You may be wondering exactly what is differentiation and how does it relate to a classroom full of students. Differentiation means that you are teaching to variances of intellect in the classroom. You are making adjustments to lessons for those learners that are struggling and those that are gifted.
It is a fact of a school teacher’s life that there are going to be different levels of intelligence in the classroom. There may be some students that are as bright as the classroom teacher, and there will be others that are not quite as gifted. In any case, an educator has to make certain their lesson plans are suitable for all students. If you aren’t already doing this, it is time to incorporate differentiation into your classroom lessons.
It is not an easy thing to do even for the most seasoned veteran teachers. Taking a lesson and making it simpler or harder can be tough to do, but if you have a plan in place, you can get through to all the students.
Below is a list of ways which can help you plan differentiation in your lessons.
Reach Out to All Types of Learners
There are basically four types of learners that students can be. While the students may be part of each group to a certain extent, there will be one particular one that they can excel at usually. The four learning types are visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. It is important to keep these in mind when putting together your lesson plans. Have differentiation in each plan that is specifically made for that type of learner.
With your visual learners, you will want to use more pictures and images that have information in them. Also, showing videos that correspond with what you are trying to teach will be a good move as well.
Auditory learners are those that can listen to a class discussion and grasp the main parts of it well. They also tend to remember things substantially better when incorporated into other sounds and music. Yet again, these learners could benefit from having a video presented that goes along with the lesson.
Reading/writing learners are the ones that have no trouble with writing essays and reading text. They have solid literacy skills and enjoy language arts in general. These types of students can excel in the classroom because their work is often recognizable through their assignments. However, with that said, they may not be the most gifted speaker or have a huge presence in the classroom.
Kinesthetic learners are the physical ones that remember things best when they are in action. They are usually pretty good when having to do presentations. They like to use their hands and are very good at learning through movement. Most athletes seem to be stronger kinesthetic learners since they can pick up on sports quickly by participating in them.
Use Varying Levels of Difficulty for Reading Material
You may have students in your classroom that are already reading at the college level, while you could also have some that are reading at a fourth grade level. It is up to you, as best as you can, to create differentiation and to provide the right reading material based on their literacy skills. It is almost impossible to have a well stocked library in your classroom for every reading level, but if you use technology and the internet in your lessons, you will be able to find suitable reading material for everyone which can help you to maintain differentiation.
Pair the Students Up Accordingly
There is no rule in education that all students must work on their own. The classroom teacher can make modifications to lessons that will enable certain students to be paired up. The teacher may do this with two struggling students that then can work together to figure everything out. Or maybe the teacher will pair up one of the brightest with one of the students that is most struggling as a way to provide a built-in tutor that offers guidance. If there are ever cries from the other students that this is not fair, simply explain to them that life is not fair.
Provide the Proper Learning Environment
Most people focus best when there is almost complete silence and no background noises to interrupt their thoughts. Students are no different. Make your classroom a perfect learning environment for all students. The teacher can still give out lessons that are suitable for different learning styles, but all of these can be worked on with respect to the others in the classroom.