A Glimpse of Differentiation in a Core Lesson

from Teachers in the Trenches

I’ve learned the best way to differentiate, in order to reach all learners, is to do it right at the core of every lesson. I’d love to individualize instruction for every student, but with twenty-five to thirty children in the classroom it’s next to impossible. Catching as many learners as I can at the core of each lesson is my solution. The Merriam Webster definition of core is:

*a central and often foundational part usually distinct from the enveloping part by a difference in nature.*

The core of your lesson is the foundation upon which everything else is built. It makes sense to deliver each lesson with a conscious awareness of the different learning modalities. I keep the following learning modalities in mind when teaching my lessons…auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic.

When teaching new concepts, I begin with direct teaching of the concept. This method tailors to the auditory and visual learners, however I need to begin with a hook to grab the attention of everyone before I move onto direct teaching. I also have to be aware of the time span before boredom sets in. Attention span can be calculated by subtracting two from the age of the children. My kiddos are eight turning nine during the school year. Nine minus two equals seven. I have six to seven minutes to introduce the new concept directly before I need to change it up.

Let’s look at a math lesson on subtracting two digit numbers with regrouping.

**Hook:**I review the concept of regrouping from our previous lesson using base ten models by calling students to the front to help me.(visual, auditory)

**Direct Teaching:**I demonstrate subtraction directly with a problem on chart paper that will later become an anchor chart in the classroom for reference. I color code the ones and tens places. The students use the same colors to write the example in their Math Notebooks.(visual, auditory, kinesthetic)After a couple more demonstrations, my attention span time limit is up. So I have the students use wipe off boards with color markers for practice. They use the different colors for tens and ones places just like the examples in their notebooks. I give a couple of problems orally to the class. Students write the problems down. Next, I tell them to turn and talk through the process with “elbow partners”. (auditory, visual, kinesthetic)

**Assess on the Spot:**I circulate around the classroom to get an idea of who is grasping the concept and who is struggling and then I call the group’s attention back to me. At this point, I assign some problems from the math book for the students doing okay with the concept. I call the students that were struggling to the table with their wipe off boards to practice with me, using base ten models as necessary.(visual, auditory, tactile)

**Further Differentiation:**Something I need to mention is that I scrounge old math workbooks from the grade ahead of me to use for my students that need challenged, I assign problems from the corresponding lesson in the workbook from the grade ahead for those students in place of the problems assigned to the rest of the class.

Did you see all of the ways I differentiated in one lesson? It doesn’t take tremendous amounts of time to pre-plan. I’ve already made sure my classroom is stocked with the supplies needed. I didn’t plan an extravagant lesson. It was pretty simple and easy to implement and met the needs of all of my learners.

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