By Gina Kennedy

By Gina Kennedy

Differentiation Doesn't Have to be on Your "To Do" list; Easy Strategies to Move it to Your "Do" List!

   I hear many teachers say they would like to add differentiation to their curriculum; but it is too difficult to find the resources to do it correctly as well as being too time consuming to put it into place. Implementing differentiation into your classroom does not have to be difficult,  there are easy ways to start offering multiple opportunities for students to learn even if it means incorporating a few enrichment activities with each unit of study.  
    The benefits from offering even a few extended learning opportunities for your students will open up a world of exploration and inquiry that transform your classroom from a place of tiresome routine to a place of engaging discovery.  I'm going to share some of the ways that I have already differentiated the curriculum in my classroom this year with simple teacher friendly strategies.

     "What's the Question?"  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I change the answer.  The students work with partners and develop a set of at least four expressions equivalent to the answer.  I set simple guidelines.  In each expression you must use three different operations and have one set of parenthesis.  They place their "sticky answer" on the answer board and we share a few responses together.

    "Quick and Easy Weekly Enrichment Research Projects":  I developed this research enrichment program last year and it has proven to be the easiest and simplest way to add enrichment, rigor and research opportunities to my classroom routine.
     This program is easy to manage and extremely rewarding for my students.   When my students finish their work at any given point during the week they are responsible for completing their math weekly research project and posting their response on a large sticky note.
     On Mondays I introduce the research projects for the week ahead. The research projects are math related and correlated to grade appropriate standards.  On Fridays we share their responses to their projects.  At the end of the year each student creates a scrapbook with all of the research that they have completed throughout the year by compiling their sticky notes.
    I use the larger post-it notes as some of the responses are quite lengthy.  The students love these projects and they have something to look forward to when they have completed their work.

   I have created this "Weekly Math Enrichment Research" program for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade and it may be purchased using the links below:

"Spice Up Your Non-Fiction Reading Routine: Wacky Science Wednesday":  Every Wednesday my 5th graders read non-fiction informational text trade books with science topics, historical topics or other topics of their choice.  I've been purchasing these non-fiction books for years at bookstores, online or other venues.  I place the books in a basket and they choose which book and topic they'd like to read about that week
     I have developed three types of non-fiction book report templates that include enrichment projects or differentiated choices.  I rotate the templates each week.  The students love this time and decided to call it "Knowledge Wednesday".   
     I have bundled the book report templates and projects into one product so that you can start having "Knowledge Wednesday's" in your classroom as well.  I've included the link below if you'd like to purchase this product.
This is one of the projects my students completed using one of the non-fiction book report templates we use on "Wacky Science Wednesday

"What Does....?  Enrichment Writing"  Each week I post a higher level question on the board that starts with "what does".  The question can pertain to any topic from current events to a celebrity to one of the concepts we are learning about in class.  When the students are finished with all of their work, they compose their answer and attach it to the wall.  We share their short compositions on Fridays.  I've included a link to print off sample "What Does" questions for your classroom.