Project-based learning (PBL) naturally lends itself to differentiated instruction. By design, it is student-centered, student-driven, and gives space for teachers to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways. PBL can allow for effective differentiation in assessment as well as daily management and instruction. PBL experts will tell you this, but I often hear teachers ask for real examples, specifics to help them contextualize what it "looks like" in the classroom. We all need to try out specific ideas and strategies to get our brains working in a different context. Here are some specific differentiation strategies to use during a PBL project.
As we all know, students already get plenty of tests, so why not let your students show what they learned creatively? Whether your students are reading independent books or your class has just finished a unit on space or pioneers, a culminating project can really cement that learning. Here are 72 fun and creative ways for your students to show what they know:
Differentiated instruction is a topic that raises many questions. How do we align achievement of learning outcomes with diverse student needs? How does a teacher navigate learning, cultural, and economic diversity? How can we get 100% of our students to the finish line properly? We are seeing the differences in learning styles and other factors that make classrooms more challenging. We are also faced with an expectation of all our students meeting standards. Let’s frame a perspective on differentiated instruction below.
All learners need time to process new ideas and information. They especially need time to verbally make sense of and articulate their learning with a community of learners who are also engaged in the same experience and journey.
In other words, kids need to talk!!
Problem is, sometimes it’s hard to stay on subject without a little guidance. That’s why structured discussions really work best with children, regardless of their maturity level.
These five techniques (and a little purposeful planning) go beyond the traditional Turn and Talk/Think-Pair-Share to give students an opportunity to deepen their understanding while practicing their verbal skills.
(This is the first post in a two-part series on differentiation) I posed this question last week: "What is the best advice you can give to a teacher about differentiating instruction?" I've shared my response in an Ed Week Teacher article that I've co-authored with my colleague, Katie Hull Sypnieski. It's titled "The Five By Five Approach To Differentiation Success." I'll limit my contribution here to sharing a useful link to The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction. Experts in the fiel
Cheryl Frose's insight:
"Don't do differentiation to them, do it with them" LOVE it!
I use a lot of Google Forms. We are using them for a few club applications this year. Both clubs are extremely popular, so we have to choose participants with a random drawing.
My need is simple – a tool that will automatically “draw” names from my Google Response sheet without me physically writing them down and putting them in a hat.
There are actually many tools for doing this. Richard Byrne, for example, recently posted about how to make a random name selector with Google Sheets and Flippity.net. Alice Keeler has got a great Random Student Chooser Template."
Jim Lerman's insight:
Don't miss Eicholtz's detailed directions on how to use Add-Ons for Google Sheets.
Most districts are now requiring teachers to provide data-driven differentiation. What can you do for those students who are labeled as gifted learners? If they are already high achievers, it can be difficult to help them reach a higher level of success. These tips will help you and your students achieve their goals and keep you from pulling your hair out!
Editor's Note: Back by popular demand! Originally this blog featured eleven ideas for using music in your lessons. But the post was so popular we've added 34 more ideas below -- all from our teachers on the Teacher HELPLINE! ! Enjoy!
*WeAreTeachers disclaimer- In the words of teacher Randolph M.: “Whatever songs I use, I make sure to preview and screen every one and I even imagine potential red- flag scenarios before using any song!”
How do we empower educators to personalize instruction for each student’s needs? We recognize that it’s very difficult to differentiate instruction for 25 students in a single classroom using a single textbook. The advent of advanced learning technologies empowers teachers to personalize instruction in ways never before possible. Teachers are at the heart of the revolution in education and designing new powerful, personalized learning experiences for students. Empowered with tools to help them succeed, teachers can expand access to digital content resources, pinpoint specific gaps in student learning, identify where a student is on their learning pathway, and provide the appropriate interventions to support students at just the right time.
In the first few years of my career, I never understood the nuances of differentiated instruction. When asked by administrators, teachers, or parents, I would confidently proclaim that I was indeed differentiating content, process, and products for all my students, and doing it well. Reality however, was different. If pressed on how I was doing it, I knew I would devolve into incoherent teacher-speak on providing flexible due dates, shorter assignments, and the like.
While these are wonderful and needed modifications and adaptations to provide students, it took me longer than I care to admit to become cognizant of the fact that my version of differentiation had little, if any, impact on student learning. After all, if a student does not yet possess the skill to incorporate a strong claim into argumentative writing, how will his learning be any different if I assign a three-paragraph paper instead of five paragraphs? Or if a student doesn't have a home life that supports schoolwork, how will allowing her extra time to complete an assignment provide any benefit? Finally, I realized that something needed to change.
Assessment Design: A Matrix To Assess Your Assessments... just throwing some verbs around as starters for “rigorous” tasks is not enough to address the first bullet concerning the challenge of the task. Rigorous tasks are a function of cognitive demand and situational complexity, not just the verb used. Self-assess against our audit matrix to test your tests...
Students learn when ready, but not everyone reaches that point simultaneously. Discover resources to help meet the readiness needs of all your students.
In education, all students must be successful, yet for various reasons, classrooms everywhere fall short of this objective. Equally true is that teachers come to work every day with a lesson plan that is intended to foster learning by addressing Content, Process, and Product.
Teachers want students to succeed and follow lesson plans that are intended to help them achieve. So why are some learners not meeting learning expectations?
Lesson planning and instruction of content, process, and product are only half of the equation. The other part is how students respond through readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Effective differentiation and, by extension, student learning, must make the tasks and focus appealing to students. They must believe that the activities are achievable and make sense. Later blog posts will address interests and learning profiles. Readiness is our focus here.
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