I used to think that “fair” means that everybody gets the same, but thanks to Richard Lovoie, I came to understand a few years ago that “fair” actually means “getting what you need.” Mrs Saylor, over at Salylor’s Log, uses this brilliant Band-Aid strategy to explain the concept of fairness and differentiation in her classroom of little students.
This is what Mrs Saylor says:
“On the first day of school, I call everyone to the carpet and we sit around in a circle. I tell each student to come up with a pretend injury. Then I call each student to the front. As they show me their injury, I put the Band-Aid on all of them in the exact same spot (upper right arm.) When someone replies, “But that wasn’t where I was hurt!” I tell them that I am treating them all fairly. They usually try to argue so I may say, “Ohhh you want me to give you a Band-Aid where you NEED it?” Students usually look at me and give me the “Duh!” look. (I do this with all students and even though they know I will put it in the same spot as the others, they usually say a different spot hoping I will give it to them there.) Everyone is all smiles and seeing if I will change my mind about the spot.”
Mrs Saylor goes on to explain to her students that in the same way that they all had cuts and needed Band-Aids in different places, sometimes students do different things in classrooms because they need different Band-Aids. Differentiated activities mean that each child is getting what they need i.e. a Band-Aid in the right place rather than everyone getting a Band-Aid in the same spot.
I used this strategy a few times in my classrooms recently, especially to explain why some students were moving to different learning groups or why some students were working on computers…with thanks to the school nurse who supplied me with an enormous box of Band-Aids. It worked brilliantly, of course the kids loved it (some proudly wore their Band-Aid for the rest of the day) and it will be easy to refer back to it when needed as it will be a well-remembered activity.
So, as I sit and prepare my lessons for the final term of 2011, I find myself grappling with the Band-Aids I need right now…Band-Aids that I wish someone would kindly come and stick onto me.
Band-Aid # 1: How do I get a totally demotivated young boy to stop giving up in the classroom when I know (and he knows) that he would NEVER give up on the soccer field. NEVER.
Band-Aid #2: How do I get a student to take on some responsibility for herself and her learning at home, when nobody else will, and when all the “Band-Aids” I have already tried have slithered off into a forgotten heap on her floor?
Band-Aid # 3: I wish when I started out teaching all those years ago, that I knew what I know now. I know it takes time to learn and grow as a teacher, but in retrospect I would have helped so many children so differently. I need a band aid for my guilt.
If you happen to have the right Band-Aid for me, please let me know. Could you possibly make sure it is the tough, long-lasting kind?
Find the full link to Mrs Saylor’s article over here