Planning Lessons with Differentiated Instruction in Mind
I’d like to start this welcome page by saying that I understand the frustrations that sometimes accompany differentiating instruction. This site is meant to be interactive and helpful for anyone looking to design or find differentiated instruction lesson plans for their classroom. Please browse this site and check back often for new ideas. I hope you will also take a moment to leave a comment or share this site with friends and colleagues. With that said, I realize that you are probably very busy, so, to save you some time, Click Here for the best rated differentiation resources on Amazon.com.
If you have a success story or tips to share with other teachers, please leave a comment at the bottom of any post that interests you. I’ll be glad to approve any helpful tips or stories that are submitted in the comments section. I know that a lot of people don’t have their own website, but still have plenty of great ideas to share. Sometimes we mistakenly assume that great ideas are common knowledge. Usually they are not. Please share what you know or have tried in your classroom! If you have a blog or other website, please help people to find this site by adding us to your blogroll. Thanks in advance, and I hope you find something useful here!
How Do I Differentiate Lessons?
Interested in differentiating? I’m updating this welcome page right now because I came across something (free) that I think is potentially very useful. Sometimes, when it comes to differentiating instruction, it is easy to fall into the trap of just using what might be called “traditional” classroom tools. Projects that can be hung on a wall are great, but today’s kids are surrounded by so much action that you might want to try a different approach. This is especially true with students who might be resistant to the “normal” things we do in school. If you have spent any time in a classroom at all, you have certainly come across these students. They are the ones that they don’t really prepare you for when you are reading books and learning about theories in college.
Hey, you were just differentiated! What I mean is, I found a different way of presenting some thoughts on teaching. Do you think your students would like to make a video like that instead of giving an oral report in front of the class? Check out my post on Differentiating with Video. By the way, you can make videos like that for free (up to 30 seconds) with your own photos and videos at Animoto.com.
Anyway… If you are taking the time to search for differentiated instruction lesson plans, chances are, you do not really need a definition of what differentiated instruction is or an explanation of how it will make your classroom a better place. That is what the in-service days are supposed to teach you. Even so, I’ll include plenty of helpful information and videos here. What you need is a connection to the most effective differentiation resources out there. I hope you will find those here.
If you have recently been introduced to the concept of differentiating instruction, there is a very good chance that you are feeling just a little bit of pressure, possibly bordering on panic. This comes as a result of wondering how in the world you are going to accommodate all of the different learning styles and abilities in your classroom. Throw in some ideas about inclusive classrooms, variance, co-teaching models, multiple intelligences and other current educational topics, and the pressure really mounts as you try to do your best to follow guidelines, improve as a teacher and actually teach a roomful of children who just want to act like kids. Depending on your current surroundings, you may also feel as though this has to be done yesterday. If you are a teacher with years of successful classroom experience, you probably have some other thoughts running through your mind as well as you look for ways to blend current models with your own experience. Right?
What is Differentiated Instruction?
Differentiating instruction is all about taking the actual student into account when planning for lessons. It is a simple idea, but one that can be quite intimidating when you are used to dealing with a whole class model. Sometimes when the idea of differentiating instruction is introduced to teachers, it comes across sounding as though there will need to be a different lesson plan for each child in every subject. Actually, differentiating instruction does not have to be anywhere near that extreme. This is a video of Ken Robinson. He has an entertaining, yet thoughtful, take on how our current system of education has come about. His thoughts on appreciating the creativity of children make sense and anyone going into teaching should give them a listen. You may want to read more by Ken Robinson after you watch it.
If you are being guided toward using a differentiated model in your classroom, there is a VERY good chance that the people in charge are basing their decision on research done by experts like Carol Ann Tomlinson. She is considered one of the more knowledgeable people in the field of differentiating instruction to fit the needs of all students. If you feel like you need some type of basic training or possibly a survival manual, you would be wise to check out any of these books by Carol Ann Tomlinson. They are broken down by grade levels as well as ability. They also serve as a very solid base for understanding the principles involved in differentiating instruction. That is to say, you will learn both what is, and what is not true differentiation. Check them out.
Finding Ways to Differentiate Instruction
The goal of this site is extremely simple. Helpful articles and videos will be posted to aid teachers making the transition to differentiated instruction. Top rated guides and books related to differentiated instruction will also be shown and offered for sale here. Yes, you can spend a few hours digging around the Internet for plans for each lesson if you prefer. You might even find some lesson plans and advice offered for free. What this site will offer is links to materials that have been purchased and used by fellow teachers. I do not really believe in reinventing the wheel if it can be avoided. Call me crazy, but it is worth it to me to spend ten dollars on a book if it saves me ten hours of searching for, and organizing information. The lesson plans and other resources featured here will have received high ratings from the people who are already differentiating their lessons and who have actually purchased and used these products in their classrooms. My hope is that this will help teachers to gain an understanding of differentiation and hit the ground running as they find the best ways to make it work in their classrooms with their own students. These will be resources with practical applications that will help you as you work to adjust yourself and your classroom to a differentiated model of teaching.
Another reason I have chosen to build this site is to showcase items with an affordable price tag. If you have ever visited a specialty teacher store, you know that you can easily spend a couple of hundred dollars on supplies for your classroom and still manage to carry everything to the car in one trip. If your district is investing in getting your classroom differentiated, I’m happy for you. If however, the burden of setting up engaging centers and fascinating stations and has fallen on your shoulders, the links provided here should save you some money. Here is a link to see low priced activities for differentiated classrooms.
My own past quests for teaching supplies led me to Amazon. I never realized how many teaching supplies were available on Amazon until I started searching online out of frustration. The prices are at least comparable on almost any teaching supplies you could want.
Usually they are better than what I was able to find at the nearest teacher store. The selection is pretty good too. Another bonus is that they are such a well established company. That means that your order will actually arrive when and where you need it.
You can go directly to Amazon to search things out on your own, but I hope you will use my links to these products. I have spent a fair amount of time sorting these for you so that you will only find useful items. You probably do not want to read another college textbook. If you do buy through one of my links, I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon (it doesn’t change your price). That commission will in turn allow me to retire early and buy an island, or at least a cup of coffee on the way to work! I hope you will find something here that helps you and your students as you set up your own differentiated classroom. Please follow this link if you would like to jump straight to a list of resources for differentiated instruction lesson plans.
If you have a success story related to differentiating instruction in your classroom, please leave a comment below. I’m sure that it would inspire others as they look for ways to reach the children in their classrooms!
Here is a very helpful link for teachers who want to learn more about differentiated instruction in the classroom.