Engage or Enrage


Allen Conway is a 31-year veteran of the trade. For the last several years he has served on statewide assistance teams whose focus is to turn around schools in trouble. Now, he is teaching social studies again at West Carteret High School.

Last week, I had the honor of observing Mr. Conway’s class for a full 90-minute period.

Prior to the observation, Allen handed me a written preview. He linked the lesson to the N. C. Standard Course of Study Goal and Objective 3.02: Trace the causes and effects of the Civil War.

He then outlined what he would accomplish during that class in these broad categories:

  • Anticipatory Set (Visual and Verbal/Linguistic Intelligences)
  • Instruction (Visual, Auditory, and Verbal/Linguistic Intelligences)
  • Viewing (Visual and Auditory Intelligences)
  • Instruction (Verbal, Visual, and Auditory Intelligences)
  • Guided Practice (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligences)
  • Culminating Activity (Tactile and Visual Intelligences)

Specifically, he ran through these nine components/activities in the 90-minute class:

  1. review
  2. transparency/picture handouts
  3. outline sheet (notes)
  4. video clip
  5. review of clip
  6. new content for Battle of Antietam (mini-lecture with notes on overhead)
  7. new content of Civil War inventions (mini-lecture in list form with emphasis on war inventions)
  8. creative writing letter home about new civil war era inventions
  9. cut and paste timeline (he even had gluesticks and scissors for each student!)

Not to single anyone out—I gave Allen high marks for his deep content knowledge and extreme planning . . . higher marks still for his attention to differentiation and multiple intelligences. The class zipped along; no heads bobbed from boredom. It was a well-orchestrated sequence of distinct learning activities designed to engage students.

Today at West, Rhonda Scibal and Linda Patton presented to teachers on the topic of Differentiation. Their session title was “One Size Does Not Fit All.”

Has the time come for us to piggyback on their rich conversation with some structured lesson studies of teachers like Allen who differentiate instruction? That seems like a logical next step in our quest to evolve legitimate Professional Learning Communities at WCHS.



One Response to Engage or Enrage

  1. rscibal0524 says:

    I was very encouraged by yesterday’s workshops. And I agree that a great way to learn about differentiation is watching it in action! Most of the concerns from teachers revolve around practical issues – how does the classroom “work”. Observing a veteran facilitating a differentiated class is invaluable in answering those concerns. I hope WCHS will support those who are willing to learn with substitutes to allow observations and planning. The AIG department is always ready to help – that’s what we do! Thanks for opening the dialogue Joe!

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