Differentiating for and Anticipating Student Needs



This is the link of a flowchart I created related to the blog.


As a teacher you have to differentiate every single lesson, deal with each situation throughout the day, be highly flexible and always take strategies on board that engages student learning individually. I would like to write about two students in my current class for whom it is very important to differentiate instruction for their learning.

  1. is a four -year old boy, who started school this year, and seems to be very shy. He has difficulties to step from one place to the next, seems to be scared to transition into other rooms or areas, and seems to need constant adult supervision. When teaching indoors, I have him with me most of the time, and always need to think about a strategy to get him involved into the lesson. So far, I have figured out his main interests numerals and letters. This is important to know as these allow him to feel safer during an activity. The strategy I use is quite simple: I hand over a number to him in the morning that he carries with him all the time. We have an agreement that this prompt goes into his pocket as soon as he needs his hands free for an activity, such as drawing and writing into his journal, or Mathematics related activities where he needs to use his hands. Also, when he gets emotional I prepare him for transitions ahead of time: together we go through the daily schedule, which is hung up on the wall, and shows transition times of the day. During outdoor learning he walks and stands close to me, and I give him simple instructions related to his learning level, such as to find one natural resource instead of five. In this way he shows engagement, as he started showing curiosity in the outdoor learning and picked up a leaf. “This-for Mommy”, he said and smiled.
  2. is also a four-year old boy who started school this academic year. He shows lots of interest everywhere, all the time, and in each learning environment. He is like a“busy bee”flying -moving around everywhere. He is not able to stay focused for a longer amount of time, and usually switches places after two minutes. Especially during circle time it is hard for him to listen to and follow instructions. I get his interest if I involve him into our daily routine, giving him little tasks, such as: be a helping hand, help go through the schedule, hold the calendar. Then he shows a lot of engagement and is able to focus much better. Also, I have been using a strategy that is a very helpful tool: each time he chooses a learning environment I tell him that he needs to stay there for a longer amount of time. He fetches the sand-timer, turns it and becomes his own “Time-keeper” and needs to stay in the room he has chosen during that time. I started with the 3 minutes sand-timer, and he already is getting better using the 5 minutes timer. I am aiming to have him stay focused for 10 minutes using the sand-timer for this amount of time. This strategy is important as it makes time ‘visible’ for the boy, and clearly gives him an instruction he is able to follow. Throughout this differentiation of classroom management he gets more learning input, and his concentration span will be developed by focusing on one specific learning activity. Also, I modify my teaching by sitting next to him on one-to-one correspondence, and repeat what is asked for in his Mother tongue, which is German. This is also an important strategy, as he understands tasks much better. For example, when asked to collect five different objects into a paper bag during the forest-project he could only show me two. The next day I went with him outside on the playground, and together we went on a“nature” hunt. He finally could manage to find the five different objects without my support, and collected: a little twig, an oval leaf, a maple leaf, a rock and a wood chip.

Related to the mind-map “How to support a student in class I created a longer time ago I like to mention that throughout a variety of strategies each child is able to be supported in class, for example:

set up achievable goals

offer strategies for support

communicate with the parents

related to a child’s learning give visible, auditory, kinesthetic input

get into contact with psychologists, health service at school ( such as school nurse)

Throughout this variety of teaching strategies I hope that the students will benefit from differentiation, and will be taken to a higher learning level.

Carola Deinet-Knittel


International School of Stuttgart



Atlas Curriculum


Link related to autism:



Performance-based and summative assessment to measure student learning for objectives

Before writing about assessing students I first like to clarify:

What is a performance-based assessment?

The definition of performance-based assessments varies greatly depending on author, disciple, publication, and intended audience (Palm, 2008). In general, a performance-based assessment measures students’ ability to apply the skills and knowledge learned from a unit or units of study. Typically, the task challenges students to use their higher-order thinking skills to create a product or complete a process (Chun, 2010). Tasks can range from a simple constructed response (e.g., short answer) to a complex design proposal of a sustainable neighborhood. Arguably, the most genuine assessments require students to complete a task that closely mirrors the responsibilities of a professional, e.g., artist, engineer, laboratory technician, financial analyst, or consumer advocate. [1]


What are the essential components of a performance-based assessment?

Although performance-based assessments vary, the majority of them share key characteristics. First and foremost, the assessment accurately measures one or more specific course standards. Additionally, it is:

  1. Complex
  2. Authentic
  3. Process/product-oriented
  4. Open-ended
  5. Time-bound

Normally, students are presented with an open-ended question that may produce several different correct answers (Chun, 2010; McTighe, 2015). In the higher-level tasks, there is a sense of urgency for the product to be developed or the process to be determined, as in most real-world situations.[2]

I would like to write about assessing student’s learning in relation to nature. I teach children aged 3 up to 5 years (Early Years students) at an International school, which follows the PYP curriculum of IB schools.

