Series New Teacher Survival Guide: New Teacher Survival Guide: Differentiating Instruction

New Teacher Survival Guide: Differentiating Instruction

Lesson Objective: Watch a new teacher's first attempt at a differentiated lesson
Grades 9-12 / Science / Lesson Planning

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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Why is assessment a key part of differentiation?
  2. What kinds of assessments could/should these be?
  3. What aspects of your lesson can be tiered to meet students at their level?
  4. What are simple ways you can start differentiating tomorrow?
  5. More difficult ways you can work at over the year?

90 Comments

  • Private message to Ronella Rainge

This video demonstrated also how important it is to bring a positive attitude to the instructional process.   A positive outlook allows you to be open to sit down and plan on how to meet the needs of each student.  Differentiation is not an easy task, but if you put in the work, the results are simply amazing.  Reaching out to others (veteran teachers or leaders) and sharing shows the Team work that is needed to make the Dream work happen.  It is vital to remember that from year to year, differentiation changes.  Students are different, and as time progresses, a multitude of ideas and lessons will become a part of your instructional process.

Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Vanesa Huizenga

This video reminded me of how important it is for first year teachers to seek out guidance in their classroom instruction as they learn how to implement what they've learned through the years in a live classroom. Differentiating for students is a tricky task because it requires a lot of assessment and planning to ensure that each student's level and learning style is being met. Differentiation is not always going to come easy because it changes from student to student and from class to class. However, there is a lot to be learned each year because of the changes there will be with differentiating. It is important to remember that it is not always going to come right away and it may not always be an easy task, but there is so much emphasis on the importance of differentation that it is worth the time and effort to help each of our students learn in the way that works best for them.

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Anna Maatman

This is a great video for first-year teachers as well any teacher who has been teaching for a number of years. It shows how differentiation can be a difficult thing to integrate into a classroom, but also gives ways that can be easily planned into a lesson. For example, this teacher tiered her lessons to challenge all students. This will benefit all the different types of learners and will help her assess each learner at their specific stage of learning. This teacher struggled with grouping students by readiness, interesting, or learning style, which is another way to differentiate in the classroom. But, I love the fact that she doesn’t have to have that done right now! She can keep working at it and when she’s ready involve it in her classroom.

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Vanesa Huizenga

Anna, I thought you had great things to say about differentiation. I definitely agree with what you have to say about how beneficial differentiation is for all types of learners in the classroom. Differentation is not going to come easily all the time, but it is important to work at it and to learn from past experiences how to best help our students. Lesson planning with differentiation in mind can be hard to work through, but the persistance and effort we put into the lessons will pour out into our students and their learning, which is the most important thing! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Carden Mahler

This video is very helpful as it not only shows the experience of a first year teacher, and her journey to differentiate with a very diverse group of students, but it also includes her conferences with a DI expert, Rick Wormeli. Rick encouragers this teacher to find ways to group her students by interest, learning styles and readiness, and then mix up the groups often. As he helps her to look at tiering and scaffolding, they come up with an idea to present the same general concepts to the whole class, but then use direct vs complex word problems to help students gain competency based on readiness. I found it encouraging at the end when Rick said that a standard pace for teachers would be to have 1 differentiating idea per month for three years.

 

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Makayla Otto

This video provided some really great tips and ideas for how to bring differentiation in the classroom. i love how honest the teacher was when it came to bringing up what she is struggling with in her own classroom. When becoming a new teacher, myself included, it is so important to make sure all of your students are successful in your classroom. Learning about the different ways to group students together such as interest, readiness, or learning style, rather than just by their intelligence level, is a really great way to make sure you are not seperating the classroom into two obvious groups. I also like the idea of using a word problem of various complexities. 

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Anna Maatman

Hey Makayla, I also loved how she admitted her struggle with differentiation! The teacher she talked to encouraged her and also calmed her by saying it's okay to struggle with it but to keep working at it. This gave me courage to use differentiation in my own classroom one day!

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Carden Mahler

I appreciate the idea to group students based on interest, readiness and learning styles rather than just on intelligence levels. Too often students get grouped by intelligence levels, and this can result in students feeling labeled and unmotivated. Mixing up the groups, and the criteria for grouping, is a good way to make sure that the students do not become associated with a particular group, and it also allows for additional learning from different students in the various groups.

