Let's put our cards on the table right away...Differentiation is not a BUZZ word. Differentiation is here to stay.
I believe educators want to differentiate and meet students' needs. I just don't think all educators know how. So this is my follow-up to John Sougstad's presentation on the need to differentiate.
First, as an educator you need to be willing to fail. You will have days when you miss the target, but you can learn from those mistakes and improve.
Second, start small. If you attempt to overhaul you will feel overwhelmed.
Third, truly understand your students! What makes them tick? What are their triggers? What are their passions? To find this out give your students surveys, conference with them one-on-one, go to their extracurricular events, pay close attention to the books they read, and analyze their body language.
Fourth, review the data. It's vital to have a clear picture of your students' strengths and weaknesses. Analyze test scores, formative assess daily, conference and pay close attention to student confidence.
Fifth, give students choices. Choices allow for independence and ownership. This includes book choices, writing topics and flexibility to work with others or solo.
Sixth, as I've mentioned, differentiation can occur in your delivery methods or how students show what they know. This greatly depends on your comfort level. You can adjust the content for students. You can also adjust the activities the students do. As far as students showing what they know, the options are infinite. My suggestion is to think about the multiple intelligences. I tried to give suggestions to students based on the multiple intelligences. My suggestions were always designed to encourage, not enable.
Seventh, collaborate with others. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they were busy...let's just say I'd be running on the beaches of Maui! Resources are all around us. They could be across the hall, on twitter, checking out blogs, looking at iTunesU and that is only scratching the surface. If you think you're the only one that is dealing with differentiation you're wrong. Every educator is trying to meet student needs.
Eighth, ask for feedback. Student engagement will tell you "most" of what you need to know. I also think it would be beneficial to ask colleagues, parents, students and administrators for constructive feedback on how differentiation looks in your classroom. If you have a willingness to ask that shows a "Growth" Mindset.
Ninth, enjoy your planning and preparation. Differentiation takes time and a passion to plan. The days of a ONE-SIZE LESSON are gone. Years ago you may have been able to complete lesson plans in a short amount of time. It you are intent on meeting students at their instructional level, the planning will take time. The Boy Scout motto is - Be Prepared!
Tenth, don't give up if it doesn't work! Anything worth doing is worth doing well. The best things in life take hard work. My favorite is - F.A.I.L. - First Attempt In Learning
Some examples of differentiation include Project Based Learning, Genius Hour, Open-Ended Science Projects, Free Writing (open topic), reading by interest/passion.
Differentiation in the classroom takes time. Let's not lose sight of the goal which is, What's Best for Kids. I'm positive that we all can admit that meeting students at their level is what is best for kids!
If nothing else I hope that differentiation has you thinking...has you reflecting. Are you meeting all student needs? I remember my first couple years in the classroom. I remember believing that the mark of a good teacher was to have grades ranging from A's to D's. This range showed that I was challenging, it proved I wasn't a pushover in the classroom. How wrong I was! Shouldn't my goal have been to have all students succeed? Every classroom has a wide variety of academic levels, but this isn't about equal, this is about helping all students be successful.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? I'd love to hear feedback on how you differentiate the learning in your classroom.
This Week's Big Question: What does differentiation look like in your classroom/school?
NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Saturday, March 8th: Happy BDay to Jen Reed
Sunday, March 9th: Happy BDay to Micki Archer
Monday, March 10th: 1:1 Tech Meeting at 1:15pm
Monday, March 10th: Minecraft Club 4pm-5pm
Tuesday, March 11th: Lockdown in the PM (last week's was cancelled because of the assembly)
Tuesday, March 11th: Minecraft Club 4pm-5pm
Wednesday, March 12th: Assembly grades K-2
Wednesday, March 12th: Minecraft Club 3pm-4pm
Wednesday, March 12th: String Team after school
Thursday, March 13th: Reading Logs Due
Thursday, March 13th: Happy BDay to Lisa Prichard
Thursday, March 13th: Happy BDay to Lisa Prichard
Friday, March 14th: SportsWear/College Gear dress-up day
Friday, March 14th: Emily Sioma our Jackson Rosequeen Visits in the PM
Articles Worth Reading:
Global Connections Made Possible Through Technology +Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal
We'll Be Counting Stars @Jonharper70bd
How are you telling your classroom or school story? @BrandEDPodcast @Joesanfelippofc @TonySinanis
Videos Worth Watching:
Did You Know 2014! Powerful...just watch! (8 min)
Brotherly Love! If you want to see a touching story of love, determination and teamwork this is it! (10 min)
Need some inspiration? Check this 4 min clip out!
Troy Gilpin's #iCreate song (2 min)