There are so many ways to differentiate, from the complex multi-text tiered assignments with flexible grouping (the “Martha Stewart”) to very low preparation options. A great list of high and low preparation options can be found in Carol Ann Tomlinson’s How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Here are some of my favorite low preparation options:
Ø multiple levels of questions
Ø homework options
Ø choice options
In the last week, I have employed the following low preparation differentiation strategies to meet the diverse needs of my students.
Ø I used a “Caught Ya” as my warm-up in class. A “Caught Ya” consists of a few sentences with grammatical mistakes that students correct. After reading the sentences, I usually give the students one hint about a mistake that is easy to correct (“Look out for un-capitalized proper names!”) and one hint about a mistake that is harder to find or correct (“For those of you who want a challenge, we need a semicolon, too.”)
Ø Homework choices that focused on either writing or social studies content knowledge
Ø Student choice concerning which learning targets I would assess
Ø My students summarized The Declaration of Independence and then re-wrote it as a break-up letter to King George III. Every student listened to a recording of the DOI and read along. They then chose different options to rewrite the letter. As they started to take summary notes, some students used the DOI with explanatory notes, some students used a simple English version of the DOI, and some students used a Spanish version with explanatory notes.
Ø Multiple levels of questions. Williams Model is an excellent source of questions for your TAG and highly capable students. (http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/policies/gats/assets/pdf/uhsi3hstanzac.pdf)
BOTTOM LINE: Low preparation differentiation is a great way to get started immediately to meet the needs of all the students who will show up in your classroom tomorrow!