I have always loved differentiation and project based learning.
I think kids need to define their learning by more than just standardized testing.
When I started teaching here in Florida, FSA was just getting rolling, along with school grades. SO much of what teachers have been asked to contemplate here since then has been how to make kids achieve. So LITTLE of what we do is based on student voice and interest.
What’s an enrichment project?
For the purposes of our conversation today, and enrichment project is given to students who have already demonstrated mastery of a skill. It is an extension of the learning that can be done in pairs or groups. It usually involves multiple modalities and is cross curricular. Projects offer students voice and choice.
Here are a few of my tips for designing your own enrichment lessons.
Progress Monitoring is KEY!
Whenever I start a lesson, I review whatever data I have on my students for that band of standards. I teach in small groups A LOT and it helps to know an approximation of where kids might be with a specific skill. As I am going through…let’s say…a two week unit. I may test a group early if I think they already have the skill. Years ago, I would just cycle kids through an online program, or give them additional worksheets. Now? I just come up with an integrated project for them to do with their peers. It gives me time to work with other students who need more support and it keeps the other students engaged as well.
Integrate multiple modalities and subjects.
I am an integrationist at heart! I will pull something together that involves reading and math, or science and social studies. Having students take a look at how multiple subjects fit together is a great way to help them make connections to what is going on outside of the classroom. Typically, when I do an integrated project, I’ll include some form of art. These projects are a great time for kids to cut and glue while they connect with their peers on the content. You will frequently find children standing, sitting on the carpet or bopping to a song connected to their learning in my room! It’s so much fun!
Simplify your grading
Use a rubric to grade student projects. Review the rubric before you give the task to the students. Once those expectations are set? They are ready to go! Complicated systems that take a long time to grade will bog down your weekends and take away much needed rest and reflection.
Here are a few posts on using rubrics that might get your thinking started!
The Covid era has taught me to integrate technology in lots of different ways. Tech is a great tool to increase engagement, but there are also so many different support tools. For example, when I am asking students to reflect on videos? I have them pull up the closed captioning to help them with spelling. I use text to speech as an accommodation for students who struggle with handwriting or typing. Several students use the screen reader tool to support them while they are reading as well.
Align tasks to standards.
I like to bundle several standards into one enrichment project. It helps me to cover lots of ground and show student proficiency in more than one area with one project. If you need help with considering what the standards are asking your students to DO, you might want to take a look at this tool to help you break them down. Just click on the picture to go to the blog post where I explain that process.
Not every classroom project is for enrichment, but I think its important that we not forget that the students who already ‘got it’ shouldn’t be held up while we work to bring everyone else up to speed.
We should keep the same energy for the kids who are performing at or beyond grade level that we do for the kids who are not.
As teachers, particularly ones developing an anti-racist/anti-bias lens we look at things that took years of organizing and research to build. We think we’re not ‘doing it right’.
That’s the wrong take. Equity work starts with us as educators interrogating our own frameworks first and then mobilizing to change systems beyond our classrooms. Simply looking for ways to make sure you’re meeting all students, rather than just some, is one way that we raise the bar and create different conversations in spaces where many people think ‘these kids can’t’.
Trust me…they can…for the folks who were rolling with them from day one.
Can’t wait to share more with you all on these projects.
It’s been so much fun!