Differentiated Instruction: 5 Quick Tips For A Simpler Classroom

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Jose KevoBy Heather M. Stocker, TeachThought Intern

A few years ago “differentiation” was the buzz word of choice around local school systems. Teachers were concerned about the time involved in all that specialized education and how would we make our grade books match up with what kids were doing in reality? Such concerns have fallen by the wayside as these teachers put their creativity in action. For new teachers, here are a few tips for keeping your sanity while still meeting individual needs.

Differentiated Instruction: 5 Quick Tips For A Simpler Classroom

1. Don’t grade every bit of paper. Grading every piece of paper is quite time consuming and difficult.

2. Respond to students as individuals and offer choices. Often the best ideas for class activities come directly from students. They often inspire assignments which highlight music or art activities. Students are incredibly creative—especially when in group discussions.

3. Ask students what they need. Students are pretty smart. If you ask them what they need, they’ll often tell you. A class discussion on testing ideas will give you fresh perspective and new ways of assessing. You’re ultimately the expert, so you can tweak what the kids tell you and get some solid assessing completed.

4. Don’t differentiate every lesson, every day. Rather build upon your differentiation from one year to the next.

5. Build differentiation with a buddy. Co-planning often means less work for each teacher and increased creativity in assignments and assessments.

Differentiation is not easy. It helps to talk to other teachers and see what they have. Beg and borrow from other teachers, tweak and re-invent and before too long you’ll have all manner of assessments that students can choose from.

Image attribution flickr user josekevo