Speaker Topics
Diane is available to provide presentations and professional development on:
  • Differentiation
  • Gifted & Talented Learners
  • New Grading Paradigms
  • Assessment Strategies
  • Academic Underachievement

Training Topics

Although presentations and professional development training is always customized to your school’s goals and your teachers’ learning needs, the following is a sample of sessions that may be provided.

Differentiating Instruction

Making Differentiation a Habit

The habit of differentiation becomes the way we do the work in today’s academically diverse and increasingly challenging classrooms. The habit of differentiation results in students enthusiastically engaged in learning, experiencing increasing levels of success and gaining confidence as learners. We will explore the critical elements that distinguish authentic differentiation from indiscriminate teaching tips and tricks. In applying these elements, you can be confident that the work you do in differentiation is based on a solid foundation of research based best practices in teaching and learning. Finally, we will examine the specific instructional strategies that exemplify the habit of differentiation.

Flexible Teaching Routines: Why a Single Lane Highway Doesn’t Work Anymore

Routines are typical processes or procedures for teaching used repeatedly. All students move through a lesson together in a routine. However, learning differences typically appear at many points in a lesson. Where should a routine flex to offer a tiered assignment, a choice, an application or extensions opportunity? Where do gifted learners fit into the routine? We review examples of flexible teaching routines, determining the kind and purpose of differentiation at particular junctures of the lesson. A step by step process for determining when and how a teaching routine might be best flexed to differentiate a lesson is presented.

Critical Elements in a Differentiated Classroom: Tiered Assignments and Flexible Instructional Groups

Although there are multiple strategies that teachers utilize in differentiated classrooms, the most sophisticated, focused and foundational of all is the use of tiered assignments. Explore six ways to tier assignments based on specific learning needs of your students. Discover strategies to make tiered assignments “invisible” to your students. Extend your practices in managing a differentiated classroom through the use of flexible instructional grouping.

Leave this session with a clear understanding that tiered assignments are not only critical but do-able in a differentiated classroom.

Tame Your Differentiated Classroom!

Teachers in academically diverse classrooms face the challenges of managing time, instruction, materials and resources, and student behavior. This session focuses on practical, go-to strategies that will help all teachers work more effectively and efficiently in differentiated classrooms. In addition, you will find ideas to better manage the challenges presented by students who need to become more responsible and independent in diverse classrooms.

Up from Underachievement

Teachers recognize that not all students are engaged and productive. Some students perform well in a single curriculum area but appear to be struggling in others. Some students establish a perplexing pattern of doing well or doing nothing. This session explores well documented research on underlying causes of low performance and creates distinctions between non-producers, selective producers and underachievers. Participants are guided through a process for diagnosing specific performance issues. Specific and targeted courses of action are suggested.

Assessment

Practical, Do-Able Assessment Strategies: A Toolkit for Teachers

In order to more systematically respond to academic diversity, teachers need tools that can effectively identify student learning needs and progress. Pre-assessment and formative assessment strategies must not only be practical, do-able, and less time consuming but also be effective in guiding instructional planning and differentiation. This session offers a “toolkit” of practical assessment strategies to enhance the educator’s ability to collect data on student learning needs and to plan for and respond to differences.

Formative Assessment Strategies: An Essential Element for Success in Common Core Classrooms

Without both pre-assessment and formative assessment, teachers would not know when and how to differentiate instruction for learners. However, teachers frequently feel overwhelmed with the need to design, facilitate and then analyze formative assessment data as well as find the time to do so! This session provides  “good to go” strategies for formative assessment that will not only get you the data you need to make instructional decisions but also actively engage your students in non-threatening assessments.  We will also sketch out where and how we might embed formative assessment into a curriculum unit’s teaching routines to optimize your understanding of your students’ learning progress.

The Common Core State Standards

Making the Connections: Differentiating Instruction In A Common Core Classroom

What is important for students to know, understand and be able to do is increasingly being directed by state content standards and now at the national level by the Common Core State Standards. This session will explore the ways in which differentiated instruction can increase the likelihood of student success in a standards based classroom and how the strategies of differentiation can enable a teacher to reach and teach more learners.

