Differentiation at the Gym #SOL19

Two weeks ago, I started attending a great exercise class at my local gym called Active. It’s a terrific combination of cardio, weights, abs, and balance.  The instructor gives just the right amount of guidance in advance of every move. Her constant stream of directions makes it fun and accessible. And it suddenly occurred to me – the instructor is a whiz at differentiation! “If you are finding this too much of a challenge, feel free to… If you want a bit more of a challenge, you can…” She was speaking my language! I could learn a thing or two from her.

And then I noticed that the young woman next to me was in great shape, but struggling. Not struggling in the out-of-shape sense, but struggling to follow along. She went left when we went right, backwards when we went forwards, too many repetitions, not enough repetitions. It wasn’t the usual uncoordination or lack of rhythm I’ve seen in classes before, though. And her slightly older companion in the row in front of her seemed to be doing OK, but kept turning around to speak to her struggling friend. And then it occurred to me – she doesn’t speak English, or at least not fluently. When they speak to each other, it’s in Spanish. She’s not benefitting from either the clear verbal directions or the differentiation the instructor was providing, because she cannot understand it. She was purely following along visually, perhaps catching bits of language here or there that makes sense. This broke my heart.

As an elementary school teacher, this experience has me thinking two things. First, how incredibly important differentiation is to support all learners. Differentiation requires that we attend to the learning needs of all students. This is critical if we are to maximize student growth and ensure individual student success. This is exactly what my Active instructor was doing and what I strive to do each day in my classroom. It certainly isn’t easy. Second, how frustrating and discouraging it is to be the struggling learner. I’d like to think that the young woman in my exercise class will keep coming back, but who knows. Will she become so frustrated that she gives up?  Do our ELs feel this same frustration? I’m sure they do. We are seeing an increase in the EL population in our district and I wonder if we are really doing enough for them. Mapping out instruction that supports them is an important part of my differentiation planning.

Much food for thought, and all from one exercise class at the gym.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Dangerous Day #SOL19

Today is a dangerous day. Not dangerous in the physical sense. Dangerous in that I can tell not a whole lot is going to be accomplished today. How do I know that at 9:30 in the morning? I’ve been down this road before.

It’s day 12 of summer break and I’m home alone. One of my first days to be a.) home, b.) alone, and c.) no major plans. I have a “To Do List” about a mile long, and I’m ticking off those boxes for sure. But the distractions. OH THE DISTRACTIONS!

  • The mail just arrived.
  • The neighbor’s cat is on the prowl again. What for this time?
  • Is that a female Baltimore Oriole? Why is my camera never close at hand when I spot something.
  • What ate my kale yesterday when I wasn’t home?
  • My leg is hurting again. Damn that sciatic nerve!
  • I’m thirsty.
  • Did I cancel the mail yet for our trip?
  • Oh crap! I forgot to send in my teaching license renewal. There goes another $100!
  • That book is due back at the library today. Just a few chapters left. Should I sit and finish it?
  • Should I make strawberry shortcake for the cookout on the 4th or something else?
  • Better not forget to pick up the books my husband ordered at the book shop. They just called a second time.
  • I really should get those iris plants to my sister’s that I divided last week. Didn’t make it over the weekend.
  • How big is our new great nephew now? Must grab a cute outfit for him for Saturday night’s dinner. Can’t believe he’s 6 months and we haven’t met him yet!
  • Wonder what brought the chickadees back all of a sudden? Haven’t seen them for weeks.

And so it will go all day long until my husband returns this evening wondering, “How was your day, sweetie? What happened around here?”

“Oh, not much,” I’ll reply.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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At last we’re there #SOL19

School ended last Thursday — my 20th year in education — and I finished cleaning and packing up my room today. Time to celebrate the return of summer!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Kicking a clunker down the road #PoetryFriday

It’s Poetry Friday and Linda Mitchell is our hostess this week for the poetry roundup on her blog, A Word Edgewise. Perhaps you’ll join us?

Linda’s giving away clunkers — lines, thoughts and bits of poems — discarded or abandoned from her writing journals. Do any interest you? One drew me in — “As she walks the road…” It’s my first day of summer vacation, so I thought I’ll let it simmer for a bit and see what, if anything, would happen

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I adore northern cardinals, and it seems I’m a bit of a cardinal magnet lately. One has been visiting me outside my classroom every afternoon this week, his familiar chip chip chip flowing in and out of my open window. And then, as I returned home today, I was visited by yet another cardinal. Has he followed me home?

And now for my clunker. I’m giving away “Do you think they talk?” I’m working on something with that as the opening line, but it’s not ready…yet. I’d love to see what someone else does with it, too!

Thanks for hosting this week, Linda. Bring on the poetry!

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The Sounds of Summer #SOL19

It was 6:30 am on Saturday. I had just settled into my front porch rocker with a mug of steaming coffee and my current read. (A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, just in case you are curious!) Nothing but vibrant bird song filled the air. My favorite time of day.

AND THEN…

WOOOO HOOOO!

Down the hill they came. Scooters, bicycles, tricycles, you name it. Ridden by an army of neighborhood elementary school-aged children. They came barreling down the short side street next to our house stopping at the bottom of the hill, right in front of our porch. It was their first Saturday morning of summer vacation, and boy were they excited! Squeals of joy (and brakes!) filled the air. Up and down, up and down they went for a good 20 minutes, and then all was quiet. Most likely breakfast time. I learned later from one of their moms that the summer celebration actually began at 6:20 am with a basketball game in one of their driveways. They were told they could, at that hour, only use a tennis ball.

I wish it were my first morning of summer vacation. I’d be excited, too! I’ll have to find a scooter for this Saturday!

 

 

 

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Turtle Troubles #SOL19

We are just a wild kingdom around here these days. My baby robins have successfully fledged, a young garter snake warmed itself in the sun on our patio Saturday, and now we have turtles. Snapping turtles, that is!

Early Saturday morning, a large snapper made it’s way up a steep embankment to our street from the Assabet River below. This happened last year, too. She is looking for a place to lay her clutch of 20-40 eggs. For some reason she, if it’s the same one as last year, loves an awkward section of my neighbor’s garden. It’s really not an obvious choice, and from what my neighbors observed, it took a lot of back and forth before she settled on this one spot. She has now returned to it three days in a row, which leaves me wondering if she is now finished laying. If she is, she won’t return. The eggs will incubate under the earth and hatch at the end of the summer or into the early fall.

 

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The trouble is, we live on a busy one way street that’s often used as a cut through. I worry for her safety now and that of her soon-to-be young when they hatch. Saturday I stood in the middle of the road steering traffic around her, in my pajamas, no less. She was there again this morning as I left for work, but I didn’t have time to see her to safety.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Turtle Troubles!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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