I love that my campus is full of educators who recognize the variances in students abilities. How completely overwhelming to look at 22 (or 44! or 66!) students and realize that in order to make instruction happen at their level, you’re going to have to make some instructional magic happen. We’re really focusing on a workshop model classroom, structuring all instruction around small groups. It’s a work in progress but here by week 5, I am already starting to see it happen!
When looking at ways to differentiate, if you’re not able to make a small group rotation happen, there is always the three C’s: choice, challenge, and change.
Choice: Whether it is a book at their level or a menu level activity, give students the opportunity to make a choice. Our kinder team worked out a BINGO style activity so that student could be directed to activities they NEEDED to complete, but options were fun enough that the others they wanted to complete. They can create items, whether it be digitally or kinesthetically. The level of engagement and ownership escalates with my first grader when she gets to CHOOSE what her activity work looks like. Even something as basic as flash cards vs an app on the iPad, if it was her choice, she’s more likely to stay all in.
Challenge: How can the activity that the class is working on be tweaked to be more challenging for some students? A Makerspace is a prime example of a station that allows students to be challenged. Allowing students to conduct research on a given topic, or being challenged to find a local “expert” for the class to connect with could also raise the bar on an activity. Technology allows for students to create way more creatively than a paper pencil exercise…from an explain everything video to having a twitter poll…students who feel like they are actively involved in the learning process through a classroom challenge will be more engaged and inherently, stay on task!
Change: Research shows that just making a change can allow for differentiation at times in the classroom. From what the student is asked to complete to the manner in which is delivered to them. What if you recorded instructions for a project/product and a group of students was allowed to receive their directions in that manner? What if one group created a game but another group created a quiz over the same content? I saw students today taking pictures of the different states of matter inside the classroom…what if one group of students were allowed to search outside of the room? An easy change that ups the complexity level of the activity…
Even within a PLC or planning session, it wouldn’t take too much extra time for a team to throw out several easy ways that an activity could be differentiated. How do you make this happen in your classroom or on your campus?