I will assess students against the standard ‘Showing an interest in and wondering about the immediate environment’ I would like the students to reach the following goals/objectives:


– The student is able to identify and name the 4 different seasons (spring, summer, autumn/fall, winter) related to the Unit of Inquiry “The Natural World”

– The student shows awareness of how to take part in activities related to the Natural World

-The student makes links to their own experience when sharing the experiences with others

– The student listens to and demonstrates understanding by discussing experiences related to the Natural World

– The student gains some experience of the three columns of the forest pedagogy that are PURE –Protect (nature)-Use (Nature) –Relax (in Nature)

– The student recognizes natural resources (such as specific kind of leaves)

– The student identifies vocabulary-linked to the UoI “The Natural World” (such as soil, sun, rain, water, leaf, tree, root)



How are students able to make their learning visible?

Throughout the year I take the students to the forest, which shows some project-related learning. It is important to show what the students have learned throughout the forest-project.


Summative Assessment

Each time upon their return from the forest the students are asked to draw a picture reflecting the forest-trip. They make visible their learning as they express themselves artistically.

Each student is asked individually to describe what they have drawn on their picture. The children that are not able to express themselves verbally (we have 27 out of 34 children being EAL learners) will get an opportunity to explain what is on their picture while getting some extra Mother tongue support. This means that there are many adults being involved in assessing student’s understanding of the four different seasons in Germany.

Also, key vocabulary used identifies what the student has learned: through using words such as: tree, branch, color (red, orange, green), roots, mouse, squirrel, bunny – they show their understanding of what we saw and experienced in the nearby forest. Finally, their picture will be displayed with the children’s comments (that are written down in English, as well as in their Mother tongue).




Performance-based Assessment

At the end of school year the students will have a student-led-conference to show the parents what they have learned in relation to their nature experiences, – whether in the forest or at the outdoor environment nearby school.

One part of these conferences is a presentation, where each child:

Receives pictures of a tree related to the season: how does it look like in spring/summer/autumn-fall/winter?

The child shares with their parents what they have seen and concepts which they have understood.

Afterwards there is a slide show with different topics related to Nature:

In their Mother tongue the student talks about what they have seen, and what has been important to them.

Although some of our young learners don’t talk about these experiences at all, but the older ones are highly engaged in telling their parents about the forest and everything they have learned. For example what squirrels collect in autumn, why there is hardly any food for them during winter time, that they build nests in spring and like the warm sun rays in summer time.



Carola Deinet-Knittel

  • [1] https://www.edutopia.org/blog/performance-based-assessment-reviewing-basics-patricia-hilliard
  • Chun, M. (2010, March). “Taking teaching to (performance) task: Linking pedagogical and assessment practices.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Education.
  • Darling-Hammond, L. & Adamson, F. (2013). Developing assessments of deeper learning: The costs and benefits of using tests that help students learn.
  • McTighe, J. (2015, April). “What is a performance task?
  • Palm, T. (2008). “Performance assessment and authentic assessment: A conceptual analysis of the literature.” Practical Assessment Research and Evaluation, 13(4).






Learning about unpacking standards and backwards mapping

As a teacher of the International School of Stuttgart I use the IB standards of the Primary Years Program. The standards are used by the teachers for students of all grade levels in our school. It is very important to unpack these standards as they need to be used in relation to students’ age, development and background. Mapping them backwards is important as students develop their learning individually, and related to their age, and it aids us as teachers to plan for our units. For instance, mapping backwards by thinking about what our summative assessments will be, informs how we introduce and pre-assess the students.

If there is a student that gets some tasks related to one of our Mathematics standard, such as

“Making use of previously acquired knowledge in practical or new ways”

we discuss this in our weekly PYP team meetings. Together we look where this standard can be implemented into our unit, lesson plans and which concrete examples of learning can be given to the students.

In this case I would use this standard as follows:

If my students have gained some awareness of inquiring into common shapes (such as triangle, square, circle), I will teach other lessons while implementing their acquired knowledge. For example, I will go on an outdoor walk. Looking for objects that remind my students of these common shapes makes the understanding of their learning visible and shows whether they have understood the concept of shapes. It could be that my youngest learners (3 to 5 years old) find things that they relate to their former experiences. I then will take a photo, hang it up and let them explain where they found it, what it is made of, where else it could be found, etc. Creating a mind map is also a good tool to reflect on former knowledge, and deepen the students learning to make them sensitive for new experiences. The assessment of their learning (for example, an audio of the child explaining the shapes found) will be taken into the Evernote database, to which each parent has access to learn about their child’s understanding and growth related to the given standard.


Unpacking the standard


This video is a good tool to make clear what a standard is about, how it can be unpacked and how it is taught- related to components taught by the teacher in one or even more lessons. The video has been helpful to me, as it has deepened my understanding of how to unpack standards at my own school.

I would like to give a statement related to our Mathematics Standards, written down in the Common Core State Standards Initiative as:

Understanding Mathematics

These standards define what students should understand and be able to do in their study of mathematics. But asking a student to understand something also means asking a teacher to assess whether the student has understood it. But what does mathematical understanding look like? One way for teachers to do that is to ask the student to justify, in a way that is appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity, why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.[1]

I believe that this statement –mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important – is absolutely true. I also like to make the standards work for my young students, and bring enthusiasm and engagement to class in order to unpack them.

