This page is for educators to share their views and ideas for differentiating instruction in the classroom. It is divided into elementary, middle, high and any level.

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ELEMENTARY IDEAS

I use mnemonics frequently in all subjects to remember key facts, planet order in science is one that comes to mind. Learning the water cycle proved challenging for my class this year and my student teacher came up with a clever song and dance to teach that concept that was really effective, and one that I'll continue to use. I use a visual color clue for making multiplication study guides. After the zero table is learned, I have students copy the facts learned in the previous table in red colored pencil. (Red for review.) As we progress through the tables, they notice that there are more facts known than unknown. This strategy makes learning the daunting 7,8,and 9 tables less difficult. In the last several years, I have had students with anger management and emotional issues that seemed more pronounced during transition times. I use the "3 C,s" as a gentle reminder as they leave our classroom. "Be cool, be calm, be collected.

In my Kindergarten classroom I frequently use music and rhythm to help students learn. Over the years, I have adapted many of the learning songs I use so that they have motions as well as words. One of the best examples is a song about letter sounds (to help children learn what sound each letter makes.) For all 26 letters we sing the letter and the sound it makes while making a fun and meaningful motion (h for hop: /h/h/h/, while hopping one on foot, etc.) At the primary level these methods are doubly important because the various intelligences may be incorporated to reinforce content as well as to serve as smooth transitions/ stretch/ refueling times for those with short attention spans.

I incorporated many of the strategies for differentiating instruction in my classroom. The music and rhythm strategy is one I use most often. I use songs for teaching vowel sounds. In Math I incorporate music to drill addition and subtraction facts. The music is titled "Rap-Ability". I have also used mnemonics as a tool to remember important concepts.

I have found the use of mnemonics to be very successful in my classroom this year. We are constantly trying to come up with little sayings or clues to help us remember things. The one we practiced this week was in spelling. Students were having a tough time with the word friendly. They like to switch the i and end. Well, we would all like our friENDs to stick with us to the END. We also sing a song to help us remember the continents. We also use a mnemonic to help us remember the planets in the correct order.

While teaching Kindergarten for 8 weeks I was able to incorporate many different strategies. I used a lot of music and rhythm to help the students memorize letter sounds. I also used mnemonics to help students with their phonics lessons. Currently I'm teaching 5th grade Social Studies and I haven't used music and rhythm with the older students but I do still use mnemonics.

When I sit and think about it, I found that I use various methods of differentiated instruction in my classroom. I use a lot of leveled group and one-on-one instruction with students. We clap out spelling words and syllables in words. I also found a way to introduce contractions which are always difficult for 1st graders. I taught them that the original words were the "Peter Parker" words and then "Spiderman" puts his mask over certain letters to make the new "Spiderman" contraction. They seem to like this! I show a lot of videos to go with lessons for visual learners. In math we use a lot of manipulatives and to show horizontal and vertical problems I have the students stand vertical or lay on the floor horizontal for them to understand those words. These hands on approaches seem to work! These are just some things I'm doing in my class to differentiate and to try to hit all the levels of students' learning.

I use all four DI strategies within my room regularly but find I use the “body as a learning tool" and “music and rhythm" the most often because they are the two strategies my kids enjoy the most. I know as teachers we allow our students to move periodically around the room, travel to recess, or other places within the school environment however, a majority of the day is spent sitting behind their desks. I find students learn best by moving and doing so I try to get them moving as much as possible. The movement is combined with music or some type of rhythm to aid them in recalling whatever we are doing. For example we learn the continents using a dance or we tap out spelling words in rhythm. In math class we just learned about factors. To help the students learn how to find the factors of a number they first separate their arms to their side and then bring them to the front of their bodies as they say in unison factors, factors, factors. This serves as a reminder that a number has a beginning factor and an ending one and when the two numbers meet in the middle they have found all of the factors for that particular number. We also use our arms to demonstrate different types of angels (acute, obtuse, right). A mnemonic tool the students have just learned is Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally for the order of operations. I try to utilize learning strategies as well. For example in language when we are comparing two items the students remember ER consists of two letters so it is used to compare two items while EST has three letters so we use that to compare three or more items. The most important thing I think is doing whatever you can to help the student succeed and sometimes that means looking silly but if you don’t mind, the kids will LOVE it and be thankful for your help.

