Differentiation and Planning?

Teaching today calls for unrelenting, intense differentiation. Differentiation occurs through what you teach, how you teach, when you teach, and why you teach. As teachers we can differentiate every aspect of a each lesson, and we should. There is so much information that shows the increasing effectiveness of instruction when it is varied and teachers are aware of students needs. To give us more understanding of differentiation our ECS 410 class was split into subject groups and given real classroom teachers’ examples of assignments and activities Q: I wonder what benefits could have come from meeting practicing teacher from other subject groups?

Dr. Tana Mitchell spoke to the Social Studies pre-service teachers and her expertise is obvious and constructive. Tana gave us a booklet of resource that she uses in her classes, as well as templates and examples we can adapt to our future classrooms. Tana has such an organized, straightforward approached to her planning and execution for curriculum, so seeing her assignment outlines and rubrics really allows for understanding what our internship and future jobs will require. From tiered assignments to GRASPS tasks, it seems that every aspect of Tana’s classroom is differentiated for her students’ well-being. Q: How the HECK does a teacher find the time to differentiate every lesson, for every class, for each day, all semester?


|This is a flowchart that Tana gave to us to guide our instruction, as it shows how to differentiate, and in which ways. Courtesy of Carol Tomlison.

In my ECS 310 class we are developing a presentation for our colleagues on differentiate instruction and what that may look like in the classroom. Its funny how teachers college asks us to be experts and then asks us to meet with experts, like there is no difference between knowing how to differentiate, and knowing how to hear about it. Putting these ideas into practice is such an undertaking, I hope that we can showcase the practical ways of doing so in our presentation. I know I appreciate hearing from my classmates because we are all struggling to make sense of teacher from front to back, and that is not easy without collaboration.

I’ve developed a short list of some of the most interesting ways to differentiate, and some of the ways I’m excited to try out myself:

-Tiered assignments
-Learning contracts
-Buddy work (Strong with Weak pairings)
-Choice board for projects (See Below)



One thought on “Differentiation and Planning?

  1. Nerdodactyl says:

    Hey Emily,
    Once again another great read! I love all of the visuals you included. I’m just gonna go through and give my 2 cents on the questions you asked in your post.

    Q1: I wonder what benefits could have come from meeting practicing teacher from other subject groups?
    As a math major I know we all loved our session with Tracy’s husband. It was really interesting to hear about mathematics education from someone that was actually teaching. A lot of our profs for our EMTH classes are always telling/making us plan and teach lessons that are focused around inquiry and open tasks which requires a lot of time and effort and it was nice to see that in the real world you need to find a balance with direct teaching strategies because while inquiry is a great teaching tool it is also very time consuming and demands a lot of different materials so being able to know that it’s okay to have a class every now and then that involves direct teaching was nice. We also were given a lot of great resources that let us see differentiation in action, for example having tiered assignments where students can tackle different difficulties based on their skill levels, or choice assignments where students can play to their strengths. We also got some materials that help with meeting treaty education learning outcomes which is really nice because that is a topic that often scares pre-service math teachers but when we actually get to see how people are doing it it isn’t as scary and knowing what we can do it encouraging.

    Q2: How the HECK does a teacher find the time to differentiate every lesson, for every class, for each day, all semester?
    I totally agree with you but I think it all depends on how much experience you get with it, I know I’ve taken a few classes already that have made me think about differentiation and carry it out for different lessons and over time it got easier. So while differentiating everything can seem like a very difficult task and very daunting with practice it gets easier, in some cases differentiating a lesson is as easy as just providing students to make their own choices about how they want to learn, in mathematics using open tasks and questions that have entry points at all levels is the easiest way to differentiate and make sure all students can engage in a lesson. So I think the way teachers find the time to do it is that after awhile thinking about differentiation just becomes second nature, just like thinking about how you plan to assess the learning of students.

    Liked by 1 person

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