Carola Deinet-Knittel


© 2017 Common Core State Standards Initiative


Mathematics Standards


Backwards mapping related to a standard of the International School of Stuttgart

This is my blog post related to the standards that are taught at my current school. I am a homeroom teacher at the International School of Stuttgart and in my 11th year teaching the Early Years students. The blog I have created is used for this grade level (3 to 5 year old children, Early Years). The standards we follow are related to the PYP (Primary Years Program) curriculum, and manifested in “Atlas”, a computer program to which all our teachers have access to. We as a team meet weekly together with our PYP coordinator, Maths coordinator and EAL coordinator to improve children’s learning by discussing a variety of activities related to our four Units of Inquiry which are called ‘Form’ (Mathematics), Communication ‘(Language), Relationships (socil Studies), and ‘The Natural World’ (Science). The standards are given by the IB organisation, and we/I are mapping these backwards to make the learning happen related to our students’ age.

I chose the standard of:

Showing an interest in and wondering about the immediate environment


This standard I like to be reached by my Early Years students throughout the two years, during which they are a member of our mixed-age group (3 to 5 years) .

When I started 10 years ago there was hardly any outdoor learning offered, the children spent most the day inside the building. Since then a program has been developed to engage the children in some outdoor learning, what is a part of our daily schedule, and usually is about 1 up to 1 1/2 hours per day.

I have realized that there are many children with hardly any outdoor learning experiences. Also, I have observed that sometimes they feel uncomfortable and struggle to be outside, even showing some fear if being taught some outdoor learning (science related lessons). I like to take their fear away, become them curious about the outdoor learning environment, and engage them in becoming critical thinkers and inquirers while saving and protecting this environment, and finslly our planet.

As a forest pedagogy person (in German: Waldpädagogin) there is a lot of teaching experience I have been gaining throughout the last years. The main aspect of saving Nature, the environment and especially the forest-areas (globally!) are these three columns: PROTECT –USE –RELAX in the forest.

With my youngest children I started this way of learning through a huge variety of activities, such as: making our playground a home for butterflies and insects, protect little animals, such as rain worms and spiders, give us shade through planting trees, collect water if it rains, don’t break plants and flowers as they are a part of our ecological system, plant a hedge for birds and other animals, etc.

It has been one of my personal goals (what is also included in the school’s curriculum) that outdoor learning becomes a constant lesson of the Early Years schedule. Our students from 3 up to 6 years get to learn outside a “save classroom”, and get outdoor learning in the nearby forest-area as well. Daily with a small number of students one of us teachers goes outside, working on activities that are related to the standard, and the Unit we are currently teaching.

Example: if we work on numbers or shapes, we use the maths outside. In the forest we collect a huge amount of acorns and cones, bring them back to school, use them at the maths area for sorting, weighing, measuring and creating shapes.

The students get the following efficiencies:

  • respect our Nature and its resources
  • get an awareness how nature can be used in daily life
  • get an awareness of responsibility for the outdoor environment

We assess the students individually and document our observations on our e- portfolio which is called “Evernote”.

If going through the woods in autumn, I will assess the following:

  • the child is able to look at natural resources related to fall/ autumn (such as hazelnuts, acorns, colourful leaves)
  • the child is able to describe in own simple words what about the identity of a natural resource (such as: flat surface, oval shape, rough, spiky, flat surface, etc) Therefore we also use some Mother tongue support, (for example German and Japanese) as most our students are EAL learners.
  • The child is able to count objects being found (for example, rote- count acorns). Most of our young learners start rote counting up to 5, will develop rote counting acorns to 10, 20 and even 100 (only a few students are able to get this far).

The formulation of the assessments are the following:

Science Standards Assessment – Communication

Describe and compare things in terms of:

– number,

– shape

– size

– texture

– colour

and motion

-Draw picture of object being observed or described.


I hope this blog has shown and made transparent some learning related to my standard above.


Carola Deinet-Knittel 

How to give positive reinforcement and how to react if students breaking rules

How to give positive reinforcement and how to react if students breaking rules

By Carola Deinet-Knittel

Positive reinforcement is a very important way to improve a student’s behavior and learning, and also to deepen their self-confidence.

During my teaching career I have always had some children that needed more attention than their classmates, have been more restless, aggressive, needy than others. And as a teacher you learn step by step to get an idea how to ‘get them on track’- as you realise that otherwise teaching will become more difficult in class.

I have had students from 3 up to 13 years so far. In Germany there are educators who take care of students before/after school, as often school finishes at 1 ish pm. Since a few years ago there has been a change in childcare, so more students are taken under a teacher’s wings than a few years before. Also, there is much more time spent on “after school activities” around school what has become a very engaging way to effectively support the children in being with their classmates.

I would like to give a few examples how I have interacted with children having difficulties in being with others (behavior wise, needy, aggressive potential, etc.)

