Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anchor Activities

The purpose of an Anchor Activity is to provide meaningful work for students when they finish early, are waiting for further directions, are stumped, first enter class, or when the teacher is working with other students. In other words, students are anchored to an activity which is is usually a logical extension of learning during a unit  Students must be well versed in the ground rules of working independently. The teacher must make adequate preparations so students are clear about the task and the instructions for completing it. The teacher should have a plan for monitoring and managing the activity.  

Examples of anchoring activities may include the following:
  • Independent reading
  • Content-related reading
  • Journal Writing
  • Creative writing prompts (introduce children to fun poetry forms and then make this a choice)
  • On-going independent projects
  • Working on a Portfolio
  • Working on a Learning Packet or Task Card
  • Working at a Learning or Interest Center
  • Practicing skills related to content students learned in their small group lessons
  • Working on an Extension Menu or Cubing activity
  • Word games or puzzles
  • Math facts games and practice
  • Art projects
  • Small group projects

Benefits of an Anchor Activity
  1. can be used to differentiate activities on the basis of student readiness, interest or
learning profile
  1. allows students time to work on independent research, to work more in depth with a
concept, or enrich their skill development

  1. can be used as a management strategy when working with small groups of students
  2. can be a vehicle for making the classroom more student centered

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tiered Assignments

Tiered Assignments Defined...
a readiness-based approach designed to help all learners work with the same essential information, ideas, and skills, yet still be challenged at varying levels on which they are individually capable of working

Criteria for Effective Tiering
  • All tasks are focused on the same essential information, concepts, and skills
  • All tasks require a high level of thinking
  • All tasks are equally engaging
  • In order to form groups, think in terms of whether students are “lower readiness,” “middle readiness,”  or “higher readiness”  relative to their achievement and ability in the content or skill.
  • Optimally, a tiered task is neither too simple so that it leads to boredom nor too difficult so that it results in frustration.

How to Tier an Assignment...

  • Decide on the skill or information to be practiced or learned.
  • Develop at least three different activities or variations of the same activity.
  • Decide on the complexity of the skill for each group. Be sure to promote higher level thinking in each group.
  • Divide students into two, three or four groups based on readiness for the material, skills or concepts being taught.
  • Assign student groups using colors, shapes, numbers or titles.
  • Provide teacher support for each group.

An Economics Activity Designed for 4th Graders After Studying Supply and Demand

TSW apply the concept of supply and demand by creating or analyzing a scenario.

Lead a review discussion on supply and demand, asking students to define each. Explain that students will do three different activities today.

Lower Readiness-The news reports that a category 8 hurricane in Florida destroys a lot of oranges. Show in pictures and words what would happen to prices. What other products besides oranges would be affected and how?

Middle Readiness-A new scientific study has determined that 3 servings of donuts will decrease heart disease. Explain in writing what will happen to the price of donuts and why. Describe what other effects could this have. You may use illustrations or diagrams as well.

Higher Readiness-Create a news story that illustrates increase in supply or demand.

Have students come back together and report on their scenarios.

Friday, January 20, 2017

RAFT Method

  • students assume a Role
  • students consider an  Audience
  • students communicate in a particular Format
  • students consider a given Topic

How is RAFT a differentiation tool?
  • They can be based on student readiness, learning style or interest.
  • They may even be student created!
  • They can provide varying levels of difficulty to accommodate all learners while using the same content.
  • They allow for student choice.

How do I do it?
  • Select a unit you’ll be teaching shortly.
  • Determine the learning goals you want students to achieve. Think "KUD!" What do students need to know/already know? What do they need to understand? What should they be able to do?
  • Choose whether to:
  • Concentrate on reviewing key information such as people, dates, vocabulary, etc. in the Role and Audience, and then let Format and Topics be based on student interests.
  • Concentrate on a skill, and incorporate that skill in either the Format or the Topic. That allows the students to engage by varying the role and audience.
  • Concentrate on the big idea, the understanding, in the Topic.
  • Try to have some easier and some harder RAFTs and assign them to students to provide appropriate challenge levels.
  • Allow students to choose from a list of R’s, A’s, F’s and T’s to give them learning style and interest preferences.
  • Develop one or two RAFT strips that would lead students to the understanding you plan for them to accomplish.
  • Practice learning "RAFT" by doing one together as a class so that students understand each word in the acronym.
  • A RAFT may have 5-8 strips once students have practice with them.

Number the Stars
Character RAFT
Your classmates
10 riddles
Can you guess the character from NTS?
Dinner party host/hostess
Dinner party guests
Seating chart
Where you are all sitting and WHY
Soundtrack creator
Record company executive
Top 10 Song List
If this character’s life were a movie, here’s the soundtrack and WHY
The Public
Wanted poster with “photo” and description
Who this character is, why he/she is wanted, and how to track him/her down

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fast Finishers

Everyone has more content to teach than minutes in the day... I hear that from most of you! So, isn’t it crazy when you see a student finished and doing absolutely nothing or worse yet, beginning to disturb others?
What’s a teacher to do? That’s where a little planning for Fast Finishers comes in. It will be well worth the investment of time.
  • Instill in students that there is ALWAYS something to be discovered, created, practiced or learned.
  • Start with 3-5 activities for the week.

  • You may wish to develop a packet for each student (I only recommend this is you have only 1-5 consistent fast finishers), but I suggest creating a folder for each different activity and make theses available in one place in the room.
  • Place multiple copies in the folder if the activity is consumable along with directions and any materials needed to complete the activity.
  • Activities should be individual and quiet.
  • Consider going over the activities and directions at the beginning of the week.
  • You may wish to have students put completed activities in a separate folder.
  • You can consider whether you want to award extra credit for these assignments or not. Better yet, let students keep track on an individual card or chart of how many they complete.
  • If they chart their activities and keep it in a folder, then you have it available to show parents at conference time.
  • If a parent says their child is bored, then you having enriching activities available and can show the parent.
  • Having a wide variety of different independent work available helps to ensure that students are optimizing their learning opportunities through the day.
  • These do not always need to be worksheets!
  • Because not all students are fast finishers, you may periodically schedule time in your  plans for all students to work on their independent enrichment activities.
  • While students should enjoy these activities, they need to know that you expect regular work to be completed with quality, so they do not rush through other assignments to get to these.
  • Training students how to do this is key. They must learn the routine of knowing where to get the activity and materials; where to turn it in; and how to do it.