20 Ideas on Differentiation

Every student is their own brand of unique.  No classroom of more than two students will respond exactly the same way to the teacher, the lesson or the assessment.  A great teacher will have a “bag full of tricks” from which to pull in order to allow for each student to have a enriching experience.  Here is a peek inside of my bag.

1.) Alternate Assessment: One size fits all assessments are only beneficial to the teacher who is grading them.  Changing up the questions and tools can give a teacher a better idea of what is really being learned in their class.

2.) Reading Responses: I recently took a class where we were expected to respond to the assigned reading.  The great thing about that assignment is its simplicity.  The world was my oyster.  I could draw a picture, write a poem, take a photograph, tweet, write a review or whatever else my creative mind could dream up.  This allows for all types of learning preferences. DSC_0025

3.) Group / Solo work: There are some days when I need to brainstorm with a group in order to wrap my head around a concept.  Other days I know what I want to do and how I want to do it.  I think that students need to be given a choice.  Group work is fun for some and torture for others.  Some assignments need to have the choice of working alone on in a group attached to them.


4.) Writing Choice: The more a student can choose what they will write about the more likely they are to write well.  When a person is interested in the work they do, they will be more likely to learn about it.

5.) Audio books: Reading is a true struggle for many students.  That doesn’t mean that they cannot enjoy a good book. Readers that struggle, can still “read” and anyone who likes to have a story read to them will love them as well.

6.)Talk to text Software: Anyone who can talk can write with this kind of technology.  What a great way to offer independence to a student who cannot write for any reason.

7.) Digital Books: Not everyone can focus on black words on white paper.  We live in a world where that is no longer the only way to read.  With Digital books students can get screen time as well as get a book read. I carry a book with me at all times on the Kindle app on my phone.  I also use Overdrive so that I don’t spend a ton of money on books.

8.) Book Talks: Book talks are little advertisements for a book.  The great thing about them is that any student can recommend the book they enjoyed to others.  This works to involve everyone.

9.) Varied Products: No two students will pull the exact same things from a lesson.  Giving students freedom to show their learning in their own way allows each student to shine.  If every assignment is to write an essay then there are students who will never excel for one reason or another.  By allowing them a choice in what they turn in, every student can show their best.

10.) Graphic Novels: These are a great option for a reluctant reader. Allowing students to read a “comic book” in class not only makes them want to read, but may also raise your “cool” level as a teacher. The pictures help move the story ahead and help keep the reader interested.

11.) Conferences: Sitting down with each student to find out where they are in their learning shows that student that you are interested in them as a person as well as giving you the opportunity to get to know  what you need to do to help them succeed.

12.) Image Prompts: A picture is worth a thousand words.  Each person reacts to things in their own way.  Assigning a journal response to an image allows students to share the piece of themselves with which they are most comfortable.

13.) Notebooks: A class journal gives each student choice in what they share about what they are learning as well as what is going on in their lives. These give the teacher an opportunity to get to know their students as people as well as what they are learning.

14.) Passing notebooks: Allowing your students to read each other’s work and comment on it, gives each student a new perspective of their own writing as well as allowing everyone to “play teacher.” This is a great way to group students that may not normally group themselves.

15.) Great books for every level and interest: As an avid Fiction lover I can forget that students may be more likely to enjoy Non-fiction Reading instead.  There are also great picture books on the market that I enjoy. Finding the right book for a student is very important.  Maybe I should call this point “A Great Classroom Library” instead.

16.) Varied Media: No one likes the same flavor day in and day out. Changing up the format of a class has the potential to reach more learning styles and keep the attention of your students because they are never sure what is coming next. A video one day and then a lecture and then an activity will reach more kids than just lecturing every day.

17.) Book Club: This is another way to get kids connected with other kids about school work.  This fits into choice again.

18.) Reading Choice: I cannot say enough about giving students choice.  No one likes to be assigned reading.  There are many ways to “skin a cat” as my Grandpa used to say. Allowing students to choose what they read allows students to read something in which they are interested as well as at a level they can excel.

19.) Timed Homework: Assigning 20 min of honest study time is much more fair than assigning a page of problems to answer.  A student that is a high achiever may blow through the page in five min and it may take another student 3 hours.  Giving a time to study levels the playing field.

20.) Reader’s theater: This gets everyone involved.  Even those who are not reading get to watch those who are performing.  This gets students involved using more of their brain than just looking at words.  It gets them up and moving, hearing the story and they can see the words as it is being read.

*21.) Being Authentic: This one is BONUS! However, it might be the most important.  Kids know when you are faking.  Know your stuff, Love students, and teach with integrity this is how to change the world.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s