12 Reasons Why I Differentiate

12 Reasons Why I Differentiate

 Why should we differentiate?
Beyond the obvious that is we have kids in our room that
would not be successful if we did not differentiate then there are many other
reason why we should do it too.
1.
Every student is different
2.
Engagement leads to success
3.
Helps our most vulnerable students
4.
Sets students up for the  21st learning environment
5.
Flexiblity is more valuable than rigidity

Here is why I differentiate

Well in all reality I have to.  In the past five years I have yet to have a
classroom where the majoirity of my students were working at the same
level.  Differentiation does not mean
that I only do this for regular stream vs special education stream students. It
mean to do it for all students.
In a combined great classroom that has more than 50% of boys
spanning over to grades.   With an
average of one third requiring special education needs  not including a variety of mental health
issues, differentiation becomes very important.

Why I differentiate

I differentiate
because it makes my life easier.
When I differentiate I have less classroom management issues,  more work is completed,  student like learning,  and I can reach more students easily without
planning multiple activities for the same learning task.
I differentiate because it lets me watch a student who is completely
disengaged with writing who refuses to write become one of my most creative
writers.
I differentiate because it allows me to see the student
hiding in the corner for who she really is a fun creative and engaging kid who
has a lot of value to add but in her own way.
I differentiate because boys learn differently than girls
and to not understand this means alienating more than 50% of my class.
I differentiate because I teach two grades at once so I need to understand that all of the students in my class are starting from a different starting point.  Not doing this would mean pulling my hair out.  I don’t have time to plan 2-6 different seperate lesson for each period to meet the needs of all my students so instead I plan one and make it open ended with multiple entry points so that it is accessible for all of my students.  Plan once, flexible delivery, multiple entry and exit points, everyone learning.
I differentiate because when kids are bored they act out. They’re smart, why would they want to do something if it doesn’t somehow connect
with what they’re supposed be learning.
They can see through busywork and they need a purpose for learning.
I differentiate because in the world that we are living in
collaboration, communication, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and
more are essential skills the students need to develop in order to be
successful in their future world
I differentiate because the parents of my lowest achieving
students just want what’s best for their kids and they cry when their kids are
labeled with special education needs.
By differentiating I can show them the special-education diagnosis is
not a life sentence
.   Their children can
and will achieve when given the correct supports in the classroom.
I differentiate because I like to see students become
confident
in their ability. And accept that they may learn differently but can
still learn.  
It is a powerful door that is opened for their potential.  Recognizing that all students can achieve is a core belief that is essential when working
with students.  Although I may not be
able to breakthrough all barriers that inhibit student success,  and I may not be the person to do this for
every student, I try. And with some success I am able to make a difference for
those that are ready.
I differentiate because I want to show students how they can
differentiate  for themselves to advocate
for their own learning.   When a student
understands how they learn, you make it possible to advocate for themselves.  They can then better access what is
being presented to them independently.  This makes the student’s life the life of their future
teachers easier.
I differentiate because being flexible and accommodating is
actually much easier than being rigid and inflexible. The simple act of being flexible
in the classroom, although difficult at first to shift to this mindset in the
classroom, in practice makes teaching, planning and learning easier.  Inquiry is an amazing approach to teaching
and learning and I would encourage you to walk through the fire and see what
amazing things can happen when you give it a try.
I differentiate because it makes a difference.  I make a difference.  It helps my students make a difference.  And this is essentially why I became a
teacher.  Differentiation makes me a
better teacher. 

Join the Conversation

Why do you differentiate.
Hop on over to my Facebook page and join in on the conversation by
finishing this sentence.

 

I differentiate because…

 

 

What is Differentiated Instruction?

What is Differentiated Instruction?

What is differentiated instruction? You've heard the term, but does it mean? Click through to find out what it is, and how it's like bowling!

If you teach in a classroom today than you are familiar with the term Differentiation.  And if you are like me you may have a love hate relationship with this term.

Classrooms today are complex and trying to teach to the individual instead of the group feels overwhelming. One of my of the realities of my teaching job depends on my ability to differentiated instruction.

What is differentiated instruction? You've heard the term, but does it mean? Click through to find out what it is, and how it's like bowling!

For the month of March I invite you to join me as I dig deeper into

  1. What differentiation means in the classroom
  2. How to do it effectively without pulling your hair out.

 

A bit about why

As a classroom teacher of a combined grade class with often a high proportion of students with special education needs I am no stranger to a difficult class that comes to me at all different levels.  Being that it is just me in the classroom with all of my students I have learned some tips and tricks to differentiate and hone my skills in order to survive.

As a result I have become one of those crazy teachers that actually enjoys teaching splits and this is primarily because it helps to support differentiated instruction.

What is differentiated instruction? You've heard the term, but does it mean? Click through to find out what it is, and how it's like bowling!

Differentiation and bowling?

In my research into digging deeper into differentiation I discovered a lot of connections between teaching and bowling.  I think when most people go out for a fun night of bowling they try to throw the ball right down the middle.

“Try to roll the ball down the middle and get most of the students.”

But if we bowl or teach like this then we are missing the point of differentiation.  Shelley Moore has looked into this further and when talking to pro bowlers she found that they don’t aim for the middle but aim for the pins that are hardest to knock down.  She has helped me to instead look at this comparison to bowling differently.

“Teaching is like bowling because in order to knock down all the pins you need try to knock down the hardest to hit pins first.”  – Adapted from Shelley Moore

So what does it mean?

Differentiation is good for all but necessary for some and this is why when planning you should plan with the hardest to reach students first and understand that some of the things you might do to teach these hard to reach students will work for all kids even the ones in the middle.

Ways to differentiate

According to Carol Ann Tomlinson. There are four ways that you can differentiate a learning task for your students.  You can differentiate
o the product
o the process
o the content
o the environment

Learn more

In my first video in my differentiated instruction series I outline what differentiation is and what key values are important for teacher to begin to differentiate.  We dig deeper into ways lessons or projects can be differentiated and factors that are important to consider when differentiation.  Also in this video series I have included a complimentary companion guide which gives a page overview of the four components to differentiate and a differentiated weekly planning page to help you keep your differentiation strategies in the front and center when you plan.

 

If you like this video please like it and share it with others via facebook, twitter, or pinterest.

Sign Up for More

Stay tuned for more differentiated instruction videos and blog posts all month here on my blog.  If you want to subscribe to get these great ideas delivered right to your email inbox please fill out your info below so I can send it to you.

What is differentiated instruction? You've heard the term, but does it mean? Click through to find out what it is, and how it's like bowling!

 

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