Having a boy in class who likes hitting a lot:

I first have a closer look at his behavior, take some notes, when aggression shows up, and related to withitness might see it coming (depending on time, schedule, being exhausted, being tired, for example). I gently try to have him around me, doing some activities together with him to keep him engaged, praise him if there is any kind of positive effect, such as: ”You are a real constructor today. Your tower you’ve been working on looks very impressive!” Also, one-to-one correspondence is often needed to get the child’s positive action. If hitting, pushing, starts there will be an immediate reaction following, such as direct appeal. I will stand next to the child, keep him away in a kind of way the students in class are not aware of (otherwise he might be in a negative ’drawer’ related to his behavior), and I also signalize: ‘I am the person that sets clear borders’.

Borders in class I always discuss with my students, -I call these borders ‘agreements’, such as be kind with one another, keep your hands to yourself, raise your hand if you like to speak during circle time, etc. With the children there will be group discussions. The children and I talk about what happens if these agreements won’t be fulfilled, or not respected. To make it visible, I take a mind map collecting what about their ideas if the rules, procedures will be not accepted. Then the children/teacher take photographs related to a specific agreement (for example: Me ‘pulling, pushing’ another teacher: this picture is “red crossed”, next to this picture a photo related to the agreement: ”We are kind” showing two children helping each other to get dressed). These aspects on our mind map are hung up on our classroom wall -being obviously for everybody. Also, the main aspect is translated into students’ Mother tongue, as the parents also can translate this important agreement.

Back to my first case:

If the boy breaks these, there will be further steps we as a class have decided as a follow-up: that means, the boy needs to learn to reflect on his behavior issues, as there will be another step set he might not like, such as not participating in the next library session if disturbing the slot. Also, I have constant discussions with angry, screaming and shouting students that don’t like to get dressed in their puddle pants for outside recess if it rains! But the agreement is: no outside recess -if you are not properly dressed. It might take a few days (maybe a week) until a misbehaving young student realizes –the teacher won’t let me be outside, if it rains. She likes to protect me from getting sick in wet clothes. Most of these issues are also discussed in the afternoons during key group time. Reflection (even with the youngest students) is a great tool to avoid stress in class, as the children realize that they are taken seriously. Also, related to any misbehavior we do read stories related to the topic.

For example, just this last week there was an English speaking boy (4 ½ years old, Indian background) screaming for about 15 minutes because it was time to tidy up the play dough area. He started hitting the teacher, too. I needed to react immediately: I took him aside from the others, so no one could point at him, and brought him to an area called the ‘calm space’: there a bear is sitting on a chair waiting for someone who is upset. I placed the screaming student there, gave him the teddy into his hands, and left him a bit. After a short while (I always could see the boy sitting there!), I went back (2 minutes), and started talking: ‘I am here if you get calmer. Hold the bear, he might help you.’

It usually works if students get used to this routine (I also talked about this to our school psychologists). After a while I was able to talk to the boy again, telling him it was necessary to tidy up because there was a new lesson starting, such as language-time. I also repeated our classroom-agreement, be kind with one another, keep your hands to yourself, and explained what will happen if he don’t do so. We as a class (3-5 year old children!) agreed on the person need to apologize by saying: ”Sorry,” drawing a picture to make someone happy again or holding hands with the one that got hurt. Also, there is another way to say loud: ”Stop! I don’t like this!’ With this sentence we encourage our young learners in showing self-confidence if being attacked by another student. This time, the boy really calmed down, couldn’t apologize but being held by the teacher’s hand together with her went tidying up, holding the brush and broom together, got finished in time and went for the next lesson calm again. In the afternoon I read a story titled:” If you are angry, and you know it…” (being recommended by our psychologist!) Finally, I asked the group whether there was someone who had this feeling once. Nobody reacted. I asked the boy whether he might remember some, and –he did. I explained that it is okay to feel angry, and also that it is okay to say: Sorry and think how to find a solution, such as tidying up quickly to be ready for the next lesson. The boy tidied up the next day very well.

To keep children focused on positive behavior I also try to mention positive behavior of students a lot, but it needs to be not only honored but also mentioned in a way that the children feel my honesty. If being identical the students realize me being the support of their positive behavior.

For example, last week has been the start of our settling-in procedure at our school for the new academic year. My colleagues and I had 22 new students settle into the Early Years area (3 to 5 year old ones!), what could be challenging sometimes.

During the afternoon circle time with the key group students I reflected on our first week, talking about what went well, what they liked a lot, what they didn’t like so much, etc. In my opinion there existed quite a good classroom atmosphere, what lead me to do the following:

Usually I praise and positively support my students by using words, or also by giving feedback to their parents after school, if there was something that really went well. This afternoon I went to my desk, got small glittery stickers and shared them with my students who were thrilled.

I said that this special treat was something I don’t use very often, but if I take it they all can be sure they did an outstanding job. All of the children felt positively and highly valued. In case things don’t work well these are also being discussed during key group time, and solutions will be tried to figure out together as well, such as how to be treaten fair if behavior issues turn into wrong (as mentioned above).


