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  1. Assignment 2:
    The PowerPoint lecture by Julia Thompson was easy to listen to and follow along. I liked her strong stance on not motivating students with food. I have noticed that most of the teachers at my school do reward their students with candy, or tickets to “buy” snacks at the end of the week. I have a sticker chart that each of my students (I am a Speech Language Pathologist) and they can earn a sticker each session, and once they have earned 5 stickers they can earn different things such as: come to my room to eat lunch, do therapy session outside, dot-to-dot pages, etc. However, I do make sure not to have food as a reward. Also, as a parent with an elementary aged son, I do not like it when he’s been eating candy at school. Thanks for addressing this!

  2. Assignment 3: Check for Understanding

    The video presentations did an excellent job expanding and providing great detail into the suggestions, websites, etc to facilitate an environment conducive to motivating and connecting with all students. Knowing that a quiz was coming at the end of each section, kept me more engaged with note taking and checking for understanding. The “checkpoint” quizzes were reasonable questions that reinforced the main points of the presentations.

  3. Assignment 1:
    As a first year teacher, the course reading was very insightful and provided many strategies that I plan to implement in my classroom. I agree that the basic foundation for strong learning to occur, starts with strong and positive relationship with your students. It’s also so important to repair relationships if/when conflict arises so the student knows that you are a consistent and safe adult that cares for them.

  4. The check for understanding questions were a great checkpoint for myself as a learner. The questions allowed me to review the content that I recently learned and ensure that I was grasping the core concepts and takeaways. It also served as an opportunity to review my notes and work through areas that felt newer to me.

  5. The course reading was interesting to me as a new teacher. I appreciated how Thompson presented suggestions for tools within the classroom to use for engaging lessons. I also found the strategies for forming student relationships to be extremely interesting and I plan to use these strategies in my classroom to boost student motivation and connection.

  6. I appreciated the material presented through the videos and presentation for this course. It was interesting to learn about the different ways to motivate students and that in most cases, it is tailored to the student as an individual instead of a specific assignment. I will try to employ the information presented in the course in my classroom by developing coursework that is relevant and exciting for my students to work with.

  7. Assignment #3- Check for Understanding
    i like how each section of the videos had a check for understanding quiz at the end of each section. Knowing that I would be quizzed on each section helped me stay accountable for my learning when watching the videos. Like Thompson recommended, I did take notes throughout the presentation, which I’m grateful I did. I think the notes will help me when writing my paper, and will be a great resource to look back on in my teaching.

  8. Another concept I really liked from this class, was the idea of how teachers can differentiate in three different ways- content, process, and product. As a teacher, I think that I often focus on how to differentiate based on process, but I rarely think about the ways I can adjust the actual content and product. This idea gives me a wider range of options when I’m trying to adjust my teaching/evaluating to fit the unique needs of all my students.

    • (Assignment #1- Reflection on the Book)

  9. I really enjoyed the slide presentations on effective differentiated techniques in teaching. One of the things I found to be most beneficial, was when Thompson talked about some “ineffective, but common practices” in teaching. One of the practices described how teachers often do not provide enough time for student practice. I think that this is so important. As a kindergarten special education teacher, I see how much my students benefit from practice and repetition. Sometimes I am tempted to rush through a concept so that we can move on to the next concept, out of fear that my students will get “bored,” but the extra time and practice is really what helps make new concepts “stick.” This is something I’m going to try to remember in my teaching.

    • (Assignment #2- Reflections on videos)

  10. Assignment #4-Additional readings and paper
    I am a Spanish reading specialist so for other courses I have taken towards my reading license, I have read many articles on best practices for literacy. I was able to review some of these texts and articles that aligned with this class on differentiating instruction. It was good for me to re-read some of these articles and reflect on my learnings with the texts, videos, articles and paper.

  11. Assignment #1-Reading
    I really found the chapters focusing on meeting the needs of all students, adapting instruction through differentiated instruction and designing and delivering effective instruction very beneficial for my classroom. I am pleased that I work for a district that is very “think forward.” The district and schools embrace the Responsive Classroom which is a wonderful approach that focuses on the whole child. Also, differentiated instruction is something I would like to use more in my small groups. I have reading groups that are grouped by ability level with RtI support. Even in my small groups there is room for diffentiated instruction. I look forward to writing my thoughts about this in my paper.

