Sunday Panel: Differentiating Instruction

Sunday Panel StickyWhat are some specific ways that you are able to differentiate for the various learners in your classroom or subject area?

EllenBrain7 (1)

 Ellen Weber:
I encourage students to use their full range of stronger intelligences in class. I suggest tasks they can do to meet rubric criteria we set together.

To understand a new concept for instance, they might play with words, do crosswords, compete in scrabble, debate, search for new ideas on the internet, write a blog, tell their best idea in 140 letters, or offer to speak at a local club.

The choice to differentiate is the choice to grow brainpower and it takes less effort when students come to the table with their strengths as tools.

AlgebraSimplifiedIconDawn, Algebra Simplified:
A carefully crafted activity that has work geared for more than one ability level makes meeting the needs of all students at the same time much easier. Normally with these type of activities, the differentiation is so seamless that the students don’t even realize that it is happening. On the other hand, when differentiation is just obviously … well…different, student buy-in is key. I start with a class reminder of the benefits, a vote on who would like to experience the benefits, and an ardent request for student cooperation so that all can benefit.

LanguageArtsClassroomLauralee,The Language Arts Classroom:
1. Task cards. Students all have assignments, and only I know which cards are more difficult. If I distribute them with partners, this also helps.

2. Choices/ Goals. If I allow students to have personal choices or make specific goals, they are tailored to their own needs. I must approve of the goals, but as long as a student is working toward improvement, that counts. (This especially works well in public speaking. Students can personalize what will make them better speakers).

3. Specifics to world. Right now is election season. Discussing the class’ interests in advertising techniques, word choice, and picture choice for campaign mailers and other commercials allows students to bring their personal stories to the class. Students have different perspectives, and encouraging explanation empowers students to understand different points of view. Specifically, bringing the world to the classroom empowers students who may not normally contribute.

OC_BEACH_TEACHER_revised_finalKimberly, OC Beach Teacher:
In earlier posts this month, I mentioned using literature circles and choices to differentiate instruction. Besides those strategies, I have a few additional tools. For instance, with students who may need additional support in my class, I make simple adjustments to assignments: providing a word bank on a vocabulary worksheet, reducing the number of exercises on a grammar handout, or shortening the page requirement for an essay.

On the other hand, to provide additional challenges for students, I offer enrichment opportunities. For example, I recently offered extra points to students who took advantage of a vocabulary video contest at The New York Times Learning Network. Furthermore, I always share writing contest information for local and national competitions. Not only do my students benefit from the enrichment, but sometimes they even find themselves winning a contest!

How do YOU differentiate instruction?  Please share your ideas in the comments sections.

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