I realize I still need to share my pictures from Vegas. After getting back from Vegas, I have stayed really busy with a graduate summer class. I am currently taking a class on differentiating instruction for gifted kids. I find it all really interesting, and it is making me really think about how I can better facilitate learning this year in my classroom. My favorite of the books we have been reading so far is Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century by Richard Cash.
In this book, he discusses how in our current world we are forced to think and make decisions all the time. Students need to be challenged to think at deeper levels if they are going to be prepared to function in life and in the work world as adults. One of my favorite topics he discusses is that objectives should be labeled as factual, procedural, and conceptual. This makes the teacher identify what the students need to know, need to be able to do, and need to understand. Most objectives used in lesson plans are probably factual objectives. They focus on what knowledge do we want the students to have learned. This would be something like knowing your multiplication facts.
Procedural objectives involve what students should be able to do. These would be skills like going through the writing process, being able to write in cursive, being able to fill out a planner, being able to keep an organized binder, being able to type, or being able to do research on the computer. Many of my 4th and 5th graders still struggle with motor skills, so even being able to cut and fold could fall into this category. I think of these as skills I want my students to have before going on to the next level, such as moving onto Middle School.
Conceptual objectives are what we want students to really understand. Do they really understand what multiplication is? Can they apply it in real situations or word problems? Many times students who are very good with numbers can memorize a process and repeat it effortlessly. They may test well on assessments, but if you retest them later they have not retained the skill. Really making sure students understand concepts will help push knowledge and skills into long-term memory. For gifted students, providing them opportunities to work at those deeper conceptual levels allows them to actually be challenged for once. This year I really want to plan out each unit with these three types of objectives and then use those objectives to plan what activities we will complete. Over the next week or two, I will be doing some blog posts on how I want to implement the differentiation strategies I am reading about in my own classroom. How do you differentiate instruction and make sure that your students are thinking at different levels?