I finished up my second day training in a series of “One Day Only” events focused on differentiated instruction and I learned a few things I thought I’d share:

  • We are looking at data, but we are not looking at data deeply enough or from the right angle
  • Our differentiated instruction practices and habits are not nearly specific enough
  • Improving our differentiated instruction practices could be the key to getting that pesky group of underachievers to benchmark

The groups that I worked with realized that as I was teaching them how to crunch data, create aimlines, determine weekly progress necessary to meet the benchmark and how to predict future growth, they were not looking at their data with nearly as critical an eye – they were looking at the data, but they weren’t seeing the data. The participants also reflected on the fact that they were teaching small groups, but their focus areas were “comprehension” or “preteaching vocabulary” – when in reality those topics are WAY to broad to be able to measure the effect of the instruction. We worked on planning lessons that were finite and discrete in their focus – nothing broad at all. An example of a very specific focus is: teaching two syllable words with closed and open syllables.

When some participants left they said to me, “I see it! I get it!” They were encouraged by the fact that they didn’t have to change much but the instructional plans and focus areas in order to see pretty radical results.