Professional Development Spotlight: Torsch

Torsch (Today’s One Room School House) is a paid site (~$7-17 per month) aimed at professional development. The idea is that you record yourself during a lesson, upload it from your computer or a number of online cloud services and send it to a mentor, coach, admin, etc. There is automatic transcription service of the videos, places to upload supporting documents like lesson plans or sample work, etc. The individual who receives is able to view all the materials and collaborate with you (without being in the same room) to provide assessment, feedback, coaching logs, live video conference or chat, create video libraries, tag video timeline with keywords linking to rubrics, frameworks, etc. While this may not be for everyone, it is a really fabulous tool for those working with coaches who are farther away.  

5 Misses: Differentiated Instruction

Yesterday, I gave five examples of Differentiated Instruction. Today, I am sharing five things that are not differentiated instruction. Everyone makes mistakes but maybe this post can help guide you away from misclassifying a strategy as differentiated instruction.

  1. Giving students different manipulatives to work on the same concept in the same way. For example, one student gets M&Ms, another uses Jelly Beans and another uses legos. Students are all using a manipulative in some fashion to build one to one correspondence while counting.
  2. Providing a single list of activities or books to the whole class and letting the students select their own off the list. Student choice boards or lists are great but if there is one list for all of the students it doesn’t count as a type of differentiated instruction.
  3. Assigning homework to the class but letting the high achievers skip it. Not assigning a task is not a form of differentiated instruction.
  4. Letting advanced students have free time, play time or even leave class early. Again, lack of instruction activities does not count as a form of differentiated instruction.
  5. Having high achievers teach the low achievers.
    1. Wait didn’t I say peer tutoring is a form of differentiated instruction? I did and it is when the arrangement is reciprocal, both students are acting as the tutor for a topic and student for another topic.
    2. However, if there is not a give and take if only one student is providing aid to another student without it being reciprocated then it is not differentiated instruction.

Give me 5: Differentiated Instruction

  1. PEP: Personalized education plan book that contains individually leveled materials for either enrichment, practice or remediation
  2. Adaptive Interactive Lessons and Assessments: These activities measure how a student is doing and adjust to either easier or harder to put them right in their ZPD (zone of proximal development); challenging to do manually but lots of software is out there that uses this idea-especially in Math.
  3. Different sets of comprehension questions for readings or books that are leveled to the student’s reading comprehension abilities
  4. Coaching one-to-one for a student to help them with their individual challenges
  5. Peer tutoring groups, perhaps student A is strong in Math but weak in reading and student B is weak in Math but strong in reading, pairing them together they each have an opportunity to mentor the other, this can be pairings or small groups.


Now that I have given you 5 ways to accomplish differentiated instruction, tomorrow I will show you 5 ways that are not differentiated instruction.


Steever, S. (2015). Personal Education Plan (PEP) Books. In Best Practices for Elementary What Award-Winning Teachers Do (2015 ed.). New York, NY: First Skyhourse Publishing.

Professional Development Spotlight: ASCD

The ASCD Differentiated Instruction Page has a huge collection of links for differentiated instruction including articles, videos, book suggestions and online PD courses. It is an extensive resource and if you are struggling to figure out differentiated instruction or even just looking for a new approach, this is a great site to start your researching.

Digital Citizenship Resource: Digital Law

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As we discuss Digital Law, I think one of the biggest topics is Copyrights. Creative Commons is a copyright license designed for the digital age to promote sharing. “Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world. We unlock the full potential of the internet to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity”(Creative Commons, n.d.).

They have a few different types of licenses based on what you are willing to allow to be done with your work. By default, the page loads with the most open version of the rights as they are encouraging people to be creatively open with their work but there are more limited options if they suit your needs better.

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If you are considering using a Creative Commons license for the first time, I urge you to take the time to read the license itself first. They are not revokable


Creative Commons. (n.d.). What we do. Retrieved December 04, 2017, from 

Digital Citizenship Resource

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Common Sense Education might just be my favorite digital citizenship resource. They offer a free Digitial Citizenship Curriculum split by age: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. (Additionally, they offer a premium service for professional development but that is really targeted at the school level.) They have a whole set of unit lesson plans all ready for you to use in your classroom but if you want to check into a specific topic that is an option as well. So dive in and start teaching yourself, your students and others about digital citizenship today.

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