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Improving Schools: What Works?
February 12, 2015 | Volume 10 | Issue 11
Table of Contents
Differentiating Without Drowning
In today's classrooms of 25 or more students from diverse backgrounds, teachers strive to quickly become differentiation experts as well as subject area instructional experts. While doing so, they have to keep up with the building schedule, curriculum pace, and the overall best interests of the students they serve. Despite our best efforts, we have all experienced that one student who sits through class, day after day, not receiving the best we have to offer because we are overwhelmed or aren't even sure how to help. We know differentiating instruction and learning (Tomlinson, 1999) will help us reach each of our students, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. To avoid differentiating on the fly, or spending hours scripting lessons to anticipate any possible student needs, make one simple change to your lesson planning: focus differentiation on three areas of weakness for two target students. Here's how to get started:
If you can do this once a week, you will eventually create an evolving, differentiated approach to your current instructional practice. Every year, you will add to your repertoire of instructional modifications, and you will see more of your students being included in the awesome learning environment you have created in your classroom.
Bender, W.N., & Crane, D. (2011). RTI in math: Practical guidelines for elementary teachers. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Small, M. (2009). Good questions: Great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the need of all learners. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Charlotte Foster is a member of the teacher education faculty at Missouri Western State University.
ASCD Express, Vol. 10, No. 11. Copyright 2015 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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