Monday, March 17, 2014

Differentiating with Area and Perimeter

Being on Spring Break sure does have its upsides doesn't it?!  One being the fact I am able to sit down and finally blog...AKA relax on my own terms.  I have a Lifetime movie playing in the background called The Grim Sleeper.  Did you get to watch it?  What can I say?  I'm obsessed with watching their newest 2 hour TV movies.  Reading my book here and there when I want, going to the bathroom whenever I want, and snacking on whatever I want is definitely the bee's knees.  It makes me look forward to summer break that much more!

As we all know (it's what nightmares are made of)'s that time of the season.  Testing is just around the corner and the pressure is on!  With trying to fit everything on our district benchmark testing and the state test in to such a tiny time frame, it is that much more important I push that rigor and multiple opportunities for practice with my students.  So, bring on differentiation!

By first having my students complete a multi-level exit ticket (which ended up becoming more like a post test) I was able to figure out which levels of area and perimeter each student met in or what they needed more practice in.  As a gifted-cluster teacher, I try to do as many tiered differentiation lessons as possible.  In this case, it means I have 9 gifted learners while the rest of my students are mainstreamed. It can get pretty hard when I don't have as much time as I want to plan them out, but each year I end up with more and more.

Below you can see part of a screen shot of the flipchart I had up on our ActivBoard during the day's lesson. Every time we tackle a tiered lesson, I go over the Owl's assignment first so those students can get straight to work on their extension.  But I need my other students to sit and take it in because if they complete their activity and show mastery, they are able to move on.  That's why I love tiered lessons!!

Extension/Tier 3 Group

**Always works solo/independently**

My group of about 6-7 Owls worked in the library on their own and had quite a time with their activity. They were doing so well I only had to check on them a couple different times to make sure they were measuring the area and perimeter correctly, since this was something we didn't do with irregular polygons as a whole class (we only had to use grid paper).

Extra Practice/Tier 2 Group

**Always works with 1-2 other students**

My Eagles were able to gather in the back of our classroom on the strip of tile we have in order to practice identifying the perimeter and area using square units.  I found this idea for regular polygons on Pinterest, but needed to use it for the irregular aspect.  Many of my students were having trouble with larger figures where they had to count and solve for the formulas when there were upwards of 20 or so square units and multiple "irregular" corners.  By making it a bit more hands on for them and on a smaller (although larger...LOLOLOL) scale, that group of kids grasped on to the application of the formulas we had already discovered and practiced a lot easier.

Please ignore our dirty floor...the kids tend to bring in everything off our wet grassy field when they come in in the morning.  Sigh.

Reteach/Tier 1 Group

**Always works with the teacher and/or small group**

For this group of kids, it was a bit tricky.  Each set of students needed additional reteaching and practice with a different aspect of perimeter and area (i.e. area of triangles and parallelograms versus perimeter of squares and rectangles or even irregular polygons)

I decided to have them make flashcards for each formula, since many of the students in this group kept getting them mixed up between the different figures themselves or area versus perimeter.  Then, we went from there with some extra practice on identifying perimeter and area using those formulas.

My students crave tiered lessons because they truly appreciate being able to have the chance to not only move on if they are ready, instead of sitting through another reteach lesson, but they appreciate being able to jump to the next level when they are done working with me during the reteach.  Everything is very fluid and depending on the tiered lesson, kids are not always in the same group to start with.  I use exit tickets every time to determine which group students will be in.  Sometimes, I even find I have to reteach as a whole class.  All students are a lot more invested in the outcome of their learning and they enjoy some of the hands on and project-based opportunities to show their learning.  Sure, the planning can take a bit more time than regular lessons...but in the end, it is soooooooo worth it!

This summer, I plan on trying to put as many of my tiered lessons and choice/extension menus in my TPT store.  But if you would like to check one of them out now, I have had my Plot Elements Choice Menu pack up HERE for a couple months (all based on Bloom's Taxonomy).  It is starting to sell like hotcakes and that makes me so excited to know other students are able to partake in choices and extensions to show their learning!  Yay!