Defensible Differentiation Notes
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Defensible Differentiation Notes

Defensible Differentiation Notes

A few notes from Carol Ann Thomlinson’s presentation on defensible differentiation.

Flexible grouping:

  • by Readiness, Interest, and Learning Profile
  • by Group or Make up (student similarities, size, variance)
  • by Teacher Choice, Student Choice, or at Random

Thomlinson recommends creating Pre-Assigned “Standing” Groups (by color, by hours on a clock, etc.).  “Meet up with your _________ group.”

Some additional options for grouping:

  • Text teams: similar readiness, reading pairs
  • Synthesis Squads: sets of 4 with visual, performance, writing, metaphorical preferences
  • Teacher Talkers: sets of 5-7 with similar learning needs with whom the teacher will meet to extend and support growth
  • Think Tanks: mixed readiness, writing generator, groups of 4 or 5, great for brainstorming
  • Dip Sticks: groups of six with varied profiles used by teacher to do “dip stick”, cross-section checks of progress, understanding
  • Peer Partners: Student selected, groups of 3 or 4

Respectful Tasks:

  • Equally interesting, appealing, engaging
  • Focused on the same essential understandings and skills
  • Requires all students to work at high levels of thinking (to apply, argue, defend, synthesize, transform, look at multiple perspectives, associate with, etc)

Teacher – Student Connections lead to respect and community

Student willingness to risk learning begins with a teacher’s connection with students. In turn, connections begin with a teacher’s mindset about learning and his/her commitment to know them well in order to teach them well.

The quality of the learning environment in a classroom as well as student motivation to learn and the teacher’s sustained energy for teaching are greatly impacted by the teacher’s skill and will in building bridges between themselves and their students.

More here web resources on differentiated instruction.

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