A really common question I get is, “What is the easiest way to differentiate in reading?”

My typical answer is, “Well, we’re not going for ‘easy’ as much as ‘simple and effective'” – somehow the wording makes me feel better!  (Probably because if “easy” is what we’re going for, we can oftentimes compromise powerful instructional moves)

So, when I saw this cool pic of the red jelly bean in a sea of yellow ones I got to thinking… (BTW, I’m much more partial to a red jelly bean, whether it be cherry or cinnamon…I mean, yellow?  Ugh!)

Who are the kids in your classroom that are screaming out for help…because they’re different?

Different in that they are struggling with the grade level content. 

Different because the content is just right and they need more “just rightness” of the grade level content. 

Different in that they are bored stiff because they need a bigger challenge.  Not more work. Bigger challenge, I said!

My starting point with our clients is typically START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE AND COMMIT TO USING IT LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER BEFORE.  I’m not a big fan of buying a bunch of stuff that will “solve” the problem – just like when I cook from what I have in my fridge, I just might have everything I need right before me!

So here’s what you do, look at your core reading program or intervention and try some of these techniques to enhance your differentiation techniques WITHIN the core so that you can be more focused OUTSIDE of the core!

For your Advanced/Always Benchmark Kids who are always on benchmark

  • Look at standards from grade level above and incorporate the language and skills into current grade level work
  • Focus on extended responses both verbally and in written form
  • Choose alternative text
  • Move swiftly through the lesson
  • Pre-teach vocabulary and pair students with struggling students during lesson
  • Use “Above Level” links during instruction and in targeted small group teaching
  • Build in more independence during block

For your mostly Benchmark Kids who sometimes slip below benchmark on vocabulary and comprehension tasks

  • Pre-teach the important comp-related parts of the lesson the day prior
  • Pre-read text for next week rehearse vocabulary
  • Follow “On Level” links
  • Scaffold text when teaching strategies
  • Increase written responses
  • Encourage re-reading of text

For your Strategic/Intensive Kids who struggling with grade-level tasks

  • Pre-read text for next week
  • Practice passages with high comprehension points
  • Re-release key strategy-related comprehension questions to students and rehearse thinking and responding
  • Pull to small group during core to manage text
  • Use anthology passages for fluency
  • Preview high-impact vocabulary words

So your job?  Look at your instruction right now and see where you can incorporate TWO of these strategies into your planning…and report back on how they worked!  www.facebook.com/jacksonconsulting