Recommended (1)

Transcripts

  • Series Title Sequence
    New Teacher Survival Guide

    Differentiating Instruction Program Transcript

    ACT 1 : Meet Laura / Set up Differentiation

    Open on an

    Series Title Sequence
    New Teacher Survival Guide

    Differentiating Instruction Program Transcript

    ACT 1 : Meet Laura / Set up Differentiation

    Open on an empty Herrick's High school, flag flying in the breeze.

    CU of Laura driving to school

    Lower Third:
    Laura Gurick, 1st Year Chemistry Teacher
    GURICK: I actually always wanted to be a teacher. I never remember wanting to be anything else. I always loved to help people. I liked to watch people understand something for the first time, that joy and that excitement.

    Gurick exits her car, enters the school, starts preparing for the day
    MEET LAURA GURICK, SHE’S A FIRST YEAR CHEMISTRY TEACHER AT HERRICKS HIGH SCHOOL ON LONG ISLAND IN NEW YORK.

    Intv Laura Gurick GURICK: My typical day as a teacher as Herrick’s starts very early. I try to get here about 6:40 then what I usually do is I go right to the copy room. Make sure that I have everything that I need for that day. I start teaching at 7:30 and then, the rest of the day is a whirlwind.
    Intv Jack Bierwirth

    Lower Third:
    Jack Bierwirth, Superintendent BIERWIRTH: Herricks High School is very high-performing, but pretty typical of Long Island. About 96, 97% of students leave here and go on to higher education. We have 69 different languages spoken in the homes of the 1400 kids in the high school, so it’s an incredibly diverse population.
    Various shots of diversity at Herricks, dissolve into Laura’s classroom to show the same. THE DIVERSITY EXTENDS TO THE ACADEMIC READINESS OF THE STUDENTS IN LAURA’S CLASSROOM.

    LIKE MANY NEW TEACHERS, LAURA STRUGGLES TO KEEP HER LESSONS ENGAGING AND USEFUL TO STUDENTS WITH A WIDE RANGE OF INTERESTS, LEARNING STYLES AND CURRICULUM KNOWLEDGE.
    GURICK: I might have students that are struggling very much with the material, and then in the same class I have students that are hoping to go on to take AP Biology and AP Chemistry next year. It’s hard to do in one class. How do you challenge your top students while not leaving anybody behind?
    TEACHERS MUST ADAPT THEIR LESSONS, SO THAT THEY CAN BE UNDERSTOOD BY STUDENTS WITH DIFFERENT APTITUDES AND ABILITIES.

    A TEACHER WHO DIFFERENTIATES, RESPONDS TO THE DIVERSE LEARNING NEEDS OF HER STUDENTS.

    THIS INCREASES THE LIKELYHOOD THAT ALL STUDENT WILL LEARN KEY CONCEPTS.
    Intv Laura Gurick

    GURICK: Okay, so today we’re continuing our gas laws discussion.

    Sound up of Laura teaching in front of the class.
    LAURA HAS BEGUN TO DIFFERENTIATE, BY DESIGNING LESSONS THAT ADDRESS THE MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES IN HER CLASSROOM.

    Sound up Laura:
    Ok the pressure is constant, your volume went down, what had to have happened to your temperature? It went down!
    See the PTV popsicle stick formula working. See students with calculator, see students writing equations in their notebooks. GURICK: Some students are really strong math students so they are going to really latch onto those equations and the math behind it.

    Other students, they need to be able to see things and they need to be able to see examples in order for them to really learn and understand the concept.

    Those are all different ways that hopefully we will help all different types of learners whether they be auditory, sensory, or they like to write things down and just do the math behind it.

    See shots classroom STILL, LAURA STRUGGLES TO KEEP ALL HER STUDENTS ENGAGED AND WORKING TO THEIR MAXIMUM POTENTIAL.
    Intv Laura Gurick GURICK: It’s easier for me to hit on a different type of learner in my lesson, but it’s harder for me to work with students at very different ability levels in one particular class.