While teaching the body systems students wrote their own song about bones and then performed it for the class. During a science lesson on states of matter students acted out how particles in each state of matter moved. I have found that acting out concepts seems to get students interested in the topic as well as help them remember information much more easily. To remember vocabulary terms in science students often use association to a letter or part of the word to help recall the definitions.

One of my favorite movement based activities is using a large analog floor clock. Students enjoy using their arms and legs as the hands of the clock to show and tell time. I use this activity with many other hands on telling time centers and groups within my telling time unit. Students love getting on the floor and pretending to be the clock. This activity is used in place of your basic use of flash cards.

I have found that songs or just music really help some kids remember things. We often make up songs for vocab words we have problems with. A;so mnemonics are great tools to help them remember things for lists or essay questions. Sometimes just saying things in a funny way helps them remember - anyway they can make a connection will help them remember things.

Using your body was a neat idea and it is always with you!!

MIDDLE SCHOOL IDEAS

I teach sixth grade English. One example of something similar to mnemonics is this: The students struggle with memorizing the definition for adverbs (modifies verbs, adjectives, other adverbs). We have them write the word "adverb" and see the "ad" as pointing to "adjective." Then they see the "verb" as the second part of the answer and the whole word as the third part of the answer. It does work for some kids.
We also use the old grammar rock videos (Using music and rhythm) and they are always helpful.

My course is title research skills. The students do a variety of research project to teach research strategies. The next project will require the students to research musicians who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and write a short speech about his or her life. In order to differentiate for the gifted student in my class I will ask her to select an artist who is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and make her speech a case as to why he or she should.


SECONDARY IDEAS

I'm a big fan of choices, so I consistently employ them. If we're writing an essay, I give enough choices to make students feel comfortable. If I provide a project, I'll give different tasks or give alternate assignments. I also encourage higher-learners to succeed by giving them competition amongst one another or using bonus points as a method of convincing.

There are a few ways that I use DI in my classes. 1. For many classes (I teach 11th and 12th grade), I do learning stations to review various concepts. I put students in groups and they move, most times, around the room to 4 different stations to review or work on things. The movement breaks up the class.
2. I also use flashcards with my students. We use them in elementary school and often forget about them in high school. I have students make them, so the reinforcement of writing words and definitions down, I believe, enhances learning. 3. Often with literature I give students the opportunity to set words to songs, original or otherwise. 4. I also use mnemonics. My students, when they are preparing for the SAT or AP exams, know to go with Poe. POE is process of elimination. We practice it with exercises. We also in 11th grade student the Knickerbocker writers as the Bic writers--Bryant, Irving, and Cooper the three authors who make up the group. 5. Finally, to begin every year, I give out a survey on which students simply answer "yes" or "no." Based on adding up points for their responses, the survey gives them study strategies to get the most out of their studying. The survey is based on categories of multiple intelligences.

I use mnemonics to help remember various math steps. I set kids up in groups with mixed abilities to help ensure success of all students, while some are working in groups I instruct others. In my algebra classes often times we'll write an equation on a piece of paper and then cut the equation apart so we have can move the appropriate pieces to solve the equations. The kids seem to enjoy this part of class because they are moving and have an opportunity to think aloud or in small groups.

When teaching needle arts and crafts, specifically crocheting, we use a song to teach single crochet.... go in, pull through, wrap and pull through two....it works and students will tell me they still use it.

