Sunday, October 30, 2016

Differentiation Made Easy

Happy Sunday friends!! I hope you are having a restful weekend...especially since tomorrow is Monday AND Halloween. Yikes!

I wanted to pop on today and share with you about differentiation and how I achieve it in my classroom. Differentiation is extremely important and especially for me this year since I am teaching a first and second grade combination class. However, differentiation is something that can be tricky to achieve. It's no secret...we are BUSY and differentiation can take a lot of specific planning and prep. It can be overwhelming and sometimes, it can be something we just push to the back burner or try to add on the fly. Does that sound familiar??? Well...fear not!! I have a solution for you!


I am going to share with you how I differentiate for my students while teaching spiders. However, you can do the same thing with ANY content that you are teaching!

First off, we start with our general instruction...inputing the content for students to learn.


Our spider unit starts off with a pictorial. As we are going through this pictorial, I draw it as I talk about each part, the students are taking notes. They can draw and label or write words and sentences. Whatever strategy is developmentally appropriate of them is what they use. We do a lot of turning and talking and sharing out about what they just heard.


On another day, we follow the same process only about different types of spiders and where you will find them. Just by changing the way students are keeping track of the information, whether writing or drawing and labeling, is differentiating for their needs. They are learning the content and keeping track of it in a way that will help them internalize the information.

Now comes the easy part...are you ready?!?!?


LEVELED PASSAGES!!!! 

Now, I don't mean just ANY leveled passages...you can find a lot of passages that say leveled. Usually, they don't actually correspond with a level. They are usually just a low, medium and high. This is great, but doesn't work for me. I know what level my kids are reading and when I am trying to get them to learn the content and support their understanding, I need them to be working at their INDEPENDENT level. And, quite frankly, I don't want to have to take the time to read through the low, medium and high passages to figure out who is where. TOO MUCH WORK!

The leveled passages we have are actually LEVELED to Fountas and Pinnell levels. They are the EXACT SAME CONTENT. That means, I can have students working together and learning about spiders together, even if they are working at different levels.


These are both second graders. One is reading at H/I and one is reading at C. They are reading together, yes the words vary because the levels are different, but they are reading the same content. I often have them take turns reading their passages to each other. That way they hear the information twice.


Once they have read their passage, they can work together to answer the text dependent questions. The question page is the SAME for each level and the students can answer all the questions, no matter what level they are reading.

Then, to take it even further, I add leveled quick reads to my comprehension center! Boom! More spider content, in a different form, that students can read and learn about at their independent level.


Once again, students can work in partners to learn about spiders. They are getting so much information and they are able to access it easily. It's high interest and helps them to be and feel successful because they can work independently on work that is exactly the same! They don't feel different from each other. There is no worry about the high kids having one task, while the on grade level students have a different task, and the below grade level students have a task different from the other two levels.


Differentiation is extremely important for all students. It helps all students to be successful and feel proud of themselves. Friends, it doesn't have to be scary and hard! If you haven't yet, you should give leveled passages a try. Click HERE to find many different topics of leveled passages. You can also try leveled quick reads. They are great for centers and independent work but they have so many other uses as well. Click HERE to check them out.

I hope this helps you to take a load off your plate when differentiating for your learners!! It sure has helped me out a TON!!

Have a great week:)

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