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- Golden Road to Success in Kindergarten- A Guide for Parents - March 17, 2015
- Differentiation in Science and Social Studies: 3 Things to Keep in Mind - January 7, 2015
- Social Studies Educational Apps 101 - December 4, 2014
- 5 Things They Don't Tell You in College About Teaching - November 26, 2014
- Celebrating Students: 3 Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Show Support - November 11, 2014
- How to Focus Instruction: Two Ways to Easily Increase Rigor - October 31, 2014
- Trouble Student: 4 Things Every Teacher Should Do Before Putting A Child in Time Out - October 28, 2014
- The 5 Things Every Parent Can Do to Help their Child Become a Better Reader in Elementary - April 22, 2014
- 5 Tips from a Veteran Teacher: Surviving Your First Year - March 25, 2014
A common occurrence across the country is taking students and grouping them by abilities in order to better meet their needs. It is a perfect sounding theory. But once those students are grouped by ability, are they all exactly the same? Absolutely not.
So, exactly how do you differentiate for those students within a similar population? Here are 3 things that I have learned over the years.
-Learning Styles: Remember that wonderful Dr. Howard Gardner that we all read about in college? He had a theory that every person has what are called multiple intelligences. These are the best ways for you to learn. As you get to know your students at the beginning of the year, think about having your classes take a multiple intelligence survey. I promise it will help you know if Jimmy will learn better by getting up and moving during group work or allowing him an iPad and an independent study pack.
For more reading on Multiple Intelligences, check out Walter McKenzie's book, Multiple Intelligences and Instructional Technology.
-Gender: Keep in mind gender. I promise this is not a bad thing that I am saying. Especially by the time kids get to 5th grade, there are BIG differences in boys vs girls. Their interests at this age extends out into the classroom as well. For example, most boys like more of a 'doing' type activity like experiments. Most girls tend to lean more towards the 'seeing' or 'drawing' and would love a great diagram and opportunity to explain what they know. Now, please notice I used the word 'most' and not 'all'. A perfect remedy to a situation where you feel like not all of your students is going to 'master' the activity? Do them both or even make it a choice. Allow your students to have a say and poll them the day before. You could also explore using choice boards in your classroom.
-Activities: This year I teach 3 class periods for each subject. Now, with reading and language arts you can easily pick a different novel or text to use to teach the reading strategies. But with Science and Social Studies, I have set standards and information that they ALL simply must master and learn before moving on to 6th grade. I use teaching strategies like 'Turn and Talk' and 'Jigsaws' for those who need to explore it together. My higher groups get a bit more independence where they have to find the main idea and supporting details of a section. Then they have to share and teach the rest of us.
Bottom line, when you are differentiating you should be answering these three questions: Is this the best thing for my students? Will it meet their needs? How will I know?
If you can answer all three of those, then you my friend are differentiating for your students.