I also teach cuts of beef - tender and less tender - by comparing it to a student. They of course volunteer to be a steer so we can point out each cut. They have fun doing it and when it is time for a test, they tell me they can visualize the cuts because of the student volunteer.
Analyze a Primary Source (Federalist Papers) as a means for teaching students how to confront a historical document, the questions to ask of it, and how to critically examine information they receive. Create a chart that guides students to establish context and purpose for the source to be evaluated and interpreted. The source should be examined; including its authenticity/reliability and consequences/outcomes.

IDEAS FOR ANY LEVEL

I still sing times table songs in my head when I do multiplication! Music definitely worked for me!
In my classroom we use mnemonics to remember important concepts. I have also used movement. In my Social Studies classes I have the students act out events in history. When teaching about the layers of Earth's Crust I used movement. Children stood in circles representing each layer.

I try and include students into the decision making process of what we are going to create in the labs. I try to incorporate a hands-on activity with each concept that we are covering so if a student doesn't understand the written word, then they can grasp the concept with hands on.

I have used the body as a learning tool strategy while teaching transformations in math. I had the students show flips, slides and turns by using their bodies. I incorporated rhythm and music to help students learn helping verbs...we sang them to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down." I found that mnemonics appear to really help students remember information. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally works well for remembering the order of operations in math. Students also learned about mean, median, and mode using mnemonics. MOde occurs the MOst and the median is in the middle- like the median in the road.

I tend to use a variety of delivery methods for instruction. For some of my students simply reading is instruction enough and there are some students are able to grasp the information just by being able to see it whereas others need the hands on instruction.

Small group instruction and paired instruction works best for some students whereas whole group instruction works better for a majority of my students. The small cooperative groups tend to stressful for some, they feel they don't have as much to offer as the other members of the class.
I also have a way to allow my learning support students to let me know they are ready to answer a question just by a little signal or look they give me so that they are certain they provide the correct answer.

Because of the nature of my position, as a remedial teacher, I tend to vary my instruction greatly. All of my classes at some point get direct instruction that typically follows the lecture format. However, all the classes are also in some way formatted to the students I have. Many of my younger students in both reading and math use manipulatives. Base 10 blocks and letter tiles are some of my and their favorites. However I also differentiate through the use of memory games, white board races, songs, listening bunnies, and leveled readers. In my position it truly depends on what the students respond to most and then we go from there.

DI changed the way I teach all students...

I started out as a teacher who taught the way I was taught - oral reading, notes, test (for the most part). I did occasional projects. Then I encountered a student who couldn't do any of these things. He could barely stay in his desk let alone read aloud, copy notes, etc. He was so bright that I had to help him succeed. First, I began letting all of my students do lots of board work. We did math and spelling and diagrammed sentences. It got them out of their seats on a regular basis. Next, I started using study guides and skeleton outlines instead of writing notes on the board or overhead. I also let the students work in pairs to do flashcards or graphic organizers. A fellow teacher gave me the idea of "clock buddies" (depending on time of day) to determine the pairings.

I like flexible grouping, but do use leveled groups for some reading activities.

This year I have students who struggle with spelling. I am so open to suggestions for this! I have tried pre-testing the students daily on parts of the spelling list. It has helped somewhat.

One last thing I have done (since watching the William Bender video) is role-playing. This week, we will act out the triangular trade in Social Studies. Each group created props representing the goods traded. We will designate 3 desks as the countries involved. Each group will present the process for a grade. Hopefully the movement and repetition will help the students learn this information - it is an essay on the chapter test.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I use a lot of these strategies in speech therapy. When teaching placement of articulators for correct speech production, we use other body parts to imitate where the tongue is placed. Mnemonics is a very useful strategies when teaching vocabulary and study skills to a student with limited vocabulary. One of the most used strategies in speech therapy is self-monitoring. The student needs to monitor his/her own speech production throughout all settings. Finally, music and rhythm are used with preschool and kindergarten therapy. Nursery Rhymes contain a lot of beginning sounds.


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