How do I Differentiate Instruction?

Meeting kids where they are: Differentiating I...

Meeting kids where they are: Differentiating Instruction (Photo credit: Wesley Fryer)

Our school district is collecting data on the idea of removing all honors classes from the junior and senior high schools.  The theory is that teachers can differentiate instruction in the classroom to challenge the students at their different abilities.

I have done this in the past by offering extra credit assignments to students who want to push themselves beyond the curriculum.  For example, while studying oral traditions (folk tales, mythology, etc.)  students can research mythologies from other cultures other than Greek/Roman.  According to the picture above, this seems to be ok.

I have to admit, though, that I am a neophyte on differentiated instruction.  Offering extra credit to challenge students does not seem to be true differentiated instruction.  Some kids prefer to challenge themselves in a different manner than completing extra work in English / Language Arts class.  For example, Tina has an A in class and is the lead in the school musical.  She would rather challenge herself with theater, which is her passion.  She wants to be an actress.

I think I should be grouping the students and assigning them different projects based on previous grades or standardized test scores. I have begun to research and ideas are bouncing around my brain like popcorn in the microwave bag.

I could use some feedback from folks in education and those of you who have other life experiences.

1. What do you think about eliminating honors classes?

2. Do you have any ideas how I may incorporate differentiated instruction in my classroom?

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8 Comments

Filed under 21st century skills, Education, Learning, Lesson Plans

8 responses to “How do I Differentiate Instruction?

  1. I think this is a horrible idea, because I don’t think you CAN differentiate instruction enough.
    I remember reading Romeo and Juliet in CP English 9; some of the students didn’t grasp the basic plot points or motivations, which made discussion sort of impossible in class. When I moved to Honors 10 next year, we were reading and doing a lot more than the kids in the college prep classes, and this only accelerated as we got to AP English, which was basically Intro to Literature that I ended up taking at Capital University the next year. These classes are really what prepared me for my English Degree and gave me the skills to do well in college, as well as giving me an idea of the workload that a humanities degree required. Not only was a prepared workload wise, but I’d already read many of the books required thanks to the excellent preparation my high school teachers had given me, so I was ready to do more work with the texts.
    For contrast, my brother took the college prep track. He didn’t read half the things I did, and when, later post-college, he wanted to be an English teacher, he had a lot of catching up to do, because the tests required to be an English teacher require a vast amount of literary knowledge. They had eliminated the college prep classes in PLSD by the time he was going through.
    I’m not a teacher, so I don’t know how you would incorporate the varying instruction–I would say having class discussions would be more difficult, as would group work. Things like allowing more challenging essays or projects might be one way to do it.

  2. Pingback: Meeting Kids Where They Are « Mme g.c.

  3. I found this youtube which may be of interest to you. The relevant part starts around the 15 minute part where it talks about TM in schools and the benefits both from a teacher’s perspective and a student’s perspective.

  4. Kathy Waites

    I can only comment as a mother of a bright and talented student (though not necessarily in English) who needs to be challenged and rises to the challenge but will NOT challenge himself by doing anything extra. He does not do optional work, only what is required. This is, of course, unfortunate for him but I am not convinced that extra credit is the best way to properly challenge all students that could benefit from the challenge. For the record, I am against doing away with honors classes. I believe that proper class placement for all serves everyone better, including those that are not up for the challenge.

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