As it is said in “The Art and Science of Teaching”, Chapter 7, page 134:

“One of the conclusions is that a combination of positive and negative consequences appears to be the optimum approach. This conclusion is echoed by

Miller, Ferguson, and Simpson (1998) in their review of the research literature:

“Clearly, the results of these studies should permit schools to strike . . . a ‘healthy

balance’ between rewards and punishments” (p. 56).

It is important to note that the topic of positive and negative consequences

is a controversial one, at least as played out in the literature. [1]


I have also observed that students start interacting strange if I start praising them for things they usually do right anyway. So, for me it is a daily balance to keep the little ones on track in supporting them through voice, words and activities positively to make the class run smoothly. I also interact if there is a child being disruptive; first I try to planful ignore this but if it gets to difficult I interact by getting them into ‘time out’, talking to them calmly, or giving them some kind of attention they do need just right now.


This is the link I created related to the topic: ‘How to best support students having behavior issues in class’




[1] Print Products Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, Jane E. Pollock (#101010) Classroom Management That Works: Research Based Strategies for Every Teacher by Robert J. Marzano, Jana S. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering (#103027) Grading and Reporting Student Learning by Robert J. Marzano and Tom Guskey (Professional Inquiry Kit; # 901061) A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert J. Marzano, Jennifer S. Norford, Diane E. Paynter, Debra J. Pickering, Barbara B. Gaddy (#101041)


Summary of the videos related to teaching strategies in classrooms

by Carola Deinet-Knittel

Watching and reviewing the three videos

Roller Coaster Physics: STEM in Action


When I watched this video I couldn’t stop waiting for its outcome.

The lesson the teacher Mrs. Donna Migdol offered to her students has been a great one in my opinion, as it shows how to get students into learning and deeper understanding of given tasks.

There have been several strategies the teacher set up for making this classroom project of science (Physics) an effective one.

Key concept of the lesson: “How the world works”

Problem solving: the children discussed how to make the roller coaster work –the teacher had the role of an observer, realizing by assessing individually the pupil’s knowledge, as she kept herself back and had some time to take a few notes related to the individual children.

Team Work: Through team work the whole class got inspired, as lots of discussions came up throughout the whole roller coaster project. The children stayed very focused, and also got ideas from one another. There is one thing that need to be mentioned, what I think is very important: as a student of a group you also need to keep yourself back, let others speak, accept others ideas to get the problem solved, honor others and find new ways to interact and communicate with one another. As you do this as a student you grow in your personality and focus on the outcome of the product- make it work as a ‘team’.

Documentation: Also, the teacher asks for documenting the students’ work. This is necessary, as through documentation problem solving might show up, and also it is a strategy you can assess students’ knowledge and learning outcome in detail.

Enjoy work: The task the children had to solve seemed to be inspiring, engaging and motivating them, while giving them also some positive time together with their peers. I realized the children’s smile and engagement. In class there seemed to be a positive atmosphere during work. When the roller coaster worked they all celebrated it, by raising their arms and cheering joyfully. ‘Together we made it!’ –this seems to be the message of this project! The teacher also talked about fun while working on the marble run.

Life- long learning: The children learn throughout this project for their life, as it enriches their self-confidence, patience, team support and thinking on a high level. The message is a clear one: go, give it a try, find solutions through discussions, and make choices.

Share responsibility: This is another great method to get the students into learning on a higher level. They learn to be responsible for their work and share this responsibility, such as the counter (treasurer) who has been responsible for the finances – just like in real life situations. The teacher has taken this strategy to deepen their understanding of learning, and also for ‘life-long learning’ –if you take over responsibility you need to give the best you can to make it work.

The behavior expectations, in my opinion, are ranked on a high level, as the children need to work closely together and  definitely need to respect one another’s’ ideas, opinions, and methods. Agreements  and rules need to be set up to make the roller coaster project be some successful work in the end!

Academically the teacher held up high performance expectations for her students. The physical level is a high one, and usually lots of input and teaching need to be given to make this kind of science lesson be an effective one. It seems to me that the teacher realized she could ask for more learning, – and throughout this the students achieved a higher level of learning.

I am convinced that this lesson about Kinetics and potential energy management and mechanics (in physics, Newton) gives a lot of learning depth for these students in class, as they learn through practice. Both, learning by doing and problem solving  in a team, are strategies that deepen students’ understanding and learning in my opinion a lot.

Explainer: what makes Chinese maths lessons so good?


To me it seems as if the children of this 3rd grade classroom don’t seem to feel absolutely bored, -they just follow the lesson as they are expected to participate in it –no matter whether they like it or not. But there is no choice given in class to maybe work on a project, or together to problem solve a given math task. The article I read is about how math is taught at Chinese schools – such as memorize the multiplication rhyme. In China it is an old tradition to teach math in this kind of way (it was set up about 2200 years ago), and the Chinese teachers are still convinced that this kind of maths works the best for their pupils, and that routine practice is the most efficient learning method.

The outcome of documentation seems to show and underline this effect. There are highly talented students and adults that are highly valued in other areas of the world.

