Understanding Differentiated Instruction

I’ve noticed in the last few years that some teachers sometimes struggle with the concept of differentiated instruction. It is a skill I believe I’ve mastered early on and I credit this to my experience in the School District of Philadelphia. For several years I would receive students at the beginning of the year with very diverse academic abilities. When I taught 4th grade, I remember my lowest group would be made up of beginner readers and my highest group could range from 4th to 6th grade. I truly wanted all of my students to succeed. Additionally, I was haunted by the inevitable standardized tests that would be administered to every student in the early part of spring. It was my professional obligation to make sure that my students not only made adequate progress, but that they could maneuver these standardized tests and score at least a basic (for my lowest students).

Differentiating instruction came naturally. I first started by incorporating teaching strategies that tapped into the various learning styles of the students in my classroom. I tried to use resources that were visual, tactile and auditory. Every lesson was geared toward moving students from the easiest level to a more complex level of understanding. This would mean a great deal of scaffolding, several anchor charts (I don’t think we called them anchor charts back in the early 2000’s), and small group instruction.

The only way that made sense when trying to meet the needs of everyone was to rotate them in small learning groups (guided reading groups). I struggled in the beginning. Not just because it took a great deal of planning and prep work, but also because I had extreme behaviors that I had to manage. I had students that were combative, physically aggressive with their peers at times, and verbally disrespectful. Not only did I grow (a very) tough skin, but I became very good at managing a difficult class, documenting behaviors and academic progress, and transforming reluctant learners into a room full of eager scholars.

So, are you looking for tips on how to successfully differentiate instruction? Take a look at my “Quick Guide to Differentiated Instruction”. Just subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download once you’ve confirmed your email.  By subscribing to my newsletter you will get regular updates about new blog posts and/or resources that I post to my site. This quick guide to differentiated instruction is just the beginning! I now teach third grade and the things that used to seem so difficult to accomplish or do with success in the classroom now come easier to me. Of course, I still have my fair share of challenges; however, over the years I’ve been able to add to my bag of tricks and tips and grow my library of resources and materials. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you along with how I organize my classroom, manage my learning centers, keep my students engaged and on task, and some of my favorite books and common core activities. Be sure to add my blog to your RSS feed or subscribe to my blog on Bloglovin’. That way you can get updated overtime a new post is added!

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