- Here is a peek at what I did last year with my students (Stations start in January this year). Click on the links on the sidebar to get to each station that my students participated in.
- For me, stations are highly planned for. Lots of data analysis goes into picking appropriate stations for each child. Here is a sample weekly rotation for my students (this changes each week). (NOT AVAILABLE YET - CHECK BACK TOMORROW.)
- Some stations are considered re-teaching, reinforcement, or skill-improvement, such as Math Station, Fluency, Guided Reading, Math Facts, and Timed Writing.
- Some stations are considered enrichment, acceleration or interest-based, such as Novel Study, SQUIRT, Writer's Workshop, Inquiry Study, Science/Social Studies, Art/Games, and C-TAC.
- Some stations are intended to assess or progress monitor all students, such as LCRSR and a few not currently listed.
- Math Station takes the skills that we are currently working on in our math class, and offers students hands-on activities or games to reinforce those concepts or skills. Only students in my math class participate in these activities. (We switch students for math.)
- Fluency Station has students whose oral reading fluency is currently at or below the current benchmark practicing reading a passage each week with one of the literacy assistants. Each week they get a new passage. They chart their progress. Students who consistently meet goals may exit this program early, otherwise they stay in until Spring Trimester when they are re-assessed.
- Guided Reading is a time where I work with students whose comprehension is at or below grade level on specific comprehension skills.
- Math Facts has my students using the iPads to practice their Multiplication and/or Division facts on PopMath.
- Timed Writing gives students who have difficulty completing their WEX writing pieces in 15 minutes a prompt that they are asked to finish in their time period. The goal here is to increase a student's writing stamina. (Of course, writing is not all about this skill, but it plays a part.)
Enrichment, Acceleration, and Interest-Based Stations:
- Novel Study allows students who enjoy literature a chance to work with others who have similar interests and abilities on reading and discussing a novel of their choice. Small assignments are included for me to monitor their comprehension, but the main goals are enjoyment of the book and learning from each other.
- SQUIRT stands for Sustained Quiet Un-Interrupted Reading Time. This is for my students who enjoy reading, but often feel held back during Literature Circles. Since they do not have discussions with others about their book, they instead have assignments that must be completed for me to monitor their comprehension.
- Writer's Workshop has been sorely missed since we adopted our new writing program. Students need time to write about topics of their own choosing in genres that they prefer. This is their chance! I still conference with them, and they still follow the steps of the writing process.
- Inquiry Studies are chances for my students to research topics of interest to them that don't necessarily connect with our curriculum. They must choose a specific topic to learn more about, and then report out their learning by creating a Prezi, Glogster, Google Presentation, or any other format to show off their learning.
- Science or Social Studies Station gives students a chance to learn topics that are not in our curriculum that I choose! We analyzed types of leaves, discovered locations on Google Earth, and created timelines of events in history on TimeGlider.
- Art Station is a chance for my creative kids to create! I go to dozens of garage sales all summer searching for cheap art supplies. I set out a bunch of them and let them have at it! Their only requirement is to clean up before their station time is over!
- Games Station is a critical thinking center with games from MindWare and other Gifted Education stores. Some games are just ordinary board games with educational twists!
- C-TAC stands for Choice-Time Activity Center. These are packets of critical- or creative-thinking puzzles, or other challenging thinking activities. Answer keys and Directions are provided with all packets so students can teach themselves or each other as they work on them (immediate feedback).
Assessment and Progress-Monitoring of all Students:
- LCRSR stands for Lit Circle Role Sheet Review. This is where all students get feedback on how they are doing with their 3x per week assignment in Literature Circles. Regular feedback ensures that no one regresses, and no one does something consistently wrong for too long.
- The same idea has been done with Math homework, writing pieces, etc. It is basically a chance to work 1-on-1 with each of my students!
My personal favorite way to differentiate instruction for all of my students is to vary my expectations! Sounds like a cop-out, but it really works!
- Students who are extremely capable of doing the task you have assigned should be expected to achieve at a higher level than those who you know struggle at that task.
- When students underwhelm, it's time to motivate and re-direct!
- When students overwhelm, it's time to congratulate and reinforce!
- By doing this, most of my students and parents over the past 14 years have been extremely satisfied with the level of challenge available to their child. When I've had complaints, they've been that I expected too much. So I've used that feedback to temper my expectations of all, but I still provide rigor and I always want my kids to continue to work hard.
Some natural ways to differentiate for children in a 21st Century Classroom is to use more:
- Problem-Based Learning scenarios
- Challenge-Based Learning scenarios
- Group activities (monitor closely to prevent one person doing everything)
Whenever we do simulations or PBL in our classroom, everyone ends up working their hardest! They want to succeed. They want to learn more - because it's so much fun! I never hear kids complain that Johnny isn't doing his fair share when it comes to a PBL or simulation assignment. I seem to hear more, "Jimmy won't let me have a turn typing." or "Sarah did everything on the poster and didn't give us our turns." Of course, those are valuable learning lessons in a 21st Century Classroom! :)
Check out some of my simulations that I have created for my 5th graders:
Finally, I offer Carol Ann Tomlinson's ideas. Twelve years ago, I wrote my masters thesis on differentiating instruction for all learners. To this day, no one does it better than Carol Ann. My favorite three books on differentiation are still: