Each week, I receive a number of samples from various publishers. This week, I happened to open a large envelope with a snazzy, laminated, tri-fold Differentiated Instruction "Quick Resource" tool. For only $12.95 EACH, I could have ordered one of these "tools" for each of our teachers. The pages were extremely text-dense and seemed to be a compilation of everything I have read about differentiated instruction in the last three weeks...as though putting it all together in one tri-fold "thing" and advertising it as the GO-TO resource for making differentiation easy in the classroom would solve every single problem. EVER. I also came across a blog post on "The Cornerstone," touting "The easiest simplest way I've found to differentiate instruction." For only TWO BUCKS, an educator can download what appears to be a table created in Microsoft Word that allows for recording of a concept or skill, specific assignment, and then places to write the names of students who have mastered the skill, are progressing, or are emerging. Seriously? TWO BUCKS? While I'm sure the educator selling her good idea has the best intentions at heart, and while I'm quite certain she has probably earned a fair amount in downloads, I'm struck by how desperate we, as educators, are to find "the easiest and simplest way" to differentiate instruction.
Bottom line: It isn't easy, and it isn't simple. It's complicated; it's complex; it's burdened with the chaotic variables of children and pedagogical approaches and inroads to content.
On a completely separate note, but definitely part of this week's reflection: Minecraft could very well be the death of me. I just don't get it. For the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to be the kid who just plain doesn't understand...but is too embarrassed to ask for help. I spent the weekend getting caught up on everything I fell behind on while in the Midwest so that I can spent the next couple of nights watching Minecraft tutorials on YouTube. I logged on to the server a couple times on Friday evening, convinced that I could figure it out. I found someone's house, felt super excited about walking and jumping and making it into the house...and then I didn't know what to do. I felt like an interloper in the house (IN A PRETEND HOUSE IN A VIRTUAL WORLD IN A GAME WHERE EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE LEGOS!) and I just kept leaving the game in hopes that I wouldn't get killed by a Creeper or a spider or whatever else might end yet another life and require that I "respawn." I am proud to say, though, that I have clubbed a bunch of flowers and plants, so I have lots of seeds to sow should I ever figure out how to plant a garden. When #minecraftprobz retweeted one of my ridiculous "I don't know what I'm doing" tweets, I decided that, at the very least, I may be offering some tech-savvy Minecraft aficionado some comic relief...so I'll keep going. Plus, I know that mastering Minecraft (or at least knowing enough to participate in this class) will be important...so I will try again tomorrow.
Hanson, H. (2015). DI: Differentiated Instruction -- Enhancing Teaching & Learning. NPR Inc. Retrieved from
Watson, A. (Retrieved 1 Feb 2015). "The easiest, simplest way I've found to differentiate instruction." Blog post. The Cornerstone. Retrieved from