Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Sayings: Natural Differentiation



Once every few years, a parent shows up at my door before the year begins to communicate concerns about their advanced learner.  They know their child is in the minority and have valid questions concerning how their needs will be met in a classroom full of varied abilities.  Truthfully, I have moments of wondering the same thing but I typically have more faith than worry, not because I always feel confident in my abilities, but because I've got some non-negotiables in my back pocket that are perfect for every single learner.  Writing workshop is one of my favorite non-negotiables.  What it can do for the advanced child as well as all the others should be enough to put any parent at ease. 

One of the things I love the most about writing workshop is how it functions as a natural tool for differentiation.  Even though 25 writers might be writing small moments, for example, they can all function and progress at varying levels.  While I nudge one child to turn their scribbles into letters, the child on the other side of the room can be nudged to use dialogue.  In spite of the various topics or the focus of that day's mini-lesson, each writer is working at their own pace and at their own level but counting on me to push and nudge when necessary.  This set-up does require something of me of course.  I've got to know my writers and use my conferring time wisely, which admittedly isn't always easy, especially when the student to teacher ratio makes me feel extremely outnumbered.  Regardless of the challenges and the days where I don't feel as qualified as I'd like, I'm thankful for a format of writing that allows nudging and movement for every writer. 



On a side note, this is my 100th Saturday Saying.  I feel like confetti and balloons should be falling from the ceiling.  These Saturday posts began on February 18, 2012, and I haven't missed one since.  Of all the random things I've posted on my blog in the last few years, Saturday Sayings are what I'm most proud of.  I'm conscious of the fact that I've spent many Saturdays on my soap box, being rather blunt, and messing with peoples' comfort zones.  So thank you to those of you who have stuck with me and taken the time to read and even comment.  Your support is a special blessing.  


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29 comments:

  1. YAY congratulations Tammy!! 100 great Saturday's of worthwhile sayings! I love spending my Saturdays with you. We'll meet here next year next year same time, same place for 200!! And btw I love writing workshop for the exact same reason!

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    1. Tammy, 200, huh? You have great faith in me. :)

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  2. I LOVE your Saturday Sayings - I always make sure to pop over and see what you've got for me {us!}. Thanks for sharing your ideas and thinking.
    {Popping imaginary balloons in your honor!!!}
    Sara

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    1. Sara, thank you for the comments and balloons!

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  3. On Saturdays...I go straight to your blog before my blog reader so I can see what you are sharing. Thanks for getting us all thinking each week and let my join every once in a while.
    Laurie
    Chickadee Jubilee

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    1. Laurie, thank you for your faithfulness, and I love it when you join me.

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  4. I love your Saturday sayings! They always give me great food for thought.

    I have one or two parents of high kids come to my room for that discussion during the first week of school every year. I'm getting better about being ready for the discussion, but I must admit that sometimes I audibly sigh. (Bad habit.) Part of the problem is that I can't start to do differentiated groups or individual conferring until the kids are trained in independent behaviors, so they worry that the whole-class lessons are going to be what first grade is all about. I wish I had a time machine and could whisk them ahead six weeks into the future when differentiation really starts to happen ... Maybe I'll take a cue from you and collect writing workshop samples this year as visual aids for the different types of work kids will be engaged in at the same time.

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    1. Lee, I understand. It takes a bit of time to get into he swing of things, although writing differentiation can take place right away. Thank you Lee for reading and commenting.

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  5. Happy 100, Tammy!!! Your inspiration is so far-reaching ... your words are so powerful!

    Blessings,

    Barbara

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  6. Congrats on 100 Saturday Sayings! That is quite an accomplishment and your Saturday Sayings are always full of wisdom and reflection. I especially love today's saying. Sometimes the higher student doesn't get as much attention because we focus so heavily on bringing up our lower students. Writer's Workshop is a great way to differentiate and get the most out of everyone!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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    1. Lori, thank you for always reading and commenting. I can always count on your support. :)

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  7. Love your Saturday sayings! What an accomplishment to do 100 straight without missing a week!

    Tara
    Tara
    The Math Maniac

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    1. Tara, thank you. When I commit to something, I'm all in. :)

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  8. Congratulations on your 100th Saturday Saying!! I look forward to reading each and every one of them:)
    Connie Anderson
    Welcome To First Grade Room 5

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    1. Connie, I appreciate your comments. I enjoy hearing what you think too.

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  9. Happy 100 Tammy! Love Saturday Sayings! So powerful and it provokes so much thought...so great.

    Kelli

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    1. Kelli, thank you for letting me know!

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  10. Congratulations on your 100th Saturday Saying! And I love that you're writing about writing today, since that is my love :) Wonderful that you're able to encourage all your learners and that each can get what they need from writing workshop!

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    1. Susanna, I do hope they find a love for writing just like you. It shouldn't be a chore.

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  11. Hey! Congrats on your 100th post. That's something to be proud of:)

    I'm very thankful for the writing workshop approach and guided reading groups for all the reasons you mentioned. Still working on math:)

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    1. Barb, oh yes. Math is a work in progress it seems!

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  12. I'd say confetti is definitely in order! Your Saturday Sayings have been both insightful and inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

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    1. Thank you Lyn. Your support means a lot to me.

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  13. Yay for 100 Saturday Sayings!! And I love that natural differentiation that comes with student led activities (writer's workshop, daily 5, etc). When provided the tools higher level kiddos naturally push themselves farther. Love it!

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    1. Leigh Anne, yes Daily 5 is another great example!

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  14. Congratulations! I look forward to reading your words of wisdom every weekend as well! :) That is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of. I think because of utilizing writer's workshop I know my students abilities in writing more than in any other subject. I love that time to confer with them individually.
    NotJustChild'sPlay

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    1. Miss Trayers, thank you for reading. I'm honored my posts are something you look forward to. Yes, writers workshop does give us the chance to get to know them and their strengths well.

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  15. “Sustain your motivation, by making the journey as enjoyable as the destination.” I actually can’t say things this much nicely. But you can have someone who can in here: Conflict management skills

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