Do you have a power outfit? You know, that one you pull out when you need to feel your absolute best? It fits perfectly and you never feel quite as good in anything else? You save it for the times you need the absolute best luck you can get? How about the back pocket lesson? That lesson never skips a beat. You could teach it in your sleep and it’d go as beautifully as expected. So you keep it in your toolbox for those emergency teaching days. Or maybe an ultimate parenting strategy? That special reward that works for your child so well you keep in reserved for most detrimental times. I have these things in my life. Recently, I found one more thing to add to the list – my power graphic.
Now this sounds silly, I realize that. No, I’m not hoarding my favorite comic book. And I haven’t locked up my favorite fonts and images to be used ONLY for my sister’s wedding invitations. Instead, I have a different kind of graphic – a picture- that I save up to use when I absolutely have to make my point. My point being that when it comes to achieving CCSS, fair is not equal. Differentiation is not only okay, but necessary for student achievement.
As you look at the picture above, ask yourself:
· Who are the students?
· How does each student feel in either scenario?
· What is the fence?
· What are the blocks?
· In an ideal classroom, who was responsible for providing the blocks?
· Who are the players?
· Who are the fans?
Remember I called this my power graphic? It is not because I think it’s a secret to be hidden. This is my power graphic because when I plan lessons, I always consider how each student will reach standard. This thought becomes overwhelming. When I get inundated with stress over how to reach every student, I pull this picture out (I keep it right on the cover of my lesson plan binder). It provides me with not only motivation to get creative, but also with the sense that every one of my students deserves to be in a classroom where their needs are met so that they, too, can see the baseball game.
In the event that somebody I’m talking to doesn’t understand the importance of providing the scaffolds necessary for each students experience success, even if that means different instructional practices (this usually happens with my friends not in education!), showing this graphic solves the problem. When talking with students about, “fair isn’t always equal,” this graphic works wonders if discussed during the first week of school. Then all year long, all it takes is the reminder, “Do you remember the baseball game?” when a student starts whining incessantly about something not being ‘fair’ for them to say, “Oh, yeah!”
In my classroom and building, some ways to reach the needs of all students in reaching the ELA CCSS include:
· GLAD instructional strategies
· Strong collaboration through PLCs
· Whole class grade-level instruction
· Small group leveled intervention instruction (Walk to Read)
· ‘Triple Dip’ periods for students needing additional one-on-one support
· Before or after school club tutoring
· Enrichment activities
· Adapted assignments for students
· Assignment menu for some lessons and units wherein students may pick the best way for them to show mastery
· Deliberate student pairings and/or groupings
· Aligned classwork and homework – in terms of content and form
What are some things you do in your classroom to help differentiate for all students? Write to us in the comments. We’d like to know!
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.