Published on January 10, 2009
Differentiation for High Ability Learners Presented by April Coleman T.A.R.G.E.T. Tuscaloosa County Schools
Objectives for This Workshop • Identify differentiation strategies you are currently using to effectively meet the needs of all learners. • Obtain new strategies and materials for differentiating instruction in regard to assessment, content, process, and product.
What does differentiation mean to you?
Differentiation is… • “Diagnosing the readiness level of each student and customizing instruction so every individual experiences continuous learning.” (Bertie Kingore) • “Teachers at work refining the art of teaching” (Bertie Kingore) • “A teacher’s response to a learner’s needs” (Carol Ann Tomlinson)
Differentiation is not… • Giving more of the same kind of work to kids who have shown mastery. • Giving busy work to kids who have shown mastery. • Tediously planning each aspect of every learning activity for each student at all times. • Placing students in inflexible groups based on ability at all times. • Expecting kids who are “gifted” to always know everything before it is taught or to excel in every subject area.
“Fun isn’t the objective. It’s the result of great teaching!” Bertie Kingore
Guiding Principles of Differentiation • Focus on the essentials • Attention to student differences • Assessment & instruction inseparable • Modification of content, process, and products • Respectful work for all students • Flexible working relationship between teacher & students (Tomlinson, 1999)
Differentiating Instruction is Easy as ABC…1,2,3! Teachers can differentiate 1. Content 2. Process 3. Product According to a student’s 1. Readiness 2. Interests 3. Learning Styles
In what ways do you assess your students?
“When all kids have the same answers, I have no clue what they really know.” Bertie Kingore
Getting to Know Your Students Preassessment is an essential first step in differentiating instruction. Assessment of… • Readiness • Interests • Learning Styles
Ideas for Assessing Readiness Assessing Individuals: • Pretests for Volunteers • Most Difficult First • Exit Tickets Assessing Whole Group: • Individual Response Boards • Four Corners • Topic Talk • Name Cards/Sticks
Pretests • Don’t reinvent the wheel – End-of-chapter or skill- based tests work well as pretests. • Set a goal for mastery to qualify for compacting – usually 80% to 90% – Talk with principal and parents first – What about grades? (upper grades only) – Students who show mastery will do an alternative activity.
Most Difficult First • When giving an assignment of skill or practice work, determine which items represent the most difficult part of the entire task. • Write the assignment on the board, starring these items. • Give students a choice to participate. • Name the first student finished to get 4/5 correct as the “checker.” • Allow students who show mastery to participate in an alternate activity, according to the “Three Magic Rules.” Winebrenner, 2001
Exit Tickets • One Minute Response – Most important thing you learned today – Main unanswered question you leave class with today – Muddiest point (most confused about) • A&E Card (Assessment & Evaluation) – Show 3 different ways to complete this math problem. – Briefly explain gravity. Give an example of gravity in the classroom or on the playground. – Which event is most important in the story? Why? • 3-2-1 Card – 3 key ideas, 2 questions, 1 thing I want to read more about – 3 words I think are most important to this topic, 2 connections I made, 1 thing I do not like Kingore, 2007
Making Whole Group Assessment More Effective • Individual Response Boards • Four Corners • Name Cards/Sticks • Topic Talk – Student pairs discuss a given topic, then switch in the middle when signal is given.
Ideas for Assessing Interests • Interest Inventory – list of various topics kids might enjoy learning about • Note Cards / Sticky Notes • KWL • Sign-ups – List topics for groups/centers and let kids sign up based on interest.
Ideas for Determining Learning Profile • Learning styles inventories • Multiple Intelligences questionnaire • Parent questionnaire • Observations The Internet is a great resource for finding ready-to-use student learning styles inventories!
Tips for Making Pre-assessment Work • Start small: – Give a pre-test to your identified gifted students first. – Pre-test in basic subjects first – reading, spelling, or math. • Use standardized pretests if possible – no need to reinvent the wheel! • You may eventually want to offer the option to all students in the class.
Once you “know” your students, where do you go from here?!!!
Keep your eyes on the GOAL of Differentiation: • “Customizing instruction so every individual experiences continuous learning” (Kingore) • Responding to a learner’s needs (Tomlinson)
Stay organized but sane! (Is that possible??!!) • The extent to which you document and the method you use is up to you! • Don’t overcomplicate. Documentation should serve to simply show what you are doing and why. • If the organizational strategies you are using make your job more difficult, change or simplify them!
Organization and Documentation • The Compactor form • Teacher-created charts • Checklists • Learning Contracts • Parent Communication/Cooperation
The Three Magic Rules 1. Don’t bother anyone else while you’re working. 2. Don’t call attention to yourself or the fact that you’re doing something different – it’s no big deal. 3. Work on activities you’ve chosen or been assigned. Winebrenner, 2001
Differentiation Strategies Whole Group: • Grouping • Tiered/Multilevel Activities • Activity/Extensions Menus • Centers Individual Students: • Compacting • Independent Projects • Accelerated Learning • Mentorships
Tiered/Multilevel Activities • Open-ended Activities - allow students to naturally work at various ability levels. • Tiered Lesson/Activities – have two or more levels of difficulty/complexity in regard to content, process, and/or product.
