Powell, A. & Steele P. (1996). The Greek News. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
A poem for Easter 2019
by Dave Bentley
He spoke of His Body in the bread
Broken before their eyes
He spoke of blood, crimson red
Shed before their eyes
They jockeyed for position
They fretted over promotion
While He lived before their eyes
He prayed for a different way
While they closed their eyes
He sought a way of escape
While they closed their eyes
But He would yield to His will
The promise of God would be fulfilled
He was seized before their eyes
He bore the stripes of every lash
Beaten bloody before their eyes
The cross lain heavy on His back
As He was led before their eyes
To a hill outside the gate
The price of sin would now be paid
He died before their eyes.
He breathed his last hung on a cross
Suffering there before their eyes
His life would satisfy the cost
Sacrificed before their eyes
The crowd would turn away
As darkness covered the day
It is finished before their eyes
The tomb, the guards, the heavy stone
Sealed before their eyes
The body lain, cold and alone
Dead before their eyes
The garden laying still and quiet
The fading sounds of the crowds and riot
As everyone departed with tear filled eyes
The day of rest had ended
As they opened in their eyes
The stone had been upended
As they saw with their own eyes
And the tomb was cold and bare
The broken body was not there
And they would see Him risen with their own eyes
—“Eyes Have Seen”
Dave Bentley (2019)
For all students, typical or disabled, differentiation involves process, the teaching, and product, the pieces of assessment that demonstrate proficiency. In looking at this over the past few days I found copious resources in a variety of formats. One particularly useful items is the powerpoint linked here (Differentiation Slides). It is concise and informative and provides examples of differentiation for a variety of subjects.
Interestingly, our PD for the school year has been focused on PBGR (Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements) and I have been part of the team looking at differentiating instruction and assessment. As a Special Educator working as a co-teacher, this training has been more informative and useful that other PD I have been part of in our district. Between the PD, the IRIS module, and the other resources I’ve been exposed to recently, I feel I have a much better grasp on differentiation in the classroom.
Preparing for Differentiation
Preparing students for differentiation means gradually introducing the process, teaching and learning practices, and providing scaffolding as they learn the system. Most of what I have read and heard relates that a key part of the process is getting to know the students in the class. What do they possess for prior knowledge? What are their learning styles? Where are their skills and challenges? What is their level of interest? These steps take time and effort, and in a field where both come at a premium, it is easy to try to shortcut and skip steps. The result of effective planning for differentiation is the potential for successful differentiation. Failing to strategically plan will result in a failure to effectively differentiate.
All it Takes is Time
As a co-teacher in ELA and Math classes I realize that the one thing that I can never seem to have is time. I have resources, information, texts, and the availability of technology and applications, but carving out time to plan with the content teacher is next to impossible. We have had to sacrifice and deliberately set time aside to do this effectively. Even with that, however, we still struggle to be as strategic as we would like with differentiating in the classroom.
What does Differentiation Look Like for LD?
I know what differentiation is not, that is the addition of novelties to the classroom intended to substitute for systematically and strategically planned instruction and assessment. Several years ago I was observing a class as part of my teacher coursework and was very interested in the number of ways technology was used in the classroom. At the time it seemed that the teacher had found ways to keep everyone in the class engaged. Later, however, I learned that it was frequently done in that class to substitute for poor or absent planning. The philosophy was that keeping the kids engaged on devices at least looked like learning.
This is not to say that a differentiated classroom would be absent of technology, on the contrary the devices may be an integral part of using assistive technology for learning. However, without meaningful inclusion they are little more than window dressing intended to mask a lack of differentiated instruction.
One class that I observed had students working in stations. That class provided differentiation through a variety of activities. There were students working with their hands, students listening to the teacher, students writing or drawing responses to a story, and students talking to each other in a lit. circle.
In the slide show I referenced earlier the presenter shows what differentiation in Math and Reading would involve. In a nutshell:
- Variety of Materials (based on level and learning preference)
- Variety of Levels of Support and Scaffolding
- Variety of Sensory Opportunities
- Variety of Interaction Opportunities (Inquiry, Sharing)
- Variety of Means to Demonstrate Learning
The IRIS Center. (2010). Differentiated instruction: Maximizing the learning
of all students. Retrieved from https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/di/
Dave Bentley (1967-)
What if all the stories we’ve been told
Fairy tales and nursery rhymes
Were played out on the world stage
Not just imagined in our minds
And the characters, heroes, and villains
Lived among us every day
What a remarkable world we would live in
It would be a wonderful place
There’d be star crossed lovers
Holding hands across the street
Kissing beneath the moonlight
Whispering words that are so sweet
While evil henchmen hunted
For some treasure they could steal
’til the brave hero captures them
A life of fantasy, a life that’s real.
The eyes and ears of little children
Stirred by those Once Upon a Times
To envision worlds of wonder
To transcend the bonds of time
Gazing ahead unto tomorrow
Leaning back toward yesterday
Resting still within the present
Living their story out today
There would be the swoosh of dragon wings
Cutting the silence of the night
And a princess trapped in a tower
Awaiting the arrival of a brave knight
Enchanted mirrors reflecting faces
Of the folks who search for fame
WHile sorcerers and witches gather
In a secret hidden cave
The things that dream are made of
Could be the things that life becomes
If imaginary creatures
Made our world their home
And the cheerful glee of children
Would be heard near and far
As fantasy meets reality
To see things as they really are.
“What If” by Dave Bentley (2016)
If you have made a mistake raise your hand. That’s right, all of us should have our hands up, perhaps with some enthusiastic waving because we have all made mistakes, and some of them have been doozies. Let’s explore a few other questions.
- Has a mistake ever made you quit?
- Has a mistake ever cost you more than you expected?
- Has a mistake ever hurt yourself or people you care about?
It’s likely that we all answered in the affirmative with those questions. These and other reasons are why we fear making mistakes. We don’t like to be wrong. We don’t like to feel as if we have failed. It can be embarrassing. It can hurt. It can cost. As a result we may avoid situations where we could potentially make a mistake. We are particularly wary of circumstances where mistakes might be public. It might be that we don’t raise our hands in class. Perhaps we avoid volunteering for committees or teams where we work or worship. Maybe we have refused to host the annual family reunion. Fear of mistakes and failure can keep us from a number of things. It may be that avoiding mistakes and the possibility of failure has cost us opportunities.
Let’s explore a couple of other questions:
- Can you think of a way that you learned something from a mistake?
- Can you think of a time that a mistake lead you in different, and ultimately better direction?
A few years ago we were traveling through the Smokey Mountains on a family trip. I had taken a wrong turn, and ended up well off course. However, we found a number of interesting things along that accidental detour that made the mistake worth making. Another mistake I recall is a dish that my mother once made with or Thanksgiving leftovers. It was supposed to be soup, but she had accidentally doubled parts of the recipe. What resulted is a delicious casserole that we dubbed Turkey Mistake. To this day it remains one of our favorite post holiday dishes.
The challenge for us is to view mistakes through a different lens. To see them as opportunities and not as endings. The clip below of an acronym for mistakes gives us some sage advice for positive ways of viewing our missteps.
The difference is determined by whether we will permit the mistakes we make to stress us or strengthen us. It’s not that the mistakes will become less painful, costly, or embarrassing. Rather, it is that we would recognize mistakes as a natural (and intended) part of learning and growing as human beings.
Don’t be afraid to mess up, you might discover that the mistake you make leads to even better things than you initially planned to accomplish.
Dave Bentley – Emotional & Behavioral Issues in Special Education
This blog post contains resources related to Special Education and working with students who may have emotional or behavioral challenges. The resources are intended to provide teachers and other staff with links to sites and information that assist in meeting the needs of students, establishing supports for students, and tracking progress of students. If you are a teacher or administrator please leave a comment with other resources that you have found helpful.
Positive Behavior Intervention and Support
The Website indicates that PBIS intends to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schools and other agencies by improving social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students. While there are benefits for students with special needs, there are also benefits for the school as a whole.
PBIS WORLD – http://www.pbisworld.com/
PBIS World is a comprehensive and invaluable resource of forms and information related to MTSS and the implementation of a PBIS strategy for classrooms and schools. I encourage people to spend some time exploring the site and learning how to navigate through the materials available for the three tiers of support.
Responsive Classroom – https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL). The Responsive Classroom website provides links to training, information, and resources for implementing the strategy in the school and classroom. While primarily employed with younger students, middle level learners also can benefit from the structure and practices of Responsive Classroom.
Articles Related to EB Issues:
- Managing Behavior in Middle School
- Classroom Management Strategies
- Sabotaging Classroom Management
- Decreasing Behavioral Referrals
- Special Education – Emotional and Behavioral Disorder
- Referral and Special Education – Emotional Disturbance
- Supporting Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities
- WHO CARES ABOUT KELSEY
Dave Bentley is a Special Educator in Springfield, Vermont.