Blasting Through the Struggle of Using Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Blasting Through the Struggle of Using Differentiated Instruction Strategies


I think I might be the only one who gets excited about differentiated instruction strategies…or at least it just SEEMS that way!

The reason why I get excited about it is because it is a SERIOUSLY UNDERTAPPED teaching activity that has the POWER TO MOVE MOUNTAINS!

In fact, if we continue to hone our core teaching work in all content areas and then complement that teaching with sound differentiated instruction strategies in every classroom, we just might be able to say that we’ve found the MAGIC BULLET!  (Well not really because there’s no magic about it…but you catch my drift!)

First off, let me say this: differentiating instruction does not have to be so dang difficult and convoluted!  In fact, some of the simplest, most basic forms of differentiated instruction I’ve seen are the most powerful in getting a return on the investment – and the student scores and confidence are the return!

So, here’s where I want you to start – or end.  Because I want you to start with the end. I mean, makes perfect sense, right?

Ummm….not so much.

Okay – take a look at this:

One of the biggest mistakes in planning for differentiated instruction?  Failing to plan with the end in mind – knowing where you’re headed so that you know when you get “there”.

So, what I do is create a simple little hand-scratched grid on a piece of wayward paper – in other words it doesn’t have to be fancy or even on a computer.  It’s about the path, not the pretty!

Then, I lay out the 1-2 skill per week that I’m going to focus on. 

Notice I didn’t say the 92-93 skills per week!  (By the way, over-skilling kids is a really big problem in differentiation – avoid it and have clarity!)

And I mark out on my simple calendar grid when I expect to be finished with that skill. Then I map out the next skill.  I put at * in places that I want to monitor (like doing a quick check-out on an individual skill that I’ve been teaching). I do this for about 6 weeks for one group.

Then I work the plan. 

And I don’t stray from the plan. 

And I don’t second-guess the plan. 

And I don’t do the knee-jerk reaction to “My kids aren’t learning anything!” thoughts I might have. 

And I put my head down with the kids and teach.  The plan. Without fail.  Every day.

And I watch how things (like the scores) move.  And I watch how the kids learn new skills.  And I see the confidence come.

At the end of the six weeks, I create my next plan based upon the check-outs along the way.

See?  It’s not hard, it just takes long-term vision and commitment to staying the plan. 

You can DO THIS!!!!


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