  12. Assignment #3-Check for Understanding
    I thought the checks for understanding were helpful for the teacher watching the videos to pay more attention to the content. It was helpful that one could review the video or notes from the presentation while watching. It also helped that the teacher could redo the test questions if they didn’t get them all right. This is a good strategy for teaching as well. If the goal of the quiz is to learn from the material, then it makes sense for students to be able to retest if they have shown that they have prepared themselves for the retake.

  13. Assignment #2 Video presentation
    I thought the video presentations were very engaging and had very useful information. Even as a veteran teacher, it’s good to review basics because sometimes we tend to forget about even the most basic or logical strategies, since we have to remember and do so much in one day. She presented a lot of information that can easily be used in the classroom even on your first day. With all the great information it’s important for teachers to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Teachers need to focus on implementing one or two strategies at at time. Also be consistent with these strategies and continue to work with them and tweaking them as needed along the way. Every strategy she presented had the students’ best interest and that is what teacher’s need to think about when they are making everyday decisions.

  14. Assignment #3
    I felt the check for understanding questions were beneficial. The formative questions were brief and used a variety of forms. The feedback allowed us to analyze our understanding of the material. The questions made it easy for us to focus our attention on subjects that we may not have fully understood. Immediate feedback on our own learning and comprehension is always invaluable. The ability to have multiple attempts also negated the feeling of giving up. It encouraged you to take the time and investigate. Being a student enrolled in this class, it gave me a firsthand experience into what it is like for my students to be told no or to be wrong without the ability to correct themselves. Most students, especially the underachievers, would simply move on and never look back because there is no “reward” for doing so.

  15. Assignment #2
    I read and took notes on the powerpoint because I had not seen the video. When I found the videos and subsequent quizzes, I found Julia Thompson’s discussion really expanded on each slide. There was additional insight and examples provided which only reinforced the notes I had already taken on the powerpoint. The activities listed were great. I teach math and the suggestions were broad enough that I could adapt to meet my needs. I posted a word wall in my room last year but did not utilize it to the full potential. Some of the activities triggered some ideas of how to actively incorporate it into the classroom. The point I found most reassuring is work at your own pace. If you take on to much without thoughtful planning, then it may backfire. That day’s lesson may not only turn out to be a disaster but the time you will need to regroup and recover will be filled with pressure and stress. After listening to her videos, I am also making “baskets” available at each table with items that could be handy such as a calculator. If as student needs a calculator to help them figure out a problem, they are less likely to get up in front of the class to retrieve one but if readily available they are more prone to use it. I will add paper to the bin as well so I can do an impromptu exit ticket if the lesson took an expected turn during class. I can write the question on the board and have the students answer before leaving. This added preparation and availability of supplies could eliminate minutes of wasted time passing out paper or having students fetch things from the shelves. As Julia suggests, we need to utilize our time effectively and efficiently.

  16. Assignment #1
    I found the book offered some new ideas as well as common sense solutions. I appreciated this approach. It confirmed you are already doing some adjustments and encourages to do more. I was a paraprofessional for years before I became a teacher. I feel like some of the tools I used on a one-to-one or small group basis working with students can be easily converted to a whole classroom. I also appreciated the links to other resources. They provided an immediate source of ideas and solutions. The absolute truth that the book drives home is we need to understand and get to know our students as people outside the classroom too.

  17. Assignment #3
    I felt as though the “Check for Understanding” questions were very well placed throughout the video presentations. These short quizzes helped break up the material into small sections. It was nice to be able to go back and look at the other slides if needed, but the notes I took were enough to complete these questions. I thought these questions did a very thorough job of highlighting the most important information from each section.