The main problem related to the teaching strategy I have observed while watching the video is the following:

In my ideal teaching world there exists some good relationship between students and teachers, communication is one of the keywords related to my teaching strategies, and to me it seems that the communication level in Chinese classrooms is ruled, highly structured and organized as if the children are under high pressure and kind of military drill. For sure, there are times in a classroom when the teacher needs to speak in front of the children, maybe write down on the black-whiteboard. But it is also a good practice to move from one to the next place, have a short transition time where the brain could relax for a moment and doesn’t need to focus this much.

I am not the one to value Chinese teaching practices, as we also need to learn to accept others’ cultures, also in teaching strategies. But couldn’t it be that this kind of teaching is also taken into governments’ culture of creating the Chinese population think and do “the same”?

When I was young, we also repeated the multiplication scale often and often- it didn’t do me any harm- I still know most of the outcomes and exercises.

But if talking about how to bring children to a higher level: I am personally convinced that students that are maths oriented, (or maybe not!) will reach a higher maths level if the teaching strategy is related to the real world. In China the teachers don’t show any effort to use maths in daily projects or activities, at my school the children use maths in a variety of ways, such as: go shopping at the market, compare the prizes, organize a shape hunt, go and find shapes on our playground (even with my youngest students!). I personally believe that this kind of learning also brings fun and motivation for the students, and they might reach a similar math level than children in China that are taught in the way of phasing. The teacher in class seemed to have some empathy for her students, but this culture is far away from my way of teaching understanding.

This video show that behavior expectations are also on a very high level, -no matter what a student likes to do- they need to follow the procedure of the lesson. It could well be that misbehavior might be treaten through some punishment, and the student might feel ashamed. So –better move on and don’t disturb- this is the message being set by the video, in my opinion.

Because of the norms and procedures that happen in classroom the learning will take place –no matter whether a student has understood the task, the teacher seems to move on. If there is a mistake (and mistakes are there to learn from them!), the teacher corrects it –that is all! I personally wouldn’t like to teach in this way – I for sure teach absolutely differently!

Whether there is high student performance- I think there is a low one, as the students only react on what the teacher wants them to learn! They repeat and answer all together –so there is shown no differentiation on individual learning.

Whole Brain Teaching Richwood High – The Basics

This way of teaching I have never seen before. It seems as if the whole class is very engaged in movements related to topics, tasks and procedures.

Teaching through movements such as rule number 1, number 4 or 7 gives the students input in a variety of ways. Related to geography, how the students find the exact location of a place; this they learn by demonstrating it with their arms. Also, they teach one another by using movements, such as “the Crazy Professor”, who explains through body language the task to his partner.

What -I think -is another great idea is to improve students’ brain work through reading: two students read one after the next, and repeat, what has lots of effect on their brain as it is in constant focus and concentration on what the opposite peer is doing. In this case the students learn by using their listening, speaking, visual, gross-motor and thinking skills.

All in all there seems to be a positive atmosphere in this classroom, the teacher engages the students to constant learning, and encourages them to work on movements related to what is asked for, include their peers and respectfully listen to one another.

Also, the children smile and are all very engaged in this teaching strategy.

It enhances their learning as there is lots of activity going on, – I am not sure whether it might be too much input, but related to the Chinese lesson it is much more positive and seems to show fun in class as well.

The academic expectations by the teacher are on a high level, as she engages them in understanding the given task. Also, the teacher is observing while walking around the classroom and having a look at what the students are doing.

The behavior of these students is on a high level, as they treat their partner respectful, need to listen to one another and imitate their body language.

Norms and procedures in class are set up clearly, the children know what to do and follow the teachers’ instructions.

All in all I would prefer to teach like shown in the first video, as this is the way of teaching I am quite used to, and I also think that the outcome of learning in this case is a high one.

Even with our youngest learners we try to find solutions in this kind of way, and creating marble runs our little ones like a lot. I have spent lots of time observing them through discussions whether this marble rolls up or down or into a hole or away,……

What about your opinion, dear colleagues?

How can Mobile Devices be sufficiently used for the youngest students?


Today I like to write about how using and setting up mobile devices for my students in class.

The main question related to the topic of mobile devices is the following:

Why should a teacher be prepared to allow or require students to use mobile devices to achieve learning objectives?


Me as a teacher working with our youngest children at school (3 up to 6 year old ones) ask myself the following questions:

  1. Which mobile devices could be used efficiently?
  2. Why would you like to take them for the children’s learning?
  3. What benefit could it be for the students to have digital tools being used for learning?
  4. When is the time to use mobile devices in class –is there a specific time when to set these up for learning?
  5. How best can these mobile devices be used to have the students’ interest, and without overloading them?


I personally think that thee is a limited set of mobile devices for this age of children. We as a team work closely together in answering this question,- and came up with the idea of having cassette/ CD players being used on a daily base in each classroom. The main benefit of this mobile device is a language based one: The children like it a lot to listen to story books, that they could use individually for their learning, such as:”The

very hungry caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. We offer both –the booklet and the story, (and finally a hand puppet – “caterpillar and butterfly”), and mostly there are sitting three children in a row, listening to the story by having an ear phone, and turning the pages related to a signal. They can’t stop listen to this sweet story, and there is quite a lot of language learning as an outcome to this mobile device.