    ACT 2 : Meet the expert – skype interaction

    Beat 1: Meet Rick Wormeli / Skype talk

    SEE Rick Wormeli in front of a group of teachers at the Key School in Annapolis, Maryland Wormeli: I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve given the same homework assignment in my class over the course of the year.
    POV from behind the stage. CU of teachers taking notes RICK WORMELI IS A SCIENCE TEACHER FROM VIRGINIA, AND AN EXPERT ON DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION

    Wormeli: Some kids need batting, some catching, some need to lift some weights, some running, what ever it is. Not everyone needs batting practice. You change the practice, according to what children need.
    Intv Rick Wormeli WORMELI: Differentiated instruction is kind of the pragmatist’s credo, whatever works. You’ve got this one lesson you’re going to do. You’re sensitive to, is it working or not. And if the kids aren’t learning to the level, then what do I need to do to adjust it? It’s such a diverse repertoire of responses, that I can respond to the needs of my students. So a lot of people call differentiated instruction, responsive teaching.
    SEE Laura preparing for the Skype conversation at her apartment. Rick prepares for the conversation on his side. LAURA CONSULTS WITH RICK VIA SKYPE TO GET SOME PRACTICAL TIPS ON DIFFERENTIATING INSTRUCTION.
    WORMELI: Hey Laura how are you?
    GURICK: Good, how are you?
    WORMELI: Great. I’m ready to talk some differentiated instruction. What do you have for me today?

    SEE Laura at the computer, Rick listening.

    GURICK: So, I have a very diverse group of students, some at the very very high end of the class, who are accelerated and learn the material even before it is introduced in class. I’m having a little trouble with really hitting everybody and making sure that everybody has that appropriate challenge.
    WORMELI: How do you know these students are accelerated?
    GURICK: They are preparing for the SAT2 already, so they are taking a review class. They’ve already been taught in a review way what the topic is. They’ve gone through the book, they’ve gone through practice questions, they’ve had home works on it, and I haven’t taught a thing yet.

    Beat 2: Advice
    Graphic
    Tip: Begin with Assessment BEFORE A TEACHER CAN DIFFERENTIATE SUCCESSFULLY, SHE MUST ACCURATELY ASSESS THE LEVEL OF HER STUDENTS’ COMPETENCE.
    Intv Rick Wormeli WORMELI: Assessment has to be accurate in a differentiated class. If I make a decision based on false assessment data, the whole enterprise of teaching, let alone grading and whatever happens with the child’s future will also be based on this faulty premise.
    Graphic
    Tip: Assessment should be continuous to track student progress.

    Graphic
    Tip: Use exit slips or classroom discussion to assess student progress.
    ASSESSMENT SHOULD BE CONTINUOUS TO TRACK STUDENT PROGRESS.

    TEACHERS CAN PASS OUT AN INFORMAL QUESTIONAIRE BEFORE TEACHING A NEW CONCEPT TO GAUGE STUDENT KNOWLEDGE.

    USE ONGOING ASSESSMENTS LIKE EXIT SLIPS OR CLASSROOM DISCUSSION TO SEE WHO IS STRUGGLING AND PROVIDE ADDITIONAL SUPPORT AS NEEDED.

    Intv Rick Wormeli
    WORMELI: Every problem I write on my tests and quizzes I’m gonna say, ‘And which standard, or benchmark, or learning target is that?’ And the learning targets, where’s the evidence of that? Is that ample evidence? A grade is far more accurate when it’s clear, consistent over time, not one snapshot moment in time.

    See Skype conversation, Rick is on-screen.
    WORMELI: Okay. So, how do you deal with a variety of readiness levels in the same 43 minutes or 86 minutes?
    Gurick: Correct.
    WORMELI: All right, well how familiar are you with tiering? Have you studied that in your undergraduate or in service training?
    Gurick: Not formally yet, no.
    Graphic: Tip:
    Tier lessons to challenge all students A TEACHERS WHO TIERS A LESSON TEACHES THE SAME CONCEPT TO EVERYONE, BUT VARIES
    THE LEVEL OF COMPLEXITY TO ENGAGE ALL STUDENTS.
    WORMELI: lets choose one right now, that you have to teach. Let’s figure out, ok, what’s for the basic class and what can we do for the advanced students.
    GURICK: We just finished up gas laws.
    WORMELI: Ok, so name one that you’d want to get across.
    GURICK: The ideal gas law.
    WORMELI: Explain that for all those listening
    GURICK: It’s the equation used for ideal gases that allows us to figure out the pressure, temperature, volume relationships, while also changing the number of moles of a gas.
    WORMELI: What’s the basic thing you’d want students to be able to do at the end of that lesson?
    GURICK: Really just be able to look at and read a word problem, and be able to extract the information from the word problem, to put it into the formula and solve for an unknown.
    WORMELI: Can you have word problems where there’s lots of extraneous information that might confuse the students.
    (SKYPE) GURICK: They love that.
    Graphic: Tip
    Use word problems of varying complexity. WORMELI: I could have for those advanced kids some complex word problems where it’s not so obvious how you manipulate everything, and some where it’s very direct, very forward and slowly segway from one to the other for that lower introductory group.
    TIERING A LESSON ALLOWS ALL STUDENTS TO EXPERIENCE SUCCESS.
    Intv Rick Wormely WORMELI (INTV): Students of all ages crave competence and if they don’t get it they feel humiliated, they feel hurt, they feel angry. If I do something developmentally appropriate and they shine, they’re very motivated.