  18. Assignment #2
    I really enjoyed the online videos by Julia Thompson. I felt there was a really good mixture of new information as well as really useful activities and strategies that I can easily implement into my classroom this coming school year. The video presentations really made me feel that differentiated instruction is something that I can take on at my own pace and start by making small changes in my classroom. I will definitely be using a lot of the 51 activities Julia provided. One of the biggest items that I took away from the video presentations was the idea of anchor activities. Besides having students read independently or work on math facts, giving students something to do when they are done is an area that I would like to improve on. I will be using the examples Julia suggested to set-up a variety of activities to use this year.

  19. Assignment #1
    Even though I am not a new teacher, I really enjoyed reading this text! I was hooked from the first couple pages when it discussed why teaching is so challenging because the profession is currently changing with new mandates and higher expectations. I think this spoke to the great need for differentiation because each year is going to be different, and we need to get to know our students and help them be successful in our classroom. Although most of the information was not new to me, I really enjoyed all of the resources and worksheets that were provided to help teachers be more reflective and organized. I also really loved some of the games section 11 discussed, and I will definitely be incorporating some of them into my classroom this year. The individualized instruction worksheet in section 12 will be great to use as I start implementing more differentiated instruction.

  20. Assignment # 3
    The checks for understanding were clear and concise. I think I expected more of them especially at the conclusion of a particularly long video. Sometimes two or three videos would be presented before a check and thus, it was appreciated that you could go back through the videos before answering a question. I took many notes so I did not need to do this. My notes were enough for me to be successful on the checks for understanding.

  21. Assignment #2

    I found the videos presented by Julia Thompson veery informative. I took notes throughout the presentations which allowed me to reflect on my own practices. I especially like the information on tiered instruction and decided that was going to be my focus of change in my classes. This empowered me to do more research so that I can start planning on how to implement tiered instruction in my classes. The material presented in the videos for the most part was new to me even though differentiating instruction has been around for a long time. This topic has never been presented to me like this in the detailed and informative format.

  22. Assignment #1

    I am a 27 veteran of teaching. The book, The First Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, was a good book for new teachers and would highly recommend it to them. For myself, however, I found the websites and activities to be the most interesting to me. In addition, section 12 (which was the section we were to focus on) presented content on differentiated instruction that was also presented in the videos. I found this interesting as well. Howeveer, I thought that there might be other books that could have been more detailed and instructional on the topic of this course.

  23. Assignment #3: I took notes throughout the presentation which were helpful in passing the “check for understanding” questions. The format of the questions was effective because it gave us the opportunity to; demonstrate our understanding, go back and review concepts that we may not have understood the first time, show our new understanding if a review was needed, recognize the key concepts/ ideas, be accountable for the presented material, and ensure success for all students. I like that these questions served as a reminder of the opportunities that we as teachers should be providing to our students. Allowing unlimited tries for the questions is a great way to lower the affective filter in students and help build their confidence. After all, success builds more success!

  24. Assignment #2: I really enjoyed the video presentation by Julia Thompson and am thankful for the many new strategies and activities I learned about as a result. I am about to start my second year of teaching so I do not yet have an abundance of resources in my “teacher tool-belt”. I appreciate that rather than just talking about how to motivate and challenge students, she provided us with real examples and applications that are ready be put in place right away! Because there was a lot of information in this presentation, I may have to focus on one thing at a time during implementation.

  25. Assignment #1: The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide was very helpful and informative. The layout is clear, organized, and user friendly, which makes it a resource I want, and plan to refer to in my future teaching endeavors. When reflecting on my own teaching practices, I found that sometimes I would be too focused on the big picture and not place enough importance on the steps to get there. In that regard, the table located on page 203 is very helpful for simple and short activities to incorporate more practice techniques into your lessons. Great book!

  26. Assignment 1: Book
    The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide has great resources for teachers. Although I am not a first year teacher, I found the information provided in the book very helpful. I like how there are different sections that I can refer to when necessary such as “How to Maintain an Orderly Environment.” Sections 12 and 13 directly aligned with Julia Thompson’s video presentation. I can foresee myself using the teacher and student worksheets provided in these sections.

  27. Assignment 4: Blog and Post
    The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide book had some great strategies and worksheets for all teachers. The video presentation was informational and I really enjoyed learning about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation and the advantages of each. It was interesting to read other students’ blog posts. Many comments that other students’ posted I agreed with. I, like other students, took notes while reading and watching the video presentation that I will use in the future.

