Saturday, March 17, 2018

Differentiation with Hotel del Strunk

This year my school has placed a strong emphasis on differentiation.  As a result, teachers have been brainstorming different ways to offer choice and voice for our kiddos.  Earlier in the year I did a "Progressive Era Football" assignment where different assignments were worth different amounts of yards.  Students needed to accumulate 75 yards to score a touchdown for knowledge [insert groans here].

That assignment was okay, but I left it knowing that there was room for improvement.

Leaving a professional development session earlier in 2018, we were challenged to develop a second major differentiation menu type of assignment for our students.  I sat and reflected on my Progressive Era Football assignment and "Hotel del Strunk" was born.

Let me explain how Hotel del Strunk works.

1. Students have three main course entrees.  These are assignments that all students must complete.  I am a believer that sometimes you just have to eat your veggies before dessert.  These assignments are structured to make sure my students not only hit every area of the standard, but they also engage in some more guided learning here.

2. Student choice comes into play with their side dishes.  These are assignments that really challenge students to innovate.  Tasks like creating an ad for businesses during World War II to convince women to come take the jobs of men, and having them use canva or piktochart.  I have students creating their own versions of Fireside Chats and developing podcasts reflecting on key battles from World War II are all examples of sample side dishes.

3. Used Screencastify to build a video to explain how the project works so students can watch it at their own pace and ask me any clarifying questions.

4. Provided recommended apps for various assignments.  I wanted more than just every assignment turned in on looseleaf.  I reserved the laptop cart to allow them to use technology to transform their products.  As an educator, I believe that I have a responsibility to help guide students to good resources for their products.

5.  I walk around and check in on students.  I remind them of expectations and help guide them to the next step.

I will be honest and say that I am running into some difficulties as I have some students who are rushing through the assignments.  Hopefully, through continuous reminders of the expectations I can minimize that and maximize on some of the amazing ones my students have been making.  I have one student who has asked for an extension so that she can do her battle reenactment on the beaches while on Spring Break.  That kind of work ethic and commitment is excellent and is something I intend to continue to foster with the remainder of the year.

I am very excited to see what this buffet of learning [insert more groaning] produces!  When we offer student voice and choice we have the opportunity to allow our students to express their knowledge through powerful mediums!  Building voice and choice into your classroom allows for new doors to open and new connections to be made. 

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