Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Differentiating Power of The Clipboard and Freebies

Hello Pk+K Sharing Friends! My name is Marsha McGuire.  I'm from a  blog called A Differentiated Kindergarten (come visit me sometime) and I am delighted to have been asked to sit in as a guest blogger today on this very fine blog.  While my own blog is "A Differentiated Kindergarten,", I would NEVER claim to be an expert on the subject.  I am, however, an active student of it. I feel it is important for me to keep working towards the goal of a differentiated classroom, and I carry the philosophy that every child in my class should experience success. 

For many teachers, differentiated instruction can be overwhelming.  There are so many aspects, strategies and tools to consider. 
The seeming enormity of it all, paralyzes them and they end up doing . . .well . . . nothing.  I am here to tell you,  differentiated instruction can be time consuming, it does take organization and routine and hard work . . . but you can get there by starting out slowly.  Pick one thing, just one, and start! 

Want to start by learning how to tier a lesson to address your students' readiness?  Great!  I just did a guest blog that will take you step by step through the process over at Mrs. Miner's Monkeys.  Just click the picture below and it will take you there and give you a freebie to boot.

Want to start smaller . . . that's fine too. The wonderful thing about differentiated instruction is that it addresses all kinds of student needs, not JUST readiness.

It allows you to consider student interests as well.  That's a biggy!  Interest is the HOOK!  If you want to find out how I 'hooked' my very first class of kindergarten boys into loving practice nonsense word fluency practice, click the picture below to find out . . . there's a freebie there too. 

But today I don't want to talk about addressing interest either.  Today lets just start by addressing  your students' needs in regard to their learning profile, your learning environment and the use on of one simple tool ---a clipboard!

By learning profile, of course, I mean the way in which students learn best. 

In addition to learning styles, learning profile also refers to a student's intelligences.  As we all know, Gardner believes that there isn't just one singular notion of intelligence, but in fact, there are as many as eight.  They represent not only how we acquire knowledge and information, but also how we represent what we know.

Just as a refresher take a look below:

Now if you're still with me I know what you're thinking . . .how does a clipboard have anything to do with multiple intelligences.  Hang on! I'm getting there . . .

A clipboard  . . . fancy, plain, plastic or particle board . . . can allow you to make adjustments to your classroom environment and offer activities that will address nearly every single one of these intelligences. And besides . . .  have you even seen a 5 year old with a clipboard?  They stand a little taller, they walk with a purpose . . . they feel IMPORTANT. There isn't a kindergartner alive that doesn't LOVE a clipboard. It is, sadly, an underrated learning tool.

And for your kinesthetic learner, it's like giving a 16 year old a license to drive. Suddenly they have permission to do what they do best . . . move!!!!!!!   To address my kinesthetic learners, I use clipboards for write the room activities in my classroom.

Here's a simple spring themed one you can pick up for free to use with your own little people. And because of the type of activity it is, it also addresses your linguistic students who like to read and spell and your intrapersonal intelligences who are content to work alone. 

Is a listening center part of your classroom?   With a small personal cd player and a clipboard, your listening center is now mobile.  Your student can choose whichever area of the room they feel most comfortable to work.  Here's great news! Listening centers are NOT only for taped stories with an accompanying book either.  Provide some great music or poetry for them to listen to instead. (I use nursery rhymes, kids favorite artists and even some ethnic music - Celtic is a class favorite) Grab up a copy of my music response sheet to use when addressing your students with musical intelligences.

Beginning of the year music/nursery rhyme response sheet.

End of year response sheet.

In some cases, a clipboard can give your interpersonal students an outlet for their social tendencies.  How about a math survey, where they interview their classmates and then analyze their findings. Here's one I'll be using for my dinosaur unit in the next couple weeks.  Click on it and it's yours. And because of the type of activity it is, it will also appeal to your logical/mathematical students.  If you want it, click on it and it's yours.

To address the naturalist among your students (by far one of the hardest one for me to do personally) why not take your work outside.  We do NOT have many beautiful days here in Northern Michigan in April, but I guarantee you, we take advantage of the ones we do have . . .

This fall my student teacher, Jennifer, had my kiddos outside using their senses to learn about trees and one of the assignments she gave them was to take the clipboards out and sketch a picture of the big tree on our playground. While they ALL loved it and needed to be exposed to it, my students with spatial and naturalist intelligences THRIVED.  

Differentiating CAN be time-consuming and over-whelming at first, but it can also be as simple as using a clipboard. Avoid doing NOTHING and start small . . . but please JUST START!!!

If you'd like to learn more about how I differentiate in my own classroom, please stop by my blog

Make sure you leave me a note so I knew you stopped by to look around.

****Note from the editor. We experienced some technological challenges with Marsha's brilliant post as it was first submitted. It had to be 're-published' and in the process the original 'pin' link was disrupted as well as the original comments that were posted were lost. 

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you can possibly edit your own personal pins to this corrected URL we will all be very grateful. 

--Debbie Clement --



  1. I love this post! I'm not a teacher, just a mom w/ who is trying to help my daughter Madaline who is in K succeed. Madaline is having troulbe w/ sight words & numbers. I have taken a step in the rt direction & started working w/ her in Feb. I have seen great inprovement! I'm frustrated b/c our teacher is in her 42nd yr. of teaching. Did your mouth open? Lol! I find lack of communication is really the problem. I just wish she would have told me before we were in the 2nd trimester. Mrs. R has asked me what kind of learning Madaline is? To be honest I think the teacher should be able to tell me. I think Madaline is a tactile learner, hands on, but I'm not sure. How would I find out which type of learner she is? Thanks! ~Kalene

    1. GREAT questions Kalene! Looks like the topic of perhaps another post if I'm invited back. Until then, I think one of the important things to remember about Pre-K and K is that students are still gaining experience to find out what their preferred intelligence or learning profile might be in many cases. They should have MANY opportunities to explore and experience the different intelligences to make those discoveries. I hope you follow my blog. You've given me some great ideas that I definately need to explore.

  2. I am in love with your blog. I read your guest post at Mrs. Miner's and I can't get enough. I just started doing some real differentiated small group instruction last week. I'm teaching my phonics lessons in small groups instead of whole group. Thanks for all the great freebies and ideas.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

    1. Thanks Kerri. Differentiated instruction DOES hold a special place in my heart. It's what I want for my own boys so it's what I strive to give to my students. I think as teachers that has to be our biggest goal, to keep moving forward (even if it's baby steps) and looking for ways to improve our teaching and the ways we reach our students. Thanks for your kind words. I love that you're moving forward . . .and doing SOMETHING! YES!

  3. Wow! I think I set a new record for the amount of time spent reading one post! Great ideas and freebies, Marsha! I kept following your links, reading, downloading freebies, and pinning freebies to various Pinterest boards. It's fascinating to think of the similarities between differentiated instruction and Montessori education. I pinned this post with the Springtime Write the Room Freebie to my Kids' Spring Activities Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-spring-activities/

  4. Wow! Glad you got so much from it! Makes my heart soar with gladness to know others can use it.


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...