I was really excited to see all the tools for differentiation that I didn’t know about before. I think it is a process that many people do not understand and can struggle with doing well in their classrooms. Differentiation is hard to do in some ways but easier in others. One of the best things a teacher can have to help with differentiation is collaboration with their teaching partner as well as any other resources personal in the school (literacy coach, reading specialist, math interventionist). Now to put a plan into action we must first have one.
For me, differentiation can mean to slow down the pace when needed, speed up the pace when needed, replace content when needed, and add activities when needed. Differentiation helps with intervention to plug holes in understanding and extension for those fast learners. All students have to be able to learn at their own speed and may need either extra practice or to move on to the next concept. Varying the processes that students go through to learn the content, teaching them a variety of ways of solving, and different strategies for understanding are all ways to differentiate. Instruction can be one on one, small group, partner work, large group and independent. There can be a mix of all of those or just a couple. Differentiation has to fit the subject and the students’ needs.
Using program such as ALEKS http://www.aleks.com/ in your school is one way to differentiate in math. The program can be used for intervention with students who are behind in their math understanding or as extension for those students who need to move at a faster pace. The students work at their own pace and can be assessed weekly to determine their level of understanding. Another program that is similar, but for reading is Lexia http://www.lexialearning.com/ . Lexia is a great program for students who need help in reading and phonics instruction. Both of these programs can be used on an independent level for students with quick small group mini lessons as needed with the students.