  28. Assignment 3: Check for Understanding
    The embedded check for understanding questions were helpful throughout the video presentation. They reinforced the key details and main take away points from the presentation. As a student, it made me accountable for my learning because I knew that I was going to have to prove that I understood the information provided.

  29. Assignment 2: Video Presentation
    I enjoyed watching the video presentation by Julia Thompson. It was intriguing to hear a lecture from an author after reading her book. She provided many great websites, graphic organizers, and other resources that I will be able to use in my classroom. The 5 key components of successful motivation that Julia shared were very useful and relevant for my teaching career.

  30. Assignment 3: The “Check for Understanding” questions throughout the lecture are very helpful. They are helpful in summarizing the main points of each section and clarifying any misunderstanding. If I could change one thing about them, I would make it so you have to go back into the PowerPoint to find the right answer instead of being able to guess and check right away. This way, it forces the learner to go back and review the material on their own instead of being given the correct answer. However, I do like that you are able to have another chance if you miss it the first time.

  31. Assignment 2: I really enjoyed the PowerPoint lecture provided by Julia Thompson. She was easy to follow along and listen to. My favorite part of the lecture was when she talked about how teachers should take a proactive stance towards dealing with student learning differences and revolve their instruction around it. I agree when she states that too often teachers rush students through a unit because they are trying to cover curriculum and do not provide enough student practice. Students have more of a chance to succeed when instruction is differentiated to meet their individual needs.

  32. Assignment 1: Although I have been teaching for 8 years already, I really enjoyed “The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide” by Julia Thompson. While ready the designated section, it made me think about ways I could implement the material into my own classroom setting. Since I teach at an independent study charter, I was thinking of using different strategies on a more individual basis versus a whole-class setting. I am excited to use the sample worksheets throughout the book as well. It is always neat to get new material and ideas anytime, as we can always continue to grow with changing times.

  33. I thought the “checks for understanding” were really easy. I think a lot of it was common sense, although that may be a result of teaching for 20 years! I like the idea of allowing people unlimited tries because Julia Thompson advocates for students to be able to correct their papers for partial credit or write an explanation of their thinking process. Good modeling behaviors on Healthy Teaching’s part.

  34. I enjoyed the online presentation by Julia Thompson. One of my favorite sections was on incorporating appropriate competitive activities. I teach middle school math and find that students are often willing to do 50 math problems if there is a little friendly competition involved. She also gave some great ideas on competing against their own personal best, which I had never really thought about. I love the idea!

  35. While reading Julia Thompson’s “The First-Year Teacher’s Guide”, I was able to reflect on my current teaching practices and decide on what new strategies and ideas I would like to implement in the future. I think she has many fantastic ideas to share on a wide range of topics. I am especially interested in motivating my students and helping them understand the purpose and importance of their learning and assignments.

  36. Assignment #3
    During the video presentation, I listened and took notes. As I was listening to Julia Thompson share her strategies, I was thinking about how my students would respond to them. I was happily surprised to see how many strategies my students would absolutely love! I paused the video and decided to make a strategy book. As Julia stresses, all students have their own needs, interest, and abilities. My students display many different levels of each. These levels and knowing how to ‘do’ school often make it challenging. Taking these factors into consideration, I have listed many strategies that I am looking forward to implement in my classroom.

  37. Assignment #2: The video presentation was very clear and informative. I particularly appreciated how many strategies Julia Thompson shared. There were so many practical examples and I can’t wait to implement some of these in my classroom. Regarding the management of centers, the issue I have had has been how to keep all my students engaged in tasks. With the goal being self-regulation and accountability for learning, Thompson suggests that these skills have to be taught in order for the process to be effective. Obviously, being aware of curriculum expectations and student readiness are first key components of differentiation. However, I think the modeling and practice of ‘what it looks like’ to be working in centers is an integral part of the process.

  38. Assignment #1: The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide (Thompson, 2018),
    is focused on providing strategies to enable pedagogical knowledge, skills, and beliefs to ‘come alive’ in the classroom. It is written in a user-friendly manner from a teacher’s perspective. So far, I am finding the book very helpful and I am looking forward to using some of the fun strategies to cater to the needs, interests, and ability levels of the students in my classroom.