Thinking Through the Common Core

Distinguished as one of the essential skills for the 21st century, long neglected the skills of critical and creative thinking are also critical to success in the Common Core. However, it is time to go beyond skills into tactics that strengthen the core of critical and creative thinking. This session focuses on pedagogy that encourages students to experiment, to innovate, and to explore new avenues. Such pedagogy takes students deeper into complex tasks that support rather than trivialize the teaching of thinking skills. In addition, attention will be given to the role of collaboration, diversity, idea exchange and an ability to build on another’s achievements in the process.

Common Core Standards: Implications for Gifted Learners

Although Common Core State Standards (CCSS) may be considered to be more rigorous than some previous state standards, they still fall short in meeting the specific needs of gifted learners. What misconceptions related to CCSS and gifted students should be considered? This session examines the implications of the Common Core on curriculum content, instruction, and program delivery for gifted students. Specific strategies for using CCSS to guide acceleration and to increase depth and complexity of learning are offered. Explore how CCSS may assist us in reframing gifted services.

Gifted and Talented Learners

Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics

Today’s classroom teachers focus on differentiation to meet the needs of all students. However, gifted students have unique learning needs that are not addressed by differentiation strategies targeting only average, high achieving or struggling learners. How does differentiation go beyond the basics to the needs of gifted/advanced learners? This session provides participants with a framework that supports the advanced pace, sophisticated complexity and greater depth required by the gifted/advanced learners. Practical, do-able, step-by step strategies are highlighted.

Motivating the Gifted But Reluctant Learner

Not all gifted learners are productive students. Not all are “A” students. Some perform exceedingly well in a single curriculum area but appear to be average in others. Some gifted students establish a perplexing pattern of doing well or doing nothing. Some are reluctant, even resistant, learners refusing to play the school game. This session explores well documented research on underlying causes of low performance and creates distinctions between non-producers, selective producers and underachievers amongst the gifted populations. Participants are guided through a process for diagnosing specific performance issues

Adding Complexity and Depth to Teaching for Creativity

Distinguished as one of the essential skills for the 21st century, educators of the gifted have long committed themselves to the skills of divergent thinking. However, it is time to go beyond skills into tactics that strengthen the core of creativity. This session focuses on pedagogy that encourages students to experiment, to innovate, and to explore new avenues. Such pedagogy takes students deeper into complex tasks that support rather than trivialize creativity. In addition, attention will be given to the role of collaboration, diversity, idea exchange and an ability to build on another’s achievements in the creative process.

School Leadership

Leadership For Differentiated Classrooms

How do we build school-wide understanding and support for differentiated instruction? How do we provide the training and leadership for teachers essential to their success in a differentiated classroom? Explore how most effective research based practices in education connect to the strategies for differentiating instruction and how it builds a strong case for differentiated classrooms. Discuss a solid rationale for differentiation that can be made with parents, teachers and administrators. Identify the degree to which your school or district reflects characteristics of differentiated instruction and consider next steps for your school site. Come also to share your successes and challenges in supporting and encouraging differentiated classrooms and the teachers who work in them.

Where to Go From Here: Identifying Your School’s Next Steps in Differentiation

Your school has started your journey in differentiation. Now you need a road map of next steps to embed differentiation into classroom practice. In this session, you’ll identify where to go next and how to get there. Work through a process for determining your status with differentiation and for identifying next steps in growth and development. End the session with an action plan ready for implementation.

Instructional Coaching for Embedding Differentiation in Classroom Practice

Whether you are a teacher leader, a principal, or a professional development facilitator, we all want new strategies presented to teachers embedded into classroom practice.  Coaching for success is a critical element in integrating new ideas. This session will provide specific coaching strategies that will increase the likelihood of classroom applications. A variety of tools for gathering data on classroom practices including self-assessment inventories and walk through protocols are provided. Using the data, specific plans for supporting the diverse needs of teachers are developed. We will also explore and practice the effective use of descriptive feedback in assisting teachers in determining what they are doing well, where they are now in the development of their professional skills as well as identifying next steps in their continual growth and development.

Co-teaching: A Collaborative Approach to Meeting the Needs of All Learners

Co-teaching has emerged as a favored practice in inclusion classrooms. It holds the promise for better supporting the unique needs of all students from those who struggle in learning to those who are gifted and academically talented. This session will present seven co-teaching approaches for working together in the classroom. Practical suggestions for building trust, establishing individual and shared roles, establishing co-teaching norms as well as for effective and efficient use of co-planning time are provided.