Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Differentiation in Kindergarten

One of my favorite things to do is read. Each summer, I usually have a stack of books by my bed to read. While some of these are novels (I love historical romance books), many of them are professional development books. Summer is such a great time to think about how you can do things differently next year.

On the way to Disney, I started reading Differentiating Instruction in Kindergarten by Cindy Middendorf. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of differentiating instruction or if you are new to kindergarten, this is the book for you. This book would also be very beneficial for pre-K and first grade teachers as many of the ideas presented would easily span the grades.

The book began with a discussion on the difference between learning modalities and intelligence. A modality of learning is a way in which we process and understand information.  There are four main ways (or modalities) that we process information:  visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. The author made a point that the kinesthetic and tactile modalities overlap. The main difference between these two is that strictly tactile learners need hands-on learning.  Truly kinesthetic learners want their whole body in motion. As a teacher, we must provide opportunities for all learners through all modalities. However, providing every child opportunities to learn through all avenues enriches each child’s learning experience. One point that the author made that I spent a lot of time reflecting over was that most teachers present materials in way that makes sense to us and our own personal learning modality. In doing so, we can shortchange our students. My personal goal this year is to better differentiate my instruction time to include all learning modalities. So am I going to stress on finding each child’s strongest modality for learning? Nope. Instead of asking, “What is this child’s strongest modality for learning?” my question will be “Am I incorporating a wide range of activities to serve all learning modalities?” This will provide very learner an opportunity to learn with their strongest modality but also experience learning through the other avenues.  The author, Cindy Middendorf, had some ideas for engaging all types of learners. I’ve listed this list below.  

Ways to engage visual learners
·      Use highlighting tape in text
·      Make reference to posters and visuals in the room
·      Point to the map or anchor chart when referencing it
·      Show video clips
·      Diagram a story
·      Use expressive body language
·      Point out details in photos, illustrations, and books
·      Display word walls for themes and units, sights words, and names

Ways to engage auditory learners
·      Read aloud often
·      Provide students with listening center opportunities (tape/cd player, iPads and iPods)
·      Teach rhymes for making numbers and letters
·      Sing to learn skills
·      Vary pitch and tone of voice when teaching
·      Encourage retelling
·      Provide Reader’s Theater experiences
·      Provide puppets for your students- what a great retelling opportunity
·      Demonstrate use of phonics phones

Ways to engage kinesthetic and tactile learners
·      Model role-playing and acting it out
·      Use gross motor activities to reinforce concepts
·      Plan for students to participate in experiments and demonstrations
·      Provide props for story retelling
·      Encourage standing when answering questions
·      Practice writing in cornmeal, sand, salt, and pudding
·      Make music, rhythm, and keeping the beat
·      Supply clay and white boards

An intelligence is a talent or strength. These help us demonstrate our understanding of the world and organize the information from our senses. While I know each of us had to study these in college, I am listing them below as a reference. The multiple intelligences are
1.      Verbal-Linguistic
2.     Bodily-Kinesthetic
3.     Logical-Mathematic
4.     Intrapersonal
5.     Interpersonal
6.     Visual-Spatial
7.     Musical
8.     Naturalist
In a traditional classroom, children who are verbal-linguistic or logical-mathematic have the greatest advantage. So how can we use this knowledge to give every child and every intelligence an advantage?

As the book continued, Cindy Middendorf listed assessment tools, management strategist, and multi-leveled center ideas and activities to help any teacher differentiate. I highly recommend this book to all early childhood teachers. It was an easy but informative read.

So, how do you differentiate learning in your classroom?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Long Time, No Blog… and July Currently

My plan to blog every week about the comings and goings in my kindergarten class last year was an EPIC FAIL!!! Being a first year kindergarten teacher coming out of second and third grade I became very very overwhelmed trying to be the best kindergarten teacher I could be. I am so thankful for blogs like Kindergals, First Grade Parade, Mrs. Jump's, and Mrs. Will's kindergarten . They were such wonderful resources! I was very blessed to meet Kim Adsit at the Destination Common Core workshop in November. Those two days changed my teaching career. She had so many amazing ideas and I couldn't wait to head back into my classroom. Going forward, I am planning to blog more often. Learning from other teachers was such an incredible resource and I want to share all the wonderful things my minders are doing each week. 

So what is going on in the Davis household…

Listening:  I LOVE Civil War movies. Gone With the Wind and the North and South trilogy are my favorites. We even honeymooned in Charleston because of the Civil War history. I'm watching the last episode while I work on a new until vocabulary wall for my kinders.

Loving:  Being a mommy is the delight of my life. I absolutely love my two kiddos. Having my summer with them is wonderful. I look forward to my morning snuggles each day. My son will be coming to kindergarten next year. I am so sad. My daughter is two and is a sassy girl! She makes us laugh all the time.

Thinking:  Each day my to do list gets bigger and bigger. Do we really only have a few weeks left before post planning? I will be heading to my school to set up my classroom soon (maybe next week). YIKES!

Wanting:  My husband and I are huge Disney fans. We love Mickey Mouse and so do our kiddos. Last week we took our kiddos to Orlando for a week. It was so much fun. Caroline was definitely one of those kiddos who photo bombed other people pictures if a character was near. I am also really wanting to go to Vegas for the I teach K conference. Maybe next year...

Needing:  We just moved in March into our dream home (yet another reason blogging was put on a back burner). We still have boxes to unpack in our basement. 

4th Plans:  The mister has to work this year on the 4th- he is a Fire Fighter. We are taking the kids on Thursday to see the fireworks near Atlanta. On Friday, I think we are going to eat Mickey waffles and watch a movie. 

I hope you are your families have a wonderful 4th. I'll be back soon with some neat things I am working on in my classroom.