Adding Enrichment and Differentiation to Your Classroom: One Step At a Time!


One of the most important strategies to use in a classroom that prioritizes differentiation involves the dynamics of the "floor plan". 

Clustering your gifted or advanced students together in the classroom is extremely important and now required by many school districts. Not only do gifted students feel more comfortable to explore their academic talents at a greater depth when they are surrounded by their peers; but they are also able to work cooperatively on projects together that may be at an advanced level above their peers.

This is not to say that there shouldn't be times when heterogeneous grouping shouldn't be valued or utilized with class projects as we have all seen the values of combining struggling learners with the advanced students.  But in a day to day basis; gifted students need the level of intellectual stimulation offered by their academic peers in order to soar to new academic heights.

When I was a regular classroom teacher with a gifted cluster classroom I utilized a "pretest" or informal assessment for every unit in order to determine my "game plan" for my gifted students or any students who exceeded proficiency before the unit was even taught.  Over the years I brainstormed many enrichment ideas and strategies; some to great success, and others that were extremely impossible to manage.  

Once I started using menus, choiceboards, independent projects, task cards, webquests and other differentiation strategies everything became quite easy.  The only challenge was finding the quality materials that provided the rigor I needed.   This was a difficult task; therefore, I began creating my own differentiated materials.

Every student that required the extra enrichment was provided with a set of project choices that they could be working while the others were engaged in learning.

Once the students had determined which projects they would be doing, they would sign an "Enrichment Contract" each week that would remain attached to their "Enrichment Folder" cover at all times.  This allowed me to check immediately as to  whether or not they were on task.

The students were expected to have the list of "Enrichment Expectations" in their "Enrichment Folders" at all times as a reminder of the multitude of responsibility that goes along with independent work.

If the students chose to create their own project proposal for a topic, they would fill out the following proposal and keep it in their "Enrichment Folder."

There will be times when students are simply not “on track” and are not able to handle working independently.  At this time I require them to fill out an “Instant Progress Update” form.

Differentiating or enriching the curriculum in a classroom takes preparation, organization and the ability to find or create a multitude of challenging materials.  However, the results are invaluable and students who are traditionally bored will begin to see education as an asset and not just a part of the process to advance to the next level.  
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