Sunday, October 25, 2009


Differentiating instruction is what every teacher should do. In public schools we are given cookie cutter curriculum that doesn't fit the class that we have. The lessons are based on the average student their age. In a regular classroom some students are passed that lesson and some aren't ready for the lesson. Gifted students can not be expected to fend for themselves or wait around for there peers to catch up. The purpose of differentiating is to ensure that all students succeed. This type of instruction worked in my classroom and I believe it can work in yours. If you need more information about differentiating in the classroom please take a look at Carol Ann Tomlinson Website;

Compacting Out

What compacting out is providing gifted students with the opportunity to skip over lessons that they have mastered and work on a ending project they would share with the rest of the class. For example; I had a group of students that mastered the letter Dd they could identify the capital and lowercase letters, write the letter, and identify the words that begin with that letter. The students would participate with the whole class when we learned the letter of the week song and reviewed sight words. During the time in which we reviewed the letter Dd the students would work in the back with my aid on their ending project. The students had decided to make a song about words that begin and end with Dd. The aid helped the students finish the song and on Friday the students sung their song to the entire class. Compacting out helped my gifted students excel and gave them the opportunity to move forward without having to wait on their peers to get where they were.

Step 3

The next step is to creat lessons that benefit all students. Incorporate the different ways that students learn in your lesson. In my lesson I included learning styles that benefited my class. For a lesson on letters I included movement when reciting the letters (standing up for capital letters and getting low when saying lowercase letters, singing letter of the week and color word songs, using technology (computers, projectors, etc.. ), and taking nature walks to find objects or things that started with that letter. When designing center work for students it was also important that my high achieving students not be given worksheets or activities that didn't help them master new information or reviewed things that they had previously mastered. I allowed the students to compact out.

Step 2

After creating a pre and post-assessment I decided to group my students but not like normal teachers group. I did not group students in mixed ability levels. I placed students with other students who were at their level. This cut down cheating and higher students being frustrated trying to help a peer. It also help me to challenge the ones who were high without making other students feel bad and to help those who were low without having to walk around the room looking for who might need help.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Step 1

Differentation is a way to make sure all students reach their greatest potential at their own pace. The first step to differentiation is assessments informal and formal. Find out where your students are and what helps them learn information. During the school year the first thing I did was find out where my students were currently. After that I observed my students to find out what helped them grasp what I was trying to teach them. Some of my students could learn by rote memory, singing songs, and movement. After figuring out where your students are write down where you want them to be. Create an assessment or ending project that will show the mastered that information. For my kindergarten students I wanted them to be able to identify capital and lowercase letters, letter sounds, and words that begin with a particular letter. The first thing I did was to assess what they knew currently. Than I wrote plans for my students. On the plans I put where I wanted them to be by the end of the week. Each week we would work on a different letter and I wanted my students to master different things about the letter. I than created an assessment that could be used for all letters to help students show me they mastered that particular letter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Keep This in Mind

In Carol Ann Tomlinson book she talks about a teacher who explains to his students the levels they would be placed in. He had the students bring in the time they learned how to walk. One student learned how to walk at 9 months and another student learned how to walk at 1 years he old. He then asked the class did it matter what time they learned to walk. The class said no, it only matters that they learn how to walk. He then explained everyone doesn't learn something at the same time. It takes some students a short amount of time and some may need a longer time to grasp a concept. It doesn't matter how long it takes just that you learn it. That is something I always keep in mind when I teach. I don't make my students fill bad if they don't know the information yet and I don't hold my students back that know the information. Would you still teach the concept of crawling and pulling yourself up to stand to a child who has mastered walking. Why do we as teachers tend to do that to gifted students? If you keep this concept in mind it will help you better understand that the activities we use in class should be designed to help students master information. By giving students who have mastered information more work or harder work on the same concept you are not helping them excel or succeed.

What is Differentiation?

Differentiation is not an easy concept to master. It takes teachers years to get the concept. The first step to becoming a teacher who can differentiate is to learn what it is/what it is not. A good book to start with is "How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms" by Carol Ann Tomlinson. This book breaks down what it looks and ideas you can incorporate in your classroom.
Differentiation is not teaching every student something different or homogeneous grouping; placing students in ability groups and keeping students in that group even when they have mastered a subject. Another misconception about differentiation is that if you give students complex questions or advanced topics on the same subject every one else is working on you are differentiating. This is not true.
Differentiation is providing students with different learning options and expressing learning so that it meets the needs of the various types of learners in your classroom. Students can learn information linguistically, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal and intrapersonal. When differentiating the teacher but must have knowledge of the learners needs. Students will succeed if the instruction fits different kinds of learners.
Teachers must also remember that instruction for each learner should be qualitative, based on assessments, provides various approaches to students understanding the content (what is learned), process (how students make sense of ideas), and product (how the show what they know), is student centered, not a cookie cutter lesson (found/based on a norm classroom), and includes whole class, group and individual instruction. I know a lot of people are thinking that it can't be done or it might be chaotic. It is not though. It takes a while to master but once the teacher masters the concept their classroom runs very smoothly. I used Carol Ann Tomlinson book and the idea of Differentiation in my classroom last year and 100 percent of my students reached their individual grade level target.