Friday, August 22, 2014

Differentiated Instruction ...

either you love the idea, or you hate it.  Personally, I love it.  Last year, at WGU, a professor introduced the author Carol Tomlinson to me, which profoundly touched my teaching style.  

I teach at a cooperative where multi-age group classes are the norm.  During my educational research at WGU, I was surprised to discover that mixed-ability classrooms are the norm regardless of the labels in the hallway or the educational model-- traditional or non-traditional. 

The Tomlinson model—Content, Purpose, Process, Product, and Environment-- allows me to organize my approach to my students,  who vary in readiness levels and ages by several years.    Over the summer, I vowed to create more homogeneous lessons and to differentiate my lesson delivery and more importantly the assessments.  

This week for our home-school science assessment, we did something completely different and fun.   We used drama, cooperative learning, and videography to assess the students understanding of our science unit on earth science and astronomy.  

This task is a formative assessment building to a summative assessment that will include math objectives of clocks, calendars, time lapse and science objectives from astronomy. 

Level 1   (1st- 2nd)

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate the meaning the orbit.

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate the meaning of rotation.

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate and orally explain what causes day and night.

Level 2 (3rd Grade)

Using props and acting, students can explain and demonstrate the causes of Earth's seasons.

Using oral language, third grade students can explain and locate the northern and southern hemispheres.

Using a combination of oral language, acting, and props students can explain and demonstrate what cause day and night.


This assessment followed two weeks of modeling the Earth’s rotation using a lit candle in our science experiment place, the kitchen.  We also modeled the seasons using a lit candle.  I used an infrared thermometer to verify the changes in heat on the surface of the ball for change of seasons.  Below is an info-graphics demonstrating the tilt of the Earth, its rotation around the sun, and its effect on temperatures. 


v Globe – or in our case a ball on a skewer mounted to a coffee can.
v A model of the sun – or an unlit candle
v Video equipment (iPhone)
v Task card
     Create a task card showing the objectives for each level.  I              wrote the assessment objectives on the whiteboard. 

Does not meet the goal 
Partially meets the goal 
Meets the goal

Exceeds the goal

Vocabulary -Rotation


Cause of daytime

Cause of nighttime

Cause of seasons

Vocabulary- Northern Hemisphere

Vocabulary-Southern Hemisphere

You can observe the assessment video, here. 

 Sun heating the Southern Hemisphere

Temperature of the Northern Hemisphere. 

Temperature of the Southern 

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