Also, we set up the CD player in the afternoons during quiet-play. During this part of the daily schedule the children calm down while lying on their little mattresses, and listen to the story (such as a fairy tale, or a CD related to a picture book, they have heard during story time the day before). There are stories for native English speakers, but also for the bigger group of children what are a lot of EAL students (English as an Additional Language) we like to use this kind of tool. ( 38 students in all, – 10 English native speakers, others mostly German, Japanese, Chinese and others).

Another mobile device is the use of a computer: if we are searching for some information related to our Units of Inquiry, we type in a question in front of a small group of students ( 4 to 6 students), and related to the topic ( e.g. how do seeds grow into a flower?) we try to search for the answer, mostly using photos, pictures of the internet to be shown for the students’ research. This kind of mobile device won’t overload the children’s attention, and again gives them a lot of language based learning which is absolutely necessary for getting access to some English.

I am convinced that the two mobile devices I mentioned help the students at our International School to grow into learning, and to have a huge benefit from these.

Also we collaborate as a team, and share the benefit of learning of the students on our weekly blog, which is read by most the parents.

This makes our work with their children both, transparent and efficient.

There are the topics related to our week whether in Maths, language, Units of Inquiries


or Natural 

World activities. The parents are asked to give us feedback, and like this kind of communication tool a lot. Also, we are able to share pictures, photographs or movies with the parents and the children, what is highly valued as well, as the worjk from school is made transparent. Transparency brings trust, and this is what I am aiming for when setting up these mobile devices for the families. They have become a big part in our communication and relationship with people from all around the world.


Carola Deinet-Knittel

Leisure Tips On the Middle Swabian Alb

Leisure Tips

On the Middle Swabian Alb

experience nature


Swabian Alb informative


Active sports


biosphere Reserve


The GPS tour I have been organizing is set for 8th and 9th graders: 30 pupils in all, divided in groups of 6 and 1 adult for accompanying them. By bus we will drive to the place called ‘Owen’, and from here start

These principles and best practices I would like to mention related to the Mobile Devices in class:


History of technology in classrooms

The Slide Ruler.

In addition to the introduction of the modern library and the pencil during the 1600s, the Slide Rule was first introduced in 1654 by Robert Bissaker.  The instrument was designed for use by scientists and engineers up to the early 1970s.

The Hornbook.
During the 1600s, the hornbook was used in the classroom as a technology device that taught basics such as vowels and consonants as well as the alphabet.


The Magic Lantern.

The magic lantern was first introduced in 1646 and was also known as the Magin Catacoprica which meant “magic lantern.” Although the device was used in homes and theaters, magic lanterns were deployed in the classroom to enhance learning and student engagement.


Slates and Chalk.
It was during the 1800s that students used slates which were small blackboards that were written on using a piece of chalk. Students used slates in place of pen and paper, even though slates were not very convenient for longer assignments and could only be used to solve short equations.  Then they were erased so they could be used to solve a new equation.

Blackboards were made of slate that was surrounded by a wood border to prevent the slate from breaking.  Slate was the material of choice due to its broad availability throughout the world during the 19th century when mining provided abundant access.

The Calculating Engine.

In 1822, Charles Babbage introduced a calculating engine which led to modern day digital computing.  The engine was created with the realization that a computing device must have input, memory, a central processing unit, and an output device (printer).

The Typewriter.
In 1873 Christopher L. Sholes first introduced the typewriter which also debuted the QWERTY keyboard which is still used on modern day devices and computers used to enhance classroom learning.


The Film Projector.
By 1925, the film projector was making its way into classroom environments.  The projector displayed still images from a film strip accompanied by an audio recording.  The images had to be manually changed as you advanced through the film strip.  This type of technology remained in the classroom until the early 1980s and was used to study a particular topic.

The Radio.
It was also during 1925 that the radio started to be used in education.  Some schools used the radio to broadcast lessons to other schools using a specific radio station.  The first lesson was sent over the radio by the Board of Education in New York City in 1925.

The Overhead Projector.
During the 1930s, the first overhead projector was introduced to the classroom prior to being widely used by the military during World War II. After its introduction, the overhead projector became widely used in the classroom which provided teachers with a more convenient alternative to the blackboard.

In the early 1950s, headphones were introduced to the classroom and were installed in listening stations.  By listening to audio tapes through the headphones, students could easily review lessons and reinforce concepts to be learned.
The listening stations were commonly called language labs which have since been replaced with computers and headphones in the present day.

The Slide Ruler.

It was also during the 1950s that the slide ruler was starting to be used more widely in the classroom.  The slide ruler was the precursor to the calculator and was commonly used to make scientific calculations.

The use of the videotape in the classroom also emerged during the 1950s when the first videotape demonstration occurred in California.  The videotape was shown using an Ampex tape recorder that kept the narrow tape redeploying at 360 inches per second.  It was not until a few years later that the wider magnetic videotapes were put into use.
The Photocopier.
By the last year of the 1950s, Xerox introduced the first photocopier machine.  This helped teachers to create copies of classroom materials easier and faster than the mimeograph machine.


