The Differentiator

For Middle School Staff February 2016 Issue

In This Issue

  • 25 Keys to Student Engagement

  • Creating A Culture of Curiosity

  • Three Myths About Differentiation

  • Visual Math Improves Math Performance

  • The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies

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Looking for some ideas to engage your students in 2016? The graphic above highlights 25 ideas, some old, some new, all engaging.


Click here to read the entire article: 25 Keys to Student Engagement.

Creating A Culture of Curiosity

Many students don’t feel comfortable being curious at school. They’ve learned that asking a question might make them look foolish, slow down the class, or even upset the teacher. So if you want curious students, you have to retrain them to be curious again. You have to spend some time creating a culture of curiosity. This mailing list will give you some ammo.


Each week, you’ll get a list of five links to: fascinating images, interesting articles, and intriguing videos to share with your class.


Check out the past mailers here.

Three Myths About Differentiation

In this Edutopia article, San Francisco educator Paul France addresses three common beliefs that he says prevent many teachers from personalizing (a.k.a. differentiating) instruction in their classrooms. Each has a grain of truth to it, but there are strong counter-arguments:

Myth #1: All students should be working on their own projects with unique products.

Myth #2: Students should be working only on what interests them.

Myth #3: Differentiation is too much work for teachers.

Visual Math Improves Math Performance

In a ground breaking new study Joonkoo Park & Elizabeth Brannon (2013), found that the most powerful learning occurs when we use different areas of the brain. When students work with symbols, such as numbers, they are using a different area of the brain than when they work with visual and spatial information, such as an array of dots. The researchers found that mathematics learning and performance was optimized when the two areas of the brain were communicating (Park & Brannon, 2013). Additionally, they found that training students through visual representations improved students’ math performance significantly, even on numerical math, and that the visual training helped students more than numerical training.


Read the full article, Visual Math Improves Math Performance, by Jo Boaler


Looking for some visual math tasks for your students? Click here to find tasks that can be filtered by grade level and math topic.