Week 4 How To Prepare Parents for Differentiation and Gaming in the classroom

Essential question: How do we prepare parents for differentiation, and gaming in the classroom, in particular?


         I think preparing parents for innovations like gaming in the classroom would have to start in the beginning of the year. When I send home information about class, I would also include this in my letter. I would invite parents/guardian to come in to observe when we have a lesson like this. I would also talk to parents at open house. While I have never had to prepare parents for “differentiation” by that name, when I design my projects, I often tell parents that I leave up to the students how they want to present their results. I explain that some students might be artistic and want to draw, some are good at computers and want to do a project on the computer, and some might want to do a video. I tell them that I find that if I appeal to the students’ interests then they will more likely complete the project and have fun learning in the process. To prepare parents for differentiation I would ask students to share their project with their parents/guardians. I often give extra credit, so students are more likely to share their information. Parents are really open to this because they want the best for their student and also want them to learn the material.

Differentiating instruction encourages teachers to design our learning environments to appeal to a variety of learning styles, interests, and abilities in the classroom (Willoughby, 2005). The assumption underlying this theory is that every child is different. The same might be said for parents. I would ask the parents to think about their school years. What did they like or didn’t like about school and why? I would point out that every child is unique in her or his own way and I want each to succeed in my class. I need to help each child by drawing on her or his strengths to find success.

To prepare for gaming in the classroom, I think I would include the students in this as well. I might ask the students what they get out of gaming and quote some students about it. The more that parents see positive results that are traceable to gaming activities, the less likely they will be to resist these new methods. Studies have shown that using academic games in the classroom garners a 20% gain in student achievement (Marsano, 2010). I might do something like is described in the article in Wonderful Wednesday, where the teacher has parents drop in anytime and invites them to stay the day, an hour, or for however long they want. This enables parents and guardians to experience ongoing work in the classroom. Students can interact with their parents and show them what they are participating in, and I will get a chance to know the parents better.

         By being open and communicating with parents, I think things will go smoothly. I don’t think I would have many parents objecting to our use of these new tools. Once they see what differentiation, and gaming in particular, is doing for their child, they will be supportive of the decisions I make and the things I do in the classroom. Lee and Hammer (2011) point out that, if we can harness the energy, motivation, and potential of game play, we can direct that towards learning and give students the tools they need to become high scorers in real life. I think teachers, parents, and anyone else would want this for the students. We want them to be successful in the years to come and in their own lives.

For my games I have created a jigsaw puzzle of what my blog is about. Below is the URL that will take you to it. Have Fun!







Boss, S. (2012). A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/ guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf.

Crowe, C. (2004). Responsive Classroom. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/wonderful-wednesdays.

Lee, J. J. & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in Education: What, How,

Why Bother? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2).


Marzano, R. (2010). The Art and Science of Teaching / Using Games to

Enhance Student Achievement. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/ feb10/vol67/num05/Using-Games-to-Enhance-Student-Achievement.aspx.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability

Classrooms. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.

Willoughby, J. (2005). Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are, Teaching Today, Glencoe Online. Retrieved February 5, 2015, from http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/ subject/di_meeting.phtml.

11 thoughts on “Week 4 How To Prepare Parents for Differentiation and Gaming in the classroom

  1. Hi Theresa, I loved your game. I must confess I am not good at puzzles; It took me over 4 minutes to put it together. LOL. The game board was incredible. Did you find that somewhere? I hope you didn’t have to make it. It looks like it would take a while to make – it had so much great detail. I also enjoyed your comments about the importance of communication. Wonderful Wednesday sound good but parents in the room can be very stressful and lots could go wrong. I don’t know about you but I have parents help in my room and it isn’t easy. I have parents that bring in their siblings and I have kids that act up when their parents are around. I do like the idea that Wonderful Wed. are not about putting parents to work or putting on show for them. I’m scared to try it. I don’t think I would have enough room for all the students and parents/grandparents that would show up. Maybe I will try it someday.


    1. I made it on jigsaw planet.com. I can see that with younger siblings. When I have had parents in before it was just usually them. I teach middle school so I can see how the kids would at different with your grade level. Yes you have to think about how many would show if you had the Wonderful Wednesday day. Maybe you could have a time when they signed up for a hour or so, then if you had a lot they would all have the chance to come in.


  2. I think it is valuable for students to show and explain what they are doing to their parents. It is more meaningful than teachers doing all of the explaining to the parents. Students can show their enthusiasm as they are teaching their parents about what they are doing in the classroom. I hadn’t thought about that in my blog, thank you for sharing that idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this is why we have turned to student led conferences. The students are the ones leading the conference and doing all the talking instead of the teacher. The student then can tell their parents what they learned in each class and show some examples.


  3. I like your idea of using the students themselves to communicate the positive, educational aspects of gaming to their parents. It’s a great idea–after all, we’re all here because of the students, and it’s easy for teachers and parents to agree on what students request (unless it is something like all-day recess).
    I may try to use this strategy myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recently started loving puzzles and Monopoly has always been a favorite board game so I loved your game you created. I agree that if you start off the year by fully informing parents of what is going on in the classroom and keep them updated, that there won’t really be any problems of parents being upset with what you are using to teach their children. I also like the fact of including the student and having them do their presentations for their parents so that their parents can see what they are doing and learning in class. So many times my students will do their assignments see the grade and throw them away, their parents have no idea what they learned or did. I like the idea of giving extra credit for students sharing with their parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes so many students especially the grade level I teach 7th grade don’t info their parents of what is going on in the classroom. I am going to have my kids present their iMovie projects to their parents at parent conferences. A lot of things kids do at school doesn’t get shared at home. This way they can see what is going on.


  5. Fantastic puzzle. It’s a combination of puzzle and infographic in one. Very clever

    My readings revealed many of the same things you discussed in your blog. One of the things you mentioned was to ask parents to recall their own experiences from their school years and how they influenced their opinions about education. I have a feeling that would be a powerful way to help them see why you try different things in your classroom. Posting their responses or including them in information you send home could help them realize the importance of your teaching techniques.

    You also mentioned the importance of communication throughout your blog. I found that every article I read this week focused on the same thing. That’s such an important part of our jobs. Not just with the kids but also with the parents. The more we communicate, the more support we get. Ultimately, it leads to higher achievement in our classrooms.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think the well planned and integrated approach you describe is a great way to help parents understand how differentiation happens in your classroom. It seems obvious in our group that parents wouldn’t question differentiation too much; I think it’s still important to help parents understand the pedagogy and theories or principles (and research) behind what you are doing. Even if it’s to explain briefly and illustrate what differentiation is at the beginning of the year, it can help parents to support you and the students. In another classroom down the road, the parents can continue to build on what they have learned from you and advocate for their child in other settings where differentiation might not be as intentional. I loved the game, I really wanted to see the board and had fun! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think finding what works for the students and letting them choose how to present a project, is a great idea. We have a research activity coming up with my students. I usually let them present and bring in any items to share. I like the idea of collaborating with parents and letting the students choose the presentation style. I also like having the students practice with the parents.
    Your game was very fun. I like putting puzzles together. I especially liked how the puzzle pieces were in the correct position already. This made it easy to put the puzzle together.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s