We had a 1/2 day PD session last Friday as the semester ended. The first part of the PD was spent sharing in our 7-12 Social Studies Department a differentiated assignment we used in class and examples of student work.
The high school shared a political cartoon assignment they used in American History. I shared the Rome Government assignment that Travis and I created this fall. The link to the original assignment is here. This assignment was based on "I can" statements--along the lines of Standard Based Grading.
This lesson plan was clearly differentiated in process and product. The key ideas/concepts are the same, no matter what student's did to complete the work. They needed to be able to answer those I can statements to show mastery. This process allowed advanced kids to "Fly" while others were able to learn the important concepts that tie our government to Rome's Republic.
However, Travis and I had some issues with this plan and have started to redo it for next year.
1. We reordered the assignment (Zaption first with key ideas presented, followed by a mini lecture in Bailboard between Travis and I) This should set the stage more clearly for student's.
2. Break up the vocabulary. We had all concepts, people, and ideas in one list for both societies--to confusing. We broke that down. See the Concepts are important not the names of people from 2000 years ago. They need to see the concepts in our world today. Then they can begin to see connections between Rome and American government.
3. Second we divide Rome from America. We want them to "See" the Roman Republic first, digest it and then move onto America--we were surprised how little then knew about our government. It seemed the first version had them going back and forth way to much and again was confusing to them.
4. We also are looking for visual ways to help them organize the information they are finding.
Overall, when you look at the examples, it is clear the student's learned the key ideas and showed mastery of the "I-Can" statements. But our directions and flow needed to be addressed, maybe a more universal design of the information.
Several student examples are below. I believe you can see that students had options on the final "visual" of their blog post--PRODUCT differentiation. These were posted on Dec. 18, the last day before winter break. Two weeks later on the first day back, I asked them to respond to the "I can" statements--results were very good.
*On a side note, see Eric Curts google drawing graphic organizers for help with vocabulary or concept development.
Just bookmark his site and keep reading. Best Google person in Ohio.
I did take away something important from her session: She explained how research shows that student's can only Learn (take into long term memory) 8 words a week! That is 8 total words in all classes. What are the key ideas you really want kids to learn and how could you and your team of teachers help students to put it in long term memory?