Ten Simple & Easy Ways to Differentiate

When planning lessons, I always ask myself, "Are all of my kids doing the same thing?"  If that answer is yes, then I am not differentiating appropriately.  It's kinda of a nerdy passion of mine to maximize differentiation.  That being said, my room is not differentiated 100% of the time.  There are times when time restrictions or difficulty of a particular skill that we are not doing different things; however, I try to challenge myself to maximize my differentiation!  Here is a list of my top ten favorite or frequently used ways that I differentiate.

1.  Exit Tickets

I use Exit Tickets nearly EVERY day!  I use them to determine groups or to see which students need additional assistance on a particular skill.  I believe, that using these over the course of the year, has attributed to tremendous growth. I have a FREE sample in my TpT Store! :)

2. Colored Folders  

Ok, so I'm no genius but I'm definitely organized.  This helps organize what each group will be doing after I sort Exit Tickets.  In reality, each folder has an activity that targets common difficulties that students tend to have with that skill.  I can prep these ahead of time and throw the Exit Tickets in them as I sort.  This allows me to utilize classroom helpers in an effective manner.

3.  Bubble Pages

Where would I be without my Bubble Pages?  I created three levels of tasks that students complete on a weekly basis.  My students LOVE doing these each week.  These are designed to allow students to work independently while I work in small groups.  These make independent centers more productive, encourages accountability, and works perfectly for both reading and math.

4.  Menus

Although I do use these on occasion, my teaching partner {Education Lahne} uses these weekly for spelling practice.  It allows the students to make choices on how they study.  They really enjoy doing these each week and it continually proves to be an effective tool to study their weekly words.

5. Tic Tac Toe Boards

What a great way to allow choice while still enforcing requirements on the students to complete various tasks.  I scatter tasks by difficulty, interest, learning style, and product throughout the Tic Tac Toe Board.  Then, students are able to choose three items in a row to create a Tic Tac Toe line.

 6. Graphic Organizers

I love to use graphic organizers in social studies and science and differentiation is a breeze when using them.  I give students different graphic organizers to use while reading the same science or social studies passage.  The picture above shows a drawing conclusions graphic organizer with the stem "I infer..." and an inference I developed from that particular section.

In the above image, this student has a blank graphic organizer where he will be required to make his own inferences as well as support the inferences he makes.  

7. Choice Boards

I purchased these Math Choice Boards from Jennifer Findley and they are absolutely fabulous.  I use them to allow enrichment for my students in our current math topic.  They allow my students to choose activities that fit their skill set, interest, and strengths.

8. Bundled Task Cards

When I sit down to create task cards, I use the same design and background for each unit.  What I love about this is that I can mix up the task cards as needed based on ability. To the students, they appear to be the same set of task cards.  The student on the left is working on adding fractions with common denominators, while the student on the right is working on adding fractions with unlike denominators.  Two totally different skills and difficulty levels, yet no one knows but me.

9. Recording Sheets

Many times, I use the same cards around the room but give students different recording sheets.  This allows each student to do different things with the same cards hidden around the room.  

10.  Leveled Reading Passages

I often use leveled reading passages from The Sweetest Thing.  These leveled passages allow each student to have a passage written at their Lexile Level.  After reading a passage at their own level, they are assessed on the same questions to determine their comprehension of the passage.  

By clicking the image above, you can grab a set of templates for creating your own menus, choice boards, and bubble pages.  

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