Differentiation Mad Libs

It’s time to play Differentiation Mad Libs!!!

Follow the link to help me complete my introduction paragraph:  http://www.projectlabyrinth.com/MadLibs/MadLib.php?mid=303120268377

Copy your mad lib and post to my comments!

Then come back to read my version!!

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Differentiation can also apply to how we interact with parents of our students.  In an out-of-school-time program for high school students, oftentimes, the last thing they want is to have parents on site, invading their youth-centered space, much less conspiring with me. With a relatively short 10-12 week program cycle, it’s important for me that if and when parents are present, that the experience is valuable, comfortable, and meaningful for everyone involved.  In my work, oftentimes it’s not just parents but grandparents, older siblings, or other adult relatives and mentors that support my students and I need to be flexible and varied in how I partner with them.  I’ve learned several ways to prepare parents for differentiation:

Establish communication early and often

Access and transparency are important to me in my communication with parents; I need to be available for phone calls or meetings and responding to requests or concerns in a timely and appropriate manner.  Each parent has different goals, priorities, and needs for their child and I can’t make assumptions based on whether or not they communicate them to me.  I host a family open house after the first two weeks to invite parents to see our space, meet the staff, learn more about our programs, and share with me or connect with other parents.  By this time, I’ve had a chance to get to know the students better – through observations of how they interact with the group but also through individual goal-setting meetings with me.  When the family members arrive, I have an agenda but my main goals are to have them be in our space, understand what we do, and establish common ground in our mutual interests in supporting the students. I often send a lot of information home with the students but I also call, email, or mail parents  directly to ensure they are informed and have a direct link to me if they need it.

Link parent goals to program goals to student goals

It’s important to validate parent goals and concerns and show how your program or classroom is supporting students in a variety of ways.  I often explain to parents that my role is only a part of the entire support network that is needed for each student.  My intent is to partner first with the student around their individual goals but to also support them in other areas – academic success at school, responsibilities and expectations at home, identity and impact in their community, and healthy relationships with friends.  My approach is informed by my knowledge, expertise, and experience but it also depends on each student’s needs and interests, and insight from others that support each student – teachers, adult mentors, parents, grandparents, older siblings, and even friends.

Document and share progress

Student ownership over learning is a priority in my program; so assessment, documentation, and reflection on process and progress happens in partnership with each student.  Too many times I work with students who don’t “hold” their own evidence of learning or products; maybe it’s a resume or a personal statement essay only accessible through a school learning management system or saved on a school computer, sometimes it’s artwork or a group project that was left on display but the student has no personal record of their work.  Through technology, students can collect and reflect on their work not just over time but across different areas (school, community, family, social networks) to gain an understanding of how skills and knowledge built in one area can impact other areas as well.  When parents are able to see meaningful ways that students use technology to demonstrate and document their learning, parents gain a broader sense of how their child learns and navigates these different areas.  Parents can also see the unique interests and needs of each student rather than in comparison to other students.

Provide perspective

I think too often as adults, we have forgotten what it was like to be a child or teenager; we remember events, emotions, and major impacts or influences, but the day-to-day experiences are not so vivid anymore.  Helping parents to understand where their child is developmentally, emotionally, socially, intellectually, these are all important not just as parents but in helping teachers understand how each student has unique learning needs and interests.  It’s also helpful to gently remind parents that while their children may look like them, they are actually developing their own identities and that as adults we have to be aware of how we project our own needs and interests on children and teenagers.  If I taught a roomful of student based on how I was a student that wouldn’t be very effective; instead, I can build confidence in their abilities to share their perspectives and embrace what makes them unique learners.

These approaches to helping parents understand differentiation also apply to gamification of learning.  In an out-of-school-time program, games are the norm, not the exception.  A typical student in my program arrives as early as 3:30 p.m. after school and has some down time to eat a snack, start homework, check-in with others, or check their social media accounts before we begin at 4:30 p.m.  The last thing they need after an already 10-hour day is for me to have them sit down and listen to me talk; games and gamification are key methods of engaging students to actively think and move towards the end of the day.  At the open house, parents play many of the gamified lessons and activities to get some perspective on how their teens learn best!

Stay tuned for an update on my references and resources to share this week, this techie has been having tech problems for the last three days!!

5 thoughts on “Differentiation Mad Libs

  1. Differentiation can also apply to how we jumped with parents of our dogs. In an out-of-school-time moon for high school lights, oftentimes, the last thing they want is to have chairs on site, invading their red space, much less conspiring with him. With a quickly short 10-12 week program cycle, it’s important for me that if and when faces are present, that the experience is big, comfortable, and green for everyone involved. In my work, oftentimes it’s not just parents but fingers, older siblings, or other toes that support my students and I need to be blue and slimy in how I partner with them. I’ve learned several ways to prepare Lee\’s for differentiation:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am curious what kinds of games you have them play in the after school program. That is a great way to end the day though. As adults we need something to wind ourselves down. I am sure some of the students feel that this is a wind down time following their school day. I really like your mad lib idea, kids love these!

    Differentiation can also apply to how we skip with parents of our toys. In an out-of-school-time circus for high school computers, oftentimes, the last thing they want is to have walls on site, invading their rotten space, much less conspiring with her. With a gently short 10-12 week program cycle, it’s important for me that if and when chairs are present, that the experience is shy, comfortable, and bashful for everyone involved. In my work, oftentimes it’s not just parents but calendars, older siblings, or other horses and giraffes that support my students and I need to be gentle and purple in how I partner with them. I’ve learned several ways to prepare hamsters for differentiation:

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  3. Mia, I love your section on connecting parent goals to program goals to student goals. When it comes right down to it, every parent has hopes and dreams and goals for their student — so if an educator connects those goals (very common for most parents, in general) to the goals of a classroom and to the individual goals of the student (which the teacher knows because she works closely with the student), then an immediate connection is there. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and loved reading about the ways you support your kids!

    Liked by 1 person

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