If you walk into a typical public school classroom in the United States today you will likely see a wide variety of ability levels, socioeconomic levels and languages spoken. Meeting each of those students’ academic, social and emotional needs as individuals can be very overwhelming for the teacher, just as it was for me. Differentiated instruction eased that burden for me in my classroom.
In my project I took one of my most challenging units- telling time- and centered it around differentiated instruction. Students took a pre-survey to gauge their perceived strengths and weaknesses in telling time as well as a pre-assessment that I used to group students that excelled or struggled in similar areas. That pre-assessment gave me a jumping off point for my first groups. I knew who needed to review basic time-telling skills and who was ready for more of a challenge. Students met in small groups with me, played games with small groups and partners, did individual work on laptop computers and iPads and participated in games on the SMART Board. The groups were flexible, so students could be moved freely within groups based on need.
The second cycle of my project took the students’ learning and understanding of telling time and incorporated more digital technology. Students had their choice of a variety of tools to teach others how to tell time. They were expected to use pertinent vocabulary and rich content to share their learning with others. Students were also encouraged to create their projects with the multiple intelligences in mind. If students preferred learning through writing, they might choose to write a blog post. If others preferred to learn through song, they could write a song about telling time. Others chose to create books and videos to share their learning with their audience.