Open-Ended/Multilevel Product Ideas • Paper Chain • Story Map • Timeline • Top 10 List • Character Traits – “I am…” • Science Experiment
Higher Level Extension Activities • Promote higher level, critical, and/or creative thinking skills • Whole class or individual students • Problem Solving Activities: – Logic Puzzles – Brainteasers – Productive Thinking (Brainstorming) – Sudoku
Activity/Extensions Menus • Choice is a powerful student motivator. • Within a concept/topic area or across subject areas • 3 methods of differentiation – ability, learning style, and interest • Can be used: – Differentiation option for individual student(s) – Culminating/unit activity for all students • Format Options: – Tic-tac-toe – List
Learning Centers • Based on topics of study & student interests • Some may be permanent: – Reading, learning games, computer, etc. • Others may change: – Country of the month, author study, art technique, magazines, etc. – Tip: To save time and money, share centers among a group of teachers during the course of a year. • May be portable: – file-folder games/activities – “centers in a tub/box/basket”
Learning Center Ideas for High Ability Students • Computer • Nonfiction Books – Webquests • Geography – Learning Games – City/Country of the Month • Science (Hands-on) – Magazines (Time for Kids, • Creativity Ntl. Geographic for Kids) • ABC Books – Art • Problem-Solving – Writing – Logic Puzzles – Origami – Analogies • Real-World Math • Interest Center
Making Centers Work • Task Cards or Center Activity Menus – brief, clear directions for activities students may do at a particular center • Center Logs – Students record what they do at a center (may be stored in folders in a designated spot) • Assignment/Choice Boards – Names of groups/individuals are placed in pocket chart labeled with words and/or pictures based on students’ changing ability and readiness on a day- to-day or week-to-week basis
Compacting • Preassess to find out what students already know and what they still need to learn • Document to show mastery – Learning Contract • Teach remaining skills in a whole/small group or independently. • Provide replacement activity: – Extension activity – Learning centers – Independent project – Subject acceleration – Mentorship
Learning Contract • Page/Concept - Lists all page numbers and/or concepts covered in a unit – Check marks identify page/concept NOT mastered during pretest – Student will join class for direct instruction during these lessons OR work in a small group or independently. • Extension Options and Your Idea (student suggestion option) • Working Conditions (or use chart) Note: Teacher and student sign bottom of form to indicate acceptance of the terms. The contract is only valid as long as the student complies with the Working Conditions.
Tips for Using Learning Contracts • Especially useful for skill-based areas (math, spelling, grammar, reading strategies, etc.) • Grades should come from preassessment, which represents grade level work. • Try with one or two students, then offer the option to more students and eventually to the entire class. • Store materials for extension activities in a center or specific area of the classroom. (Winebrenner, 2001)
Independent Projects • Topic may be related to class subject or interest-based. • Use pre-made forms to guide project development. – Resident Expert Planner (Winebrenner) – Teacher-created checklists • Involve library-media specialist for assistance with finding materials and conducting research. • Possible Projects: – Create a class center. – Write and “publish” a book (ABC books, etc.) – Technology-related activities Get many more ideas from pre-made lists of projects.
Accelerated Learning • Should be considered as a case-by-case option. • Get prior approval from principal, next grade level teacher, and parents. • Allow child to attend class with the next grade level for a subject in which he or she has shown mastery. • According to research, acceleration is the most effective strategy for meeting the needs of gifted learners. (Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross in “A Nation Deceived”)
Mentorships • Ask a community member to volunteer to work one-on-one with a student to develop a special project on a topic of interest. – Ex.: A retired veteran might be willing to work with a student interested in learning more about World War II. – Ex.: A college student in a service club might help a small group of interested students to organize a school service project. • Possible mentors: elderly people who are active in the community, stay-at-home parent with special talents/interests, college students in service organizations • Requires very little preparation by the teacher. • Research-proven to be especially effective for gifted underachievers and low socioeconomic students
Think About It… Which of these strategies do you ALREADY USE in your classroom to differentiate instruction? Which of these strategies would you like to BEGIN USING in your classroom to further differentiate instruction?
Differentiation in a Nutshell… • Assess students’ readiness, interests, and learning styles. • Plan replacement activities for students who have shown mastery in specific concepts/skills. • Replacement tasks should be respectful work that serves a purpose (i.e. not busy work). • Offer choices to all students which appeal to their ability levels, interests, and learning styles.
How do teachers make it all work? • Start small…. But start somewhere! – Anchor activities – Differentiation for small blocks of time • Grow slowly – but grow! – Try creating one differentiated lesson per unit, differentiate one product per semester, etc. – Give structured choices more often. Tomlinson, 1999
How do teachers make it all work? (cont.’d) • Step back and reflect. – Don’t be afraid to throw an idea out and start over again! • Talk with students regularly to get input. • Continue to empower students. – Don’t do things for them they can do for themselves. – Give them increasing responsibility for documentation. • Give thoughtful directions. • Work together with colleagues. • Bring principals and parents on board. Tomlinson, 1999
Thank You!!! Thank you for your time and interest in attending this workshop! If we can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us: April Coleman – firstname.lastname@example.org Lori White – email@example.com Kelly Belew – firstname.lastname@example.org Sprayberry Education Center: 342-2660
Resources Kingore, B. (2007). Reaching all learners: Making differentiation work. Professional Associates Publishing: Austin, TX. Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Meeting the needs of all learners. ASCD: Alexandria, VA. Winebrenner, S. (2001). Teaching gifted kids in the regular classroom. Free Spirit Publishing: Minneapolis, MN. www.learnerslink.com/curriculum.htm http://adifferentplace.org/
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