Hearing the word differentiation for many teachers is like scraping fingernails across a chalkboard. Differentiation is a real challenge for most teachers because it requires more planning on top of the planning that we do in general. Adding to the challenge of differentiation are the administrators, some veteran, who have not been properly trained on the many different ways that differentiation can look and sound like in a classroom.Teachers that teach grades K-3, I think, have a much more difficult task of differentiating their instruction because there are so many moving parts. Guided Reading groups and small group reading is a way to differentiate instruction in the primary grades but many teachers stop right there because they do not realize that
their literacy centers need to be differentiated too! Small group instruction is strongly encouraged in the younger grades, but as teachers we know that every child is not at the same grade or maturity level. Take my class for example, I have 4 different reading groups that I meet with at some point during the week. I have 12 students who range from non readers to beginning readers. This caused so many problems during Reading Workshop because the 12 students who are below grade level and cannot do 1st grade work. So, I decided to differentiate the groups by color coding the students and the center folders. One of Guided Reading’s suggested centers is read to someone. At this center the students are supposed to partner read with another student. I knew that this was going to be a problem because I had 26 students and 12 of them were struggling readers. So, I decided to create 3 folders with different books that represented different reading level books. I also included differentiated response logs for this center so that my beginning readers would have the opportunity to write about what they read at their level.During Reading Workshop the students go to the read to someone center get their folder and reading with another student that has been assigned to that center. I change my books every week so that the students do not become bored with the center.The books that I use in this center were purchased by the school district, but decodeable readers or any book will do as long as they are different reading levels.If you would like to learn more about differentiating your learning centers, you can access my FREE how to guide. Please feel free to comment below or chat with me on twitter I’d love to hear what you think!