March 17, 2021

Top 4 Ingredients for Differentiation

In our recent Tchers’ Voice Survey, you told us you want more, More, MORE, on differentiation. Well, here are my top four ingredients to start differentiating now. Add yours to the list in the comments!

using index cards for differentiation

1. Index Cards: By now you’ve surely seen this simple formative assessment tool in action in Leah Alcala’s classroom with “My Favorite No.” But what comes next? You’ve already collected the data; now use it. Keep your No’s in a stack and talk with students one-on-one during a warm-up or other quiet independent activity.

pizza pans as classroom organizers

2. Pizza Pans? Yes, that’s right. Check out this brilliant idea for organizing groups. Metal pizza pans+ magnets with names!

flip cards for student feedback

3. Flip Cards: Love this! I’ve seen a similar idea using red and green post-its. Stick them together back to back. All cards start on green, but flip to red means stuck/question. Great for test days. Helps with persistence, and helps you meet your students’ needs in the moment.

4. Trust & Small Wins: Maybe this is a, “duh,” but I’ve found that I reach the most students when they trust me enough to tell me what they need (or what they’re not getting). Routines like “Morning Meeting” and “saying hello and how are you” to every student, every day help.

But most importantly, students need to know you’re not there to judge but to support their progress. I love the work and new book The Progress Principle from Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.

They write that, “the best way to motivate people [even young people], day in and day out, is by facilitating progress – even small wins.” Find ways – even small ones – for your students to make progress.

Share your strategies with us on Twitter! I know this list barely scratches the surface!


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