Differentiated Instruction

"Differentiation doesn't suggest that a teacher can be all things to all individuals all the time. It does, however, mandate that a teacher create a reasonable range of approaches to learning much of the time, so that most students find learning a fit much of the time." (Cindy Strickland)

Our district mentoring team met with mentors and their 1st and 2nd year mentees to talk about Differentiated Instruction. While this is a topic with great depth and complexity, we limited ourselves to a quick overview and spent some time exploring the Scholastic "differentiated instruction plan book."

The following Scribd Slideshow gives a quick overview of the principles underlying a "DI" way of thinking, based on Carol Ann Tomlinson's work.
(See here for more detailed explanation.)


Some Links to explore:

What is Differentiated Instruction? By: Carol Ann Tomlinson (2000)

Tomlinson's DI Site (additional articles)

Differentiation Central
"We’ve designed this website as your 'go to' place for reliable information and resources that will help deepen your understanding and enhance your practice of Differentiated Instruction."

Paula Kluth
Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, teacher, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners.

Differentiated Instruction Video Clip (via Youtube) Humourous

Bibliography of materials available at DRC (as of Dec 2010)

The DRC tour

A number of schools have asked to come in and get a tour of DRC. I usually begin by outlining the electronic resources (EBSCO, Gale, Worldbook, etc) and then talk about our professional ISL collection as well as our magazines, AV resources and hands-on kits. Participants then get a review of how to search and book materials from our online catalog. (LINK here) We wrap up with introductions to the DRC staff and a chance to browse the stacks. Feedback is always very positive!

IWB substitute: Wiimote

McRoberts invited me to their Pro-D day to speak to the Science department about using "Wiimote" IWB bundles. High schools often find it difficult to find the funding to purchase enough of the standard Interactive Whiteboards (ie SMARTBoards) to make a difference to  how they integrate technology into instruction. One or two boards a year is not enough to be transformative. However, with a Wiimote bundle (costing perhaps $150), teachers can try out the IWB experience and begin integrating this exciting technology into their classes. DRC purchased 2 Wiimote bundles (each includes a Wiimote, charger, bluetooth dongle, 2 IR pens and a tripod, along with a flash drive preloaded with software.) so schools could experiment at no initial cost.

See my presentation notes here.

More ESL resources to explore

Diane T asked me to present some ESL resources to this year's September gathering. I updated a previous presentation and added some newer links. (LINK here.)

I divided my session into : video resources, audio links and text sites. In particular, manythings.org is a treasure trove of material.

September 2010 Teacher-Librarian mini-conference

What will tomorrow's library look like? How different will it be from the facility of yesteryear? And how is the role of the Teacher-Librarian changing? The RTLA Fall conference sought to address some of these issues.

This year, instead of a live keynote, I put together a series of video clips with pauses for discussion. This was a great way to kick off the conference.

We then spent time looking at the world of eReaders, models, formats and features. And the third session featured 5 "biblioapps" TLs can use with their staff. There was time for networking, and browsing the ULS display (Thanks Ren). The afternoon was spent sharing ideas for the upcoming year. Follow this link to the conference webpage.

More Smartboard

I have recently done another couple of sessions on using the Smartboard. (Bridge, Thrift, DRC)  I revamped my previous presentation and created an updated webpage with links and resources. (LINK here). One of the things I've tried to do in this latest series is to demystify the equipment ("it's just a big trackpad") and give a few troubleshooting tips that everyone can use ("little kids having trouble can try using a tennis ball.")

Online Resources for Distributed Learning Instruction

The district has a number of online subscription resources teachers and students can access via password.

I recently presented a workshop for teachers at the Richmond Virtual School (RVS) that reviewed the materials we have paid for, and also listed some freebies that might be of interest.

The session focussed on
  1. Online Encyclopedias
  2. Virtual Reference Books
  3. Journal and Magazine Databases
  4. Online Video Resources
To see the complete list, visit this link.

Immersion TLs and Universalis Junior

I invited the French Immersion Librarians to come to the DRC training lab to learn more about the features of the new "Universalis Junior" electronic encyclopedia we have acquired for the Immersion schools.

This resource fills a missing gap for FI students, and gives them the equivalent to the Worldbook mid-range offering (coming between the Advanced and the Discover kids' versions). It includes an up-to-date atlas.

Overview of the features HERE.

New Projects at DRC

I spoke recently to the Education Committee regarding the services that DRC has been providing this year, and hopes to expand in 2010-11. The presentation I used is posted HERE. I've also embedded the slide show below as a QT movie clip to give a sense of the big themes.

21st Century Teacher Librarian

I was recently asked to present on the topic of the "21st Century Teacher Librarian" for a workshop series put on by Follett. I had a lot of fun with this title.

We often read how TLs need to update, re-invent, modernize, etc. And we hear that in this new age, averything has changed, and libraries must keep up, or be left behind.

I began by showing a clip from a New York Times on-line article on the future of libraries and librarians. In among the descriptions of all the great things the featured librarian does with her students, was her description of the essentials of her job: "I connect kids to books and I connect them to information." What's interesting about this statement is that this sums up what teacher-librarians have been trying to do all along. My presentation explored the many ways we can meet both of these goals using the latest digital tools we have at our disposal.

Check out the link for my presentation notes.

Professional Resources from the DRC

I met with some teachers to explore the professional resources that are available through the District Resource Centre to support teachers as the fine-tune their practice. I've identified four sets of material that could be helpful.

  1. ISL books
  2. "Speaker in a box"
  3. EBSCO professional Magazines
  4. Annenburg Media video
For details on these resources, check out the links page I created for the presentation.

Web apps to use with Smartboards

I went to Anderson Elementary to do a Smartboard session. My goal was to expose the staff to a few great web-apps that help take advantage of the touch-and-move interactivity of the IWB (interactive whiteboard).  I put together a webpage with a set of links to general web apps, as well as some subject specific URLs.

I've also included some tutorials from a Smartboard video playlist, and links to a Notebook10 lesson repository as well as a Smartboard podcasting site. Check out the link for more info.

Destiny Homepages

One of the things we have been working on at the Library Admin Centre is a new template to overlay the catalog tab on the Destiny search page. (See the sample pic to see the "look".)  I first saw this idea on a school library site in the States. The right hand column allows for a consistent set of links that connect with district sits, while the left hand side holds "school-specific" ones. The middle column lets the TL insert an appropriate pic: books, the circ station, the front door, or a smiling staff member! What's nice is that it provides a "front door" feel without the TL being obligated to create a page him/herself.

Speaker in a box: Easy Pro-D

In looking for ways to multiply opportunities for Pro-D chairs, and help provide materials to develop great sessions for staff, DRC has ordered a number of professional development resources that come with a CD, video, DVD and/or facilitator's guide. This is a cost-effective way to provide access to some well-respected speakers. The cost to schools is zero, but gives all the benefits of bringing in a current "big name."

You can find these resources by checking out the DRC catalog, and looking in the Resource Lists (select "Public list" tab) for "Speaker in a box."

PRO-D morning at the DRC

The Bridge Elementary staff walked over to DRC to spend part of their Pro-D day with us. We met in the DRC training lab where I  reviewed the kinds of resources we have in our collection including the ISL books, the professional magazines and a variety of kits, novel labs, posters etc.

I did a quick refresher on the on-line tools we subscribe to: Encyclopedia of BC, WorldBook and the EBSCO databases. We also reviewed how to book materials from DRC via Richnet.

The session ended with a walkthrough of the DRC "stacks" and many teachers took the opportunity to take resources with them.