5 Tips For Differentiating Instruction
Choice! We all enjoy having a choice in our work!
Consider giving students options for how they practice their math – worksheet, whiteboard, computerized math, partners, alone. Also look for options for students to show you that they have mastered content. Can they do the five most difficult problems? Can they create their own examples to fit specific parameters? Could they write a letter or blog post or make a video explaining a topic?
Make the work brain-friendly!
Our brains respond well to music, movement, and color! In any given lesson consider using 2 or 3 different elements to appeal to students’ various learning differences. Sing the quadratic formula, watch a video explaining quadratics, create a chart illustrating three forms of the quadratic equation, color code notes! Very popular right now are sketch notes and doodling!
Vary how students are grouped in class!
Most often teachers are encouraged to create mixed ability groups. While mixed ability groups have their place, grouping students with the same challenge needs on occasion allows the teacher to specifically design appropriately leveled tasks and/or mini-teaching sessions.
Use rich problems with multiple entry points!
Rich problems are non-routine in that they are not typical practice of a skill or algorithm; they have little scaffolding; and students of varying skill levels can benefit from them. Rich Problems have natural extensions - one question leads to another. They are difficult and interesting at the same time. Rich Problems are revealing! They give insight to teachers about students' understanding. They help students experience the essence of mathematics. A few places to find rich problems besides the Twitter math community include:
Attend to the learning environment!
Students may need opportunities for both quiet work time and collaboration! Students with sensory issues might need less light, or headphones during independent work time. Alternative seating or vertical work surfaces can provide differentiation. And last, create routines so that you can work with small groups while other students work independently.