I’ve been thinking a lot about differentiation and how to make it better in the classroom. I know I’ve thought ‘where do I start?’ I think differentiation can start slowly and in one area. After time, adding one layer of differentiation can happen and then before you know it, you have a well-running differentiated machine…I mean classroom. 🙂
I thought I would round up the 7 ways to differentiate in the classroom that I know of. If you have more ideas, please be sure to add them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
1. Learning Styles. There are 6 main learning styles: Kinesthetic, Visual, Auditory, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Logical. Most students can be a hybrid of a few different styles. It’s always a good idea to present information in a variety of ways as well as have students practice independently in a variety of ways.
2.Tiering. Not only do students come to us with different learning styles, they also come to us with different background information. It is not that they can’t retain the information, they just don’t know about it yet. Sometimes I hear teachers say it is always the same students who don’t know the information or who DO know the information. Here’s the thing. Not always. AND for those middle kiddos….we don’t want them to fall through the cracks. Our middle kiddos are going to come to us knowing some things and not knowing some things. That is why it is so important to preassess. I believe tiering comes during independent practice.
3.Questioning. We can go wider and/or deeper in our questions. By deeper I mean, going through the levels of Bloom’s questioning. From a factual/stated question to a evaluate/analyze question. By going ‘wider’, I mean 2 and 3 step thinking processing in order to determine the question. Questioning is never ‘more questions’. We wouldn’t tell a student to complete 20 questions instead of 10, but instead we would add 2 ‘deeper’ questions within those 10. Does that make sense? I hope so!
4.Environment. From flexible seating to lighting, we can vary the classroom so the students can work in their optimal environment.
5.Grouping. From whole group lessons to small groups to pairs, we can offer a variety ways of presenting (teaching) and practicing the information.
6.Outcomes. We can vary the required assignments. From different products to assessments.
7.Timing. Not my favorite way to differentiate. I think it would be awesome if everyone would have whatever time they needed to complete the assignment. However, that is just not reality in a lot of cases. Not all but a lot. In the real world, there are deadlines and as students get older (and are in high school), there are deadlines. So we have to set them up for success. That means practicing now. You can differentiate by challenging students to complete an assignment within a certain time frame.
And there you have it. 7 ways to differentiate in the classroom. If you aren’t sure where to begin, I created this resource, ORGANIZED DIFFERENTIATION, to help you get to know your students better. You sort and identify their top learning styles along with easy grouping strategies. I truly hope it helps! Head HERE to see more.