The Microfilm Viewer.
During the 1960s, the individual filmstrip (microfilm) viewer was introduced to libraries and educational institutions.  The device provided a way for students to view individual filmstrips at their own pace.  The device was also used in libraries to search through newspaper archives and other publications for research.
Liquid Paper.
It was also during the 1960s that Liquid Paper was introduced and widely used with the typewriter.
Students who took typing class or used the typewriter to complete assignments and research papers could dip the brush into the liquid and then apply it to the paper to correct a typing error.


The Calculator.
The 1970s marked the transition to the handheld calculator in the classroom environment. Despite the fact there was concern over the loss of basic learning skills such as long division, manual multiplication, and other skills, the handheld calculator became a widely used device and was the precursor to the calculators used in the present-day classroom.

Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
The 1970s also brought the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to homes and classrooms.  This allowed educational programming covering a wide variety of topics to be viewed on a television in the classroom or in the home environment.

The Apple II.
In 1977, Apple released the Apple II desktop computer which allowed students to learn geography and math problems using computer games. The Apple II utilised floppy disks for viewing various types of content and did not have access to the Internet.

The Personal Computer.

In the early 1980s, IBM (International Business Machines) came out with the first personal computer.  Additionally,the Plato computer was an early computer that was introduced to the education market as well.  Although schools did not yet have access to the Internet, the computer began to be used for a variety of learning purposes and as an eventual replacement for the typewriter when creating and completing reports and assignments. The CD-ROM.

The mid 1980s brought the first CD-ROM to the educational environment.  For the first time, students could store video and audio, as well as an entire encyclopedia on a single compact disk. The CD-ROM is still used with current computers, replaced the floppy disk and paved the way to the use of the flash drive for storage.

The Internet.

In the early to mid-1990s, the Internet was made available to the general public.  Prior to this time, it was solely used by the military, academic institutions, and NASA.  It was first introduced as a dial-up connection which occupied your telephone line.  It was also a very slow connection unlike the broadband connections of today and incapable of efficiently handling video.
The Interactive Whiteboard.

By the late 1990s, the blackboard was gradually getting replaced with an interactive whiteboard.  When first introduced, the whiteboard consisted of a white screen, computer, and projector.

 You Tube.
At the start of the 21st century, more classroom and educational institutions were becoming connected.  In 2004, YouTube was discovered as being an effective tool for classroom learning.  This allowed teachers to easily share free instructional videos and share videos associated with classroom projects.

The iPad.

Between 2007 and 2010, smartphones were beginning to increase in popularity and were widely used by students.  At this time, they were still not accepted as a classroom learning device until the inception of the iPad in 2010 which brought Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices to the forefront as a learning tool in the classroom.
Technology has also changed the role of the teacher.
Twenty years ago, the teacher was basically limited to providing class notes, showing a video, and using a limited variety of other tools to try and make learning fun and interesting.  With this, they were expected to reach a variety of learning styles simultaneously without the proper tools to help them accomplish this task.
Today, a teacher role has changed to facilitator and supporter as students collaborate and use apps that suit their learning style.  This enables the teacher to be more proactive about providing individual help when needed without having to worry about hindering other students in the classroom that are ahead in the learning process.
[1] http://www.ourict.co.uk/terms-of-use/


Use of Digital Tools for Students’ Learning and Technologies Historical Background

Hello, I am Carola Deinet-Knittel, and I am very engaged in how to use and set up Digital Learning for my students.
Being a person that didn’t grow up with any Digital related tools as student this topic is a new and also exciting one for me. When I started a few years ago at the International School of Stuttgart, I had hardly any experience to use a computer, laptop, Word, Powerpoint or White Boards. This has changed into the better the more I have been teaching at my current school. Digital Learning is highly valued there, and teachers are trained to use these tools. So-this is my honest opinion- you CAN’T refuse to use Digital Resources for young and older learners!!!
I chose two topics that are related to Digital Learning for students at my school.
1. As I  like to use outdoor experiences and the environment to be set up as another “Classroom” for students’ learning, I would like to introduce the Swabian Alp to you.



One of these is a GPS tour at our nearby outdoor environment, which is the Swabian Alp. The Swabian Alp is an area where students from all parts of the local environment, and the city of Stuttgart /Baden-Wuerttemberg, come and

have a visit there. There are quite famous places where you are allowed to dig for prehistorical animals, such as ammonites, snails and parts of dinosaurs, as we live on this terrain, where billions of years ago there was ocean everywhere.
2. The other part of my blog shows how Digital Learning has been developed throughout the last 500 to 600 years. As I am always excited to learn about some historical background related to topics (I am also a “Fleemarket”-person- always searching for tools that have historical background!) that is why I am excited to share these two links with you. When I had a look at the internet page below, I was fascinated how technology has been developed over several hundereds !!! of years. I haven’t had any knowledge related to history of technology in classrooms, and this page explains very well and easily, how digital learning has been taking place up to now. The historical background might be a good input into children’s understanding how digital learning has arrived in our classrooms.


I hope that you enjoy both the offered links.
Best regards Carola