Differentiation on a Daily Basis.
Differentiation has always felt overwhelming. Daily differentiation felt far beyond my reach. Our entire district has been working through Gayle Gregory and Martha Kaufeldt’s Best Practices at Tier 1: Daily Differentiation for Effective Instruction. (Tier 1) This text comes in an elementary and a secondary edition. Our district also sent a small group to a two-day workshop presented by the authors. As a result, I learned that daily differentiation is about good instruction. It takes some planning and students have to be taught how to manage their learning and behavior, but it isn’t the daunting challenge that I thought it was.
Here are my Key Takeaway’s from the text and the training:
- Give students choices in how they learn and in how they show they learned it. The choices should include multiple intelligences. If one choice is really important, make it a “must do” and then prescribe how many more choices students are expected to complete. When assigning vocabulary, give students six “must learn” words and let them add four words that they want to learn—from a list you provide or of their own choosing.
- Explicitly teach students how to behave when learning alone, with a partner, in a small group and in a whole class setting.
- Some learners may need up to 24 practices to get to 80% mastery while others may only need a couple. Know your students.
- Push students to represent their learning visually. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it processes text. Use graphic organizers, concept maps, games, pictographs, fold-ables. (In the training, we used a single sheet of paper to make an eight-page mini-book with one page for each of the intelligences. Check out Pinterest for lots of ideas.)
- Be strategic when assigning homework. It should require students to practice, review and apply new learning OR be a quick read/video on the next day’s learning as part of flipped instruction. Have a plan for slacker students—have them sit and finish their homework while the rest of the class moves to stations that go deeper into the learning topic.
- Use technology to provide choice to students.
- Post QR codes that take students to articles, websites and videos.
- Have students make their own “Quizlet” or “Kahoot.”
My next steps:
- Dive more deeply into the “Tier 1” text.
- Dig into Marzano’s Big 9 Instructional Strategies.
- Start with one vocabulary strategy such as a vocab foldable. Add Frayer Model. Teach students how to make and use a cootie catcher. Then use the cootie catcher as a “must do” and give students the choice between the foldable or the Frayer model. Continue building strategies and giving students more choices.
- PERSIST. A failure on the first attempt to use a teaching strategy is just the first step. I might need 24 trials to get to mastery.
- Visit an INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL CLASSROOM and see the experts at learning centers work their magic.
This work is a journey, not an event. Baby steps lead to leaps and bounds.
Married to Larry, an old Coast Guard salt and amazing man.I get to share Larry with our yellow lab, Sherman.
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