GRADES7&8The ability to systematically and thoroughly meet the needs ofthe individual learners in your care is central to the importantwork you do as an intermediate teacher. Thank you for thatReach EveryStudent throughDifferentiatedInstructionwork. We look forward to supporting you in your continuingefforts to Reach Every Student.ISBN 978-1-4249-8816-7 (Print) • ISBN 978-1-4249-8817-4 (PDF)© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2009 Printed on recycled paper
Meet thediverse needsof youngadolescentsFor More InformationHere is a sampling of publications and websites that are available.Think LiteracyTIPS4RMEducation for AllResources to Help YouGuides to Effective Instruction in Reading and Mathematics K-6Me Read? No, Way! A practical guide to improving boys’ literacy skillsSupