Sunday, May 24, 2009

Finding Independence in the classroom.

This year, a wonderful reading teacher opened up her classroom to me allowing me one of my favorite classroom corners. I have learned so much from her just from being in that classroom this year. Often we have the same students on our caseload and we have found a mutual tool that has worked well for many students. It is easily affordable to access and implement. One of her big challenges with a small classroom of students is that many of the students needed individual attention to work on reading strategies- yet couldn't work independently on selected tasks to allow for the differentiated instruction in the classroom. Of course, the OT goals were focused on increasing functional skills, improving academic independence as well foundation technology skill development. We have found that a membership to website has been a very useful tool for many of our students. I am in 5 different schools this year and have shared it now with almost 4 different classrooms for kids in grades 1-11 with varying reading levels and abilities addressing many different individual goals. It is another educational technology tool that I have added to my bag of tricks. There are also some nice content books to introduce lessons. I've also used some of the books this year in sessions while working on body awareness, some social skills, feelings identification as well as overall functional problem solving and choice making. The one thing that would make this site better... is a possibility for accessibility features such as the inability to click out of books until completed, the option of not showing the arrow key to advance until the reading is completed, and an option for scanning for my switch users. I love that it is an online service with constant upgrading.


Ronn Kistler, Creative Educational Systems consultant said...

Another way to look at differentiated instruction is not necessarily as independent work, but rather as delivering lessons in different modalities. The alternative is to teach using the arts! (Basically a specialized and incredibly powerful form of differentiated instruction.) I have tried to bang the drum of differentiated instruction loudly during more than 35 years of working with students of every age, and demonstrated how that can be done in the new book I just co-authored entitled "Teaching Curriculum Through the Arts." Students love to be involved and the arts involve them… they motivate them. That’s how we can reach them on so many different levels. I can only hope that more people will aspire to teaching in this powerful way.

Ronn Kistler, Creative Educational Systems consultant

CS said...

Ronn, You are so right in this point- I look forward to getting your book. In fact, last week one of these reading classes (high school students) actually held a reader's theater. As a prep to this each student had to read and summarize a few short skits for the class- and then the students voted on which one they wanted to perform. Other activities that were motivating were sending out invites, creating small props or costumes to go with the characters and small program summaries. It was a great experience and the students seemed to really enjoy themselves.