    SEE Skype conversation WORMELI: So, now, next steps right away based on what we talked about here, what’s going to happen for you and your lesson design in the next two or three days? What are some things you will change or try?
    GURICK: I think I definitely want to try diverging or splitting up the class in an organized way.
    Graphic: Tip
    Present concepts to the whole class, then tailor groups to differentiate
    WORMELI: You could do a global lesson for 10 – 15 minutes, and then really let people expand their own ways.

    These advanced students go off on another level that you’ve prepared for them that’s much more challenging, and these other kids are much more rudimentary, then the two or three groups come together and summarize what they’re able to pull out as salient from that.

    Intv Rick Wormeli Wormeli: I need to mix and match. I will put higher performing with lower performing sometimes. Sometimes I’ll put all higher performing, sometimes I’ll put all lower performing. It’s going to be very, very dynamic and you won’t always be in the same group.
    Graphic: Tip
    Group students by readiness level, interest or learning style READINESS LEVEL ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO GROUP STUDENTS IN A DIFFERENTIATED CLASSROOM.

    STUDENTS CAN ALSO BE GROUPED BASED ON INTERESTS OR LEARNING STYLES.

    Intv Rick Wormeli. We talk about flexible groups in the class as having these semi-permeable membranes. They’re very dynamic, they’re not static in their membership. And students can change that as long as they present evidence you’re ready to move onto this other station.
    SKYPE conversation WORMELI: Is there anything else?

    GURICK: I really want to go more into the research as well and try to get my hands on some Differentiating Instruction books to see what’s out there.
    WORMELI: There are books out there on differentiation, but you want to find the ones with chapters on scaffolding and tiering.
    WORMELI: You can’t just read one book and suddenly you know how to differentiate instruction. So I recommend usually 3 or 4 books in the very first year and you pull the stuff that works.

    ACT 3: Laura tries some of the new techniques

    SEE students in hallway, dissolve to Laura’s classroom

    We see Laura back in the BACK AT HERRICKS, LAURA HAS ADDED TIERING TO HER TEACHING TOOL KIT.

    Graphic (with a checkmark).
    Tier lessons to challenge all students

    Actuality of students in class writing.

    Intv Laura Gurick. GURICK: Using a different difficulty word problem has been helpful because the students then are able to work at their own level and be challenged at a level that’s suitable for them.
    Actuality of Gurick having students do an exit slip about gas laws. GURICK: Ok, so you’re going to give me a written description of what happened, why you think it happened, and which gas law is this?

    Graphic (with checkmark): Assess continuously to track student progress SHE IS USING EXIT SLIPS TO ASSESS STUDENT MASTERY OF NEW CONCEPTS.

    Bell rings, student leave class

    Graphic (without checkmark): Group students by readiness, interest, or learning style.

    BUT WORKING WITH GROUPS REMAINS A CHALLENGE.
    GURICK: It takes time. People don’t realize that grouping students takes a lot of time and a lot of preparation time. It’s a challenge to try to incorporate everything into every lesson.
    Intv Rick Wormeli Wormeli: It just seems overwhelming. It seems like sometimes, ok, I’m just going to do individualized plans for everybody. And nobody is asking anybody to do that. You don’t have to differentiate 24/7. It’s often just fine to have everyone do the exact same thing.

    Whole class instruction is a part of a differentiated class, but you’re going to have to realize there’ll be some flexible grouping, some independent stuff from time to time, and you wax and you wane through all that. That’s alright. I mean seriously, one differentiating idea per month for three years, that’s a teacher on pace for learning this.
    Intv Laura Gurick GURICK : I know that one day I will be an expert in differentiated instruction. It will not be today, it will not be tomorrow, it just takes a lot of time.
    Graphic: End Credits

School Details

Herricks High School
100 Shelter Rock Road
New Hyde Park NY 11040
Population: 1338

Data Provided By:

greatschools

Teachers

Laura Gurick
Science / 10 11 12 / Teacher

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