices. I think this lesson was an effective differentiated learning experience because all the children could connect on the common ground of feeling like you are not “good” at something. Also, all of our class members can draw, read pictures, and contribute to group conversation. However, the children who were wanting to extend the lesson had the option to add words to their drawing. And the children who do not have much word recognition yet were able to follow the pictures and words in the story as I enlarged it through the projector. Overall, the lesson was meaningful, provided multiple sensory mediums, and kept the children engaged.