D.I. For The Adult Learner

I am that kid.

  • The one that fidgets if I have to sit still too long.
  • The one that takes almost nothing in without a visual: talk to me too much, and I can’t tell you anything about what you said.
  • The one that never comes prepared with a pen or a pencil, although I always have numerous devices.
  • The one that misplaces just about every paper I’ve ever received … one of many reasons that I love my devices.
  • The one that knows what I need to succeed, and am not afraid to speak up to get it. 

Some people find me outspoken. Others applaud my honesty. I think that I’m okay with both, as I don’t think that change happens if we sit around quietly. 

I’m a huge believer in differentiated instruction in the classroom, and using assistive technology, hands-on learning experiences, open-ended questions, and inquiry to really help reach EVERY child. These approaches work for children. They also work for adults.

I just came home from a full day of workshops about Kindergarten. This morning, we discussed inquiry, observation, and documentation, and this afternoon, we focused on supporting social and emotional development in the early years. All of the presenters were eager to share. They had lots of information for us, and they provided us with opportunities to talk and learn together. This afternoon though, I started to feel overwhelmed. Why? 

2015-08-11_16-18-40 2015-08-11_16-18-50There were so many handouts. I know the thinking behind giving them out. At our table, at least half of the teachers said that they preferred paper, and they wanted to have copies of the presentation and the ideas. I can understand this thinking, but I think differently.

  • It’s not about the trees … although I’m happy to help save the environment. 🙂
  • It’s about seeing how much there is to read.
  • It’s about seeing the small print and the number of words on the page.
  • It’s about the worry of where to store these papers so that I can find them again.
  • It’s about not getting distracted by the handouts, and still being able to focus on the speaker.

As I’m sitting at the table, taking some deep breaths and trying to calm down (and I’m serious when I say that I was doing this), I couldn’t help but even think about my personal reading habits. It’s no secret that I love to read. Here’s something that not everybody knows about me though: I read almost exclusively on a device. Why? 

  • Because then I’m less overwhelmed by the size of the book.
  • I can focus on one page at a time.
  • I can set the print size and font. 
  • I can read calmly … and reading should be a calming experience.

Now just like with my handout comment, I know that not everyone agrees with me. Some people love reading a “real book” and almost never read on a device. They have the choice for this option though. Are we giving the choice in our PD sessions? What if the learning was shared online — through a GoogleDoc perhaps — and then those that want a hardcopy can make one, and others, can use the electronic copies? 

Our Board is looking at transforming learning everywhereHow do we do this in our professional learning? We’ve done a lot of talking about the SAMR Model and how teaching and learning has changed, or needs to change, in our classrooms. What about professional development? I wonder what impact consistently modelling this change would have on creating this change in the classroom environment. What do you think? What would you suggest?



4 thoughts on “D.I. For The Adult Learner

  1. Aviva, I think our strategy of taking a picture of the worksheet and filling it out using Explain Everything was a great way for dealing with with no writing devices today and I would dare say more efficient!
    I too dislike paper handouts and would much prefer a digital copy of the information. I have gone virtually paperless in my classroom the past 2 years. All information is posted and shared in our classroom blog.

    • Thanks for the comment, Anja! I liked that strategy too, but I wonder, why did we need the chart handout? Could we have decided on our own way to share our thinking about the answers to the questions (e.g., creating a paper organizer or one on a device)? Just like with our students, maybe the given organizer is necessary for some, but not all. If just a few copies were available, could those that needed them have gotten them? (I say all of this knowing that I’ve provided similar types of handouts to all participants in a workshop before. Now I question if they were all used and necessary.)

      Like you, I also use our blog for just about everything. It’s just those few parents that have told me they don’t have regular Internet access, that get a paper copy. We do this kind of differentiation all the time in the classroom. Do we need to consider how it can happen more with our PD?


  2. Hard to believe there are still places where the paper is overwhelming. The choice should be this: all resources digital in easy to access platforms, (Google Docs, OneDrive), paper provided for notetaking for those who want. If people really want folders and binders of paper: they print them out on their home printer. Adults should be able to DI for themselves for this kind of stuff.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sue! I love the options that you discuss here, and I appreciate that you always provide them during your inservices. I think that these options provide what’s necessary for adults to differentiate for themselves (i.e., having access to the materials to read them online, print them off, and makes notes in a way that works for you). I wonder how this type of model could be used more often. It’s something that I’ll be thinking about too, as a presenter, before I facilitate my next workshop. Appreciate hearing your voice!


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