How do you differentiate instruction in your classroom?
I know that we all do it when we can – offering different options for assignments, differential seating plans, the opportunity to work alone or within a group, the choice of reading this novel or that novel: Differentiation! We do it all of the time – probably without much thought.
I’m just starting a new chapter in Social Studies and I’m taking a different approach. I asked the students ahead of time, what they’d rather do: Create a collage, write a letter, draw a map, perform a role play, draw to represent something, make a game…and so on. I also asked them if they’d rather work alone, with a partner or a group. The information that I got back was SO helpful!
What I did, was go through my current Social Studies chapter. I broke the chapter down into tiny pieces. There were 3 students who wanted to make a map and three significant maps in this chapter: BOOM! Group 1. Three others wanted to do a collage - there is a section on the “Metis” that totally lends itself to a collage: BOOM! Group 2. There is a section on Louis Riel which is quite appropriate for a role play…and so on.
Each group, pair or individual has a small section of the text that they are responsible for. Modified students are in groups and so have had help with reading the text. They also are completing a small part of a larger task and so it builds in success for them.
Students will all present their small pieces, in order, thus “teaching” us the chapter. There are 2 groups creating games for the chapter and so when we play these – they’ll also be built-in opportunities to assess. I’ll be using a rubric to assess the groups’ basic understanding and knowledge of their section as well as what they are presenting – role play, drawing etc. Based on their piece and their oral explanation, I’ll be able to assign a mark. Reading strategies are at play here as well, as we’ve been working on summarizing in LA most recently. I feel like I’m killing two birds with one stone!
I’ll also be requiring students to assess themselves on how they worked in their group and how their group members worked. Finally, the students will all have to write a reflection based on what they learned in the chapter - not only from their “section” but from the other students’ presentations.
I hope to post updates and pictures as they’re available on this little project. The kids are fairly excited about it (we just started it today) and they can be a difficult group to impress. I think giving them so much choice in what they’d be doing, as well as assigning just a small chunk of material were both smart choices on my part. The assessment is the part that is giving me the most grief because of the wide range of “products” that students are working on. However, I plan to focus on their oral presentation/explanation of the piece as well as the piece itself. The reflection will also tell me a lot about how deeply they understand the information.
What have I been doing, you may ask, while they’ve been busily “teaching themselves”? I’ve been circulating, facilitating, working with individual students who need clarification and listening to my students talk about the material. Today was great! We’ll see how “on task” everyone is tomorrow!
Posted on May 8, 2012, in Differentiated instruction, Education, Literacy, Middle School, Writing and tagged differentiating projects, differentiation, differentiation in the middle grades, middle school. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.