December Newsletter | Differentiating Instruction Like a Pro

202311_November Newsletter

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Differentiating Instruction Like a Pro

Students’ learning styles and proficiency levels are as unique as their fingerprints. As educators, we want to present subjects in ways that are accessible to all our students—no matter how different their skill sets are. This is why differentiating instruction is so important to the success of our classrooms. We’re here to answer some common questions about learning differentiation so you can support students at every level.

Where do I start when it comes to differentiation?

It can be overwhelming to approach content with a diverse range of learners. The first step is to identify each student’s learning level. Connect with caregivers, support staff, IEP documentation and your STAR learning profile or Links Lesson Assessment to get a snapshot of each student’s current proficiency level. After identifying skill sets for each student in your classroom, group peers together by learning goals.

When it comes to differentiation, why is group work important?

Although individualized instruction is a cornerstone of our work with students, group instruction is a valuable tool for students at every level. As students are building specific skills and working toward individual IEP goals during 1:1 instruction, it’s important to offer them opportunities to generalize those skills using group activities that can be modified for students at various levels.

Set the tone for group work with primary students during circle time using this Circle Step-by-Step Guide (English | Spanish). For secondary students, take advantage of morning meeting time to build rapport and get students comfortable in groups using this Morning Meeting Tip Sheet (English | Spanish).

How can I present the same lesson to students at various learning stages?

Differentiating instruction involves tailoring instructional techniques and lesson difficulty levels to match the individual abilities of each student. At STAR, we know how important it is to have multiple strategies at your fingertips when you’re presenting new content to students. Media Center users can use the Themes First! monthly calendar (English | Spanish) to identify useful lessons based on their students’ current learning level—use the key at the top of the calendar to note which level each lesson is best suited for. For secondary students, Links users can find multiple versions of current event discussion stories, vocational career exploration posters, and independent work activities for math and ELA so the whole classroom can engage with the same subject. Subscribers can review and choose from options to access what's right for students' individual learning levels. Links ATU lessons also include a chart outlining differentiated and targeted skills across three learning levels, and many lessons provide differentiated worksheets to give all students opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

Not a Media Center or Links subscriber? Use this differentiation guide (English | Spanish) to identify strategies that can help you tailor the way you present information to students depending on their proficiency levels.

What can I do to support my students transitioning from one level to the next?

When working with students who are approaching new proficiency levels, choose activities that lend themselves to multiple types of learners. Independent work time is a great opportunity to support students in performing newly-learned skills independently. Check out this series of math independent work activities (English | Spanish)—these leveled tasks allow students to build on the skills they already know.

When it comes to tailoring your instructional techniques to meet the diverse needs of your entire class, we’re here to help! Contact us to learn about curriculum and training to meet all your instructional differentiation needs.