I LOVE LOVE LOVE this quote- it is so true!
Remember how much our implicit bias affects our actions- well, so does your open knowledge.
Students deserve fresh chances. Whether it be September, January, or May 1, students deserve an opportunity to show YOU who they are.
Today is the perfect day to shift your mindset about the kiddos that challenge you the most. Instead of thinking of some students as being challenging or behavioural problems RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN!
No matter what way you look at it- school is different now than when you went to school.
What worked 20, 30, 40 years in a traditional school setting will not always work in today's inclusive classrooms.
This frustrating fact is enough to drive you mad- BUT you cannot let it (easier said than done, I know). There are enough things to worry about in education, do not overthink the areas you have no control over.
I know our buildings are old, our resources are limited, sometimes schools are not accessible to all students, and I know inclusion can seem in contra to jurisdictional policies. I also have to chuckle when I read about a Board's inclusion policies and supports in the Special Education manual.
The systems and the processes in place are not always on the same journey or in the same place in the journey- this is consistent across many areas. HOWEVER, this does not matter to our students. Our students, all our students, still deserve to have a fair education that is appropriate, high quality, and allows them to grow in all facets of education.
Journal time is an awesome opportunity for ALL kiddos to express themselves.
Sometimes, I give a preassigned topic to my students. Other times, I give them free write.
However, the expectation remains clear: this is your voice and your message. As well, I keep a consistent framework to journals- especially in the early grades and early in the school year. Consistency supports understanding of expectations, understanding of demands, and student output.
The attached picture is a mash-up of three of journals- tier 1 (attending or emergent skills), tier 2 (simple sentences, writing 1-2 sentences), and tier 3 (3 plus sentences, working on description).
When I provide a preassigned journal topic, I allow for space to draw about the topic and then I provide the students with an open ended question or statement to write about. For example, if I am asking students to draw today's weather, I will then ask them to describe the clothing they may need to wear today. Another example is asking the students to draw something about school and to tell me, in writing, about their school day. Providing open ended topics allows students freedom to write, freedom to provide detail, & freedom to explore all while remaining focused on a topic.
Some students, especially students learning English as language (EAL), may chose to write their journal in their mother language and translate it during the subsequent journal session or sessions. Whereas other EAL students may chose to write less, but in English from the start. Either way is ok- journal is driven by the students: Remember, it is their voice and their message.
Students working at an emergent level, may use journal time to practice line strokes, create pictures with stickers or symbols, write or draw. Again, journal writing is a time for independence in expression. This is a fabulous time to create functional & independent academic routines for all your students.
I have a student or two, who use technology as their mode for writing. Voice-to-text is wonderful if you can provide a quiet-ish environment. Of course, I do not have the student use same journal template as the attached picture BUT using a consistent e-format is ideal to create and maintain consistency. If voice-to-text is not appropriate, just using a keyboard is great too! Remember creating functional routines and supporting 'written' voice is important in creating life long writers. In the past, I did have one student who was supported by an EPA/TA/paraprofessional- his journal looked very different: it was a 'selfie' video of this student demonstrating different actions or gestures that he could do independently when asked. It is okay to change the way a journal looks, especially if it means a kiddo can access this class routine with independence (appropriate to them). Think outside the box!
At this point in the year, journal writing happens almost every school day and lasts no longer than 15 minutes (start to finish). It is fast, it is consistent, and all my students can participate. Some students picked up the routine after day one, whereas others took longer to complete the routine with independence (appropriate to them). It is possible and it is important.
I LOVE watching how far each student has come- it is amazing to grab a journal from September or November and compare it to journals from this week. PROGRESS is easy to see.
Journal writing is a fabulous time to start routines that are inclusive of all students- and directed by you, the teacher!
Keep reading for 5 ideas on how you can start an inclusive journal time for any grade.
Parents you know your child better than anyone in this world.
Teachers you know each of your individual students as a learner and as part of a group of learners.
You both bring valuable expertise to the program planning process. Parents you need to advocate for your child. You need to ask the hard questions, you need to keep the BIG picture in mind (for your child), and you need to support their learning journey. Teachers you need to teach each student based on their unique individualities. You need to see beyond the one-size-fits-all curriculum, and provide learning opportunities that are appropriate for each of your students.
This is no easy task for either of you. Teachers, you have one perspective and Parents, you have another.
Throw each other an olive branch.
Measurement is a great unit to hone your differentiation skills💕
💥involves numbers of all sizes
Look at this activity, Measuring With Paper Clips:
👏👏one activity CAN target all 25 learners👊👊
- visual pictures of objects to measure
- option to pick own objects
- ability to number match
- mark the box with a cheque mark, colour the box, write the number or use a number sticker
Remember, differentiation can be simple! Knowing your students, their needs/strengths, is key to easy differentiation.
Keep reading for resources & ideas!