  39. Assignment 3: While I viewed the video presentation, I took notes constantly to study and review the information. I was worried about passing the quizzes, then realized that they provide unlimited tries. I liked this feature because I did not feel the pressure to score very well, I could focus more on learning the material. When I struggled with a question, I knew I needed to go back to the presentation and review the material more. This is definitely a teaching-learning moment. Why should I expect students to always get it right the first time!

  40. Assignment 2: The video presentation had a plethora of detailed information on differentiated instruction that I can easily implement in my classroom. I love how she shared over 100 different activities for all age groups. I have started my own ‘bank’ of activities that are key to my content area so I can be better prepared. Also, the ‘anchor activities’ discussion definitely hit home with me. In a differentiated classroom, it is absolutely necessary to have go to tasks ready and available for students. I realize that I implement many different kinds of these activities, I honestly did not even realize what they were!

    • I liked the anchor activities too, Annette. I didn’t know what they were either. Looking forward to using those my students too! 🙂

  41. Assignment 1: Thoughts on the book reading: I am excited to be introduced to Julia Thompson’s literature on teaching. She definitely seems to have found a way to share her educational experience in simple ways that are extremely effective. I know that I will be able to use this book going forward as a resource for planning, instruction and assessment. I am most interested in focusing on how to deliver engaging instruction based on my student’s interests.

  42. Reading the book, “The First-Year Teacher’s Guide,” has me thinking about how I want to change my lesson plans for next year to do a better job of meeting the needs of all my students. My first change is to always start with my state’s and district’s standard and then design my lessons around them. I also want to use a variety of activities in my instruction to help all students work towards mastery. I am excited about giving students choices and options to meet their individual learning styles.

  43. The check for understanding quizzes were a great reflection piece for me. I like how you had to get 100% correct before moving on. The quizzes were easy if you listened closely and took notes along the way. Knowing that I could take the quizzes over if I needed to made it less stressful and allowed me to work for mastery. This was a great reminder for me to let my students retake quizzes if needed and to allow them the opportunity to work towards mastery.

  44. I really enjoyed the online video presentation. The section that I found most useful was the one that shared and explained one hundred possible differentiation activities. I have saved these to my computer desktop to have readily available to me when I am planning my lessons. I need to improve my lessons by adding varied approaches to help my students master the material. I have also shared these activity ideas with my 5th grade PLC so that more students can benefit from differentiated instruction. As I prepare for next year, I am going to remember from the presentation to be both organized and flexible in my planning.

    • I also found the strategies really helpful. I took notes and now have paper copies. I think I will follow your lead and keep a copy on my laptop – ready to go! Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  45. My paper took me more like 10 hours to write, not just five. You’ll probably read it and wonder what took me so long? I will admit that I have not written a paper in a very long time! However, in writing the paper, I did review the course material. I was able to streamline my thoughts on how the course related to my classroom, and choose relevant material I wanted to use in my reading blocks. There is so many more ideas and activities that I can and will include that I did not put into my paper.

  46. I tried to post a blog about the quizzes, but it said the server was down? I’ll try again in case the blog didn’t go through.
    The quizzes were easy, if you watched the videos. The course presentation said you had to have 100% to move on, and that was easy to do. I got one question wrong on purpose, just to see what would happen. The course let you answer the question again. The quizzes in the course presentation make a valid point. Why not let students continue to take and retake a test until all of the material is learned and the standards for that lessons are met?

  47. The videos for the class were very helpful. I loved all the activity ideas she gave to implement in the classroom. While a lot of the activities pertain to older students, there are still many activities I am implementing in my kindergarten classroom. The start of the class came as we were revamping our reading groups across our grade, and her expertise helped me get organized and get started. I also found the definition of the learning styles helpful. I haven’t done a learning style inventory for a few years with my students, and it was definitely a reminder to not leave that out!

    • I also found the learning style inventory very helpful. Quite honestly, I haven’t thought to do this before. I think it is an effective tool to use to plan for all students needs. 🙂