Sunday, November 11, 2012

MS-Sunday Funday- Differentiation in the Classroom

Finally, a weekend with essentially nothing to do.

My son has finally finished his three, yes three, sports that he played in this fall. My life can be normal for a few days.

So back to blogging, I hope.

How do I differentiate in class?

Not sure I have anything new and creative to share. I use a lot of small group activities. I allow students to work together, but mostly allow them to group themselves. When I group its based on who can and can't work together because of behavior. Seriously, I have to make my 50 minutes with them productive. If I can tackle management I can do anything.

I am in a kick of cutting up worksheets and making them "stations". The students love checking their answers when they are finished. They get so excited.

I have also learned that I differentiate based on each class. Some classes need more help than others. Some can handle independence, some can't. I also have volunteers in three of my classes, everyday. They really makes a difference.

I may be thinking scaffolding more than differentiating.

Here's an example (and a freebie)

Last week in my Math Lab class, we completed a scavenger hunt for Ratios and Proportions. These were pretty challenging. Math Labs are like remedial Math for our students. It's their second Math class. We try to make it more station based and classes are pretty small. I am lucky enough to have a volunteer in my room everyday during this period. She is amazing with the kids and is "learning" sixth grade math along with them.

So, back to the scavenger hunt. As students worked some needed a LOT of support. We had to set the proportions up for them. Some needed a little bit of guidance and focusing reminders. Others were ready to rock and roll and even help the struggling learners.

This was our second "scavenger hunt" and the kids knew the process and the expectations. It ended up being a great treat, because on our second day, we had visitors from the district in to "check us out." We had assistant superintendents, my admin staff and principals and vice principals from all of our district schools. We have three elementary, one middle and one high school. Everyone showed up. I didn't even realize it would be happening. I guess we were told, but I didn't really comprehend what that actually meant.

Anyway, all these people came in and the kids were all over the place. Thank goodness they were working! Everyone on different problems. Some working alone, some with a partner, some in a group of 3-4. My volunteer was helping one kid. Not sure they even noticed, she blends in. The students were thrilled to see their elementary administrators and had no clue what they were there for, but they kept working.
The comments and feedback were really amazing and it was much needed for me. I didn't get much positive feedback last year at this school. This year has been so different and honestly, it felt good.

I think I got off the differentiation topic. Sorry. Its been a while since I really blogged.

So, here's the scavenger hunt. (updated to a PDF so it would print correctly) Maybe you can use it yourself! I wish I had pictures. What I did was copy on bright paper and hang them randomly around the room. We made a recording sheet where students had lots of room to show their work. Just in case, you can get that here.



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your differentiation strategies, and especially for sharing your scavenger hunt! I am going I try it with my 6th graders on Friday after we study proportions this week!! :) I think they'll love it!

  2. When you do stations, how do you get them to check their work? I have a lot of kids who will do the work and then just say they're done without checking. I've taken to making them come to me for the final check (they're supposed to check against the answer keys around the room first) but I find that many of them don't bother. But this means I don't get to help the kids who need to be helped because I'm busy double-checking answers.

    They really need to check their answers, but how do you make sure they do it? Thanks!

    1. Depends on the class. I am lucky enough to have a volunteer in three of my classes. They help check, literally check off correct answers and/or help students. I also have an aide in a few classes too. In those I don't, I am all over the room checking and helping. I get students to help check and honestly, sometimes I get behind and end up grading lots at home.

      The other thing I have noticed is we have done this checking thing several times and most of the kids are doing it. They are also using their stations for test corrections and have figured out that if they don't check their work, they have nothing to guide them.

      I think it's trial and error and a lot of training! I am definitely in the beginning stages of this.