Differentiation can feel like the most time consuming part of planning. It is much easier to plan one whole class lesson and expect everyone to learn versus planning small groups, changing materials, and so on. Here is one way to take some of the time out of differentiation and make your teaching even more effective!
Small group planning: grouping students
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- Write each student’s name on one of these post-it flags. At first I thought it would work just as well to write their names on this sheet but then you end up erasing and moving people around and it gets messy. By writing their names on the post its, they are much easy to move if the students need to change groups throughout the unit.
- Plan your 3-4 groups based on pretests. Give your class pretests on the topic. Don’t just put them in groups based on the grade they get but look at which answers they missed. For example, maybe 5 students don’t understand how to regroup in addition and 10 other students have a difficult time lining their numbers up in the correct columns. Group the students based on what they need to learn.
- As you move through the unit, move students around. You may notice that all the sudden the information clicked for one student and now they are ready for more challenging work so move them to that group!
- Once you have this table set-up for your unit, the differentiation is easy! You can switch students without much effort!
- Use a smallpost-it note to jot down your lesson ideas. This way you can write your notes and quick lesson plan summary without having to get a new sheet every day or week!
You can download my differentiation sheets at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
Another way to easily differentiate in your classroom is by creating an independent work file box. The idea behind this box is to always have appropriate independent work for when students are done with the required work from the lesson. It will stop students from saying, “I’m done! Now what?” and give you the confidence in knowing your students have work that is differentiated for them!
You could also use this as a way to differentiate work within a lesson. Set-up another file box for the subject (math, reading, writing) you want to use it for so students aren’t getting things confused. Clearly display the subject on the front and have a file for each student. If you have an activity, differentiated by ability levels for independent work, you can put the appropriate activity in each student’s file. This keeps students from doing so much comparing when you are handing out work and you aren’t trying to remember who gets what sheet in the middle of your lesson.
I hope this has given you some ideas or at least some inspiration on ways to continue to differentiate in your classroom. Differentiation can make all the difference in students making progress.