Monday, February 27, 2012

Fair Isn't Always Equal but it is Differentiated

"Life is never fair, and perhaps that is a good thing for most of us it is not." 
~Oscar Wilde

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Life isn't fair.  Wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that.

I was intrigued by the title of the book but I have to confess my school district purchased this book for me a long time ago and I have yet to read it.  It might have seemed fun but not exciting enough for me to take it home and I am a bit that has to say something.

Assessment didn't sing to me.  It sounds like a test.  Test are clearly not fun but this is what the book club I picked it up and dusted it off to have a go.

More confessions- My principal told us that this book was the center of strife and controversy.  I teach history that was music to my ears.  I read the first chapter already.  It was not what I thought it would be. (So far that is the a common theme for our PLC choices). I thought a lovely whip about writing perfect test or rubrics. What I found in this introductory chapter is an interesting methodical approach to assessing the progress of learning in your classroom.It is not a one size fits all band aid but is instead a challenge for teachers to realize that their beliefs about assessment drives their teaching systems.  

What struck me in the first chapter is the dedication to the defining what differentiation is, looks like and feels like. He points out that differentiation doesn't make learning easier it puts the learner on level footing to proceed on their learning journey.

I think the safest way to sum it all up is to show the news footage of the Limping penguin.

Differentiation is giving students the scaffolding to overcome themselves to continue on the path to knowledge. Just like that little guy, they may need a special shoe, glasses, that special seat, or  translator. If the ending outcome is them learning by having those aids does it cheapen their education? I don't think so. 

What are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your initial personal grading philosophy or how you look at differentiation in the comments below. 

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