Jon made a great point about differentiation and wondering where to start: with content, process, product, or a combination of these. So, so true for the wise and thoughtful teacher. Differentiation isn't a single "thing." It is never the same twice, and it takes serious thought for a teacher to differentiate in meaningful ways for students. I firmly believe that differentiation is one element of effective teaching; it shouldn't be seen as some new-fangled add-on, but rather as an essential piece of the instructional puzzle that addresses what every single student in the room needs to truly learn whatever it is they're learning. Differentiation is one of the things that makes teaching challenging and sometimes frustrating, but it also makes teaching exciting and new every single day. Finding ways to meet students' learning needs is fun, and it's also what brings together the art and science of teaching to make it a highly creative act.
And speaking of creativity, I loved Nicole's post about creativity and whether or not it can be taught. As someone who never thought she would know more about Minecraft than that it is A) a game, and B) a retailer's dream, based on all of the Minecraft themed "stuff" available for sale in every single store last Christmas, I appreciated Nicole's thoughts on how Minecraft promotes and supports creative approaches to demonstrating learning. Good stuff.
I stumbled upon a great article from The Atlantic regarding Minecraft in education ("Teaching in the Age of Minecraft") and was struck by how powerful Minecraft is in the classroom for teachers who choose to use it as a tool ... and who use it with intention and well. The segment of the article detailing Joel Levin's experiences both playing the game with his young daughter and then using it with students is inspiring and encouraging. Sure, it's a game I know nothing about, but it clearly has "caught on" (i.e. "Minecraft is the best-selling computer game of all time," according to Ossola's article)...so perhaps it's time I break out of my own box (or dig and do some mining) and find out more about how it could be used with learners of all ages.
Ossola, A. (6 Fed 2015). Teaching in the Age of Minecraft. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/teaching-in-the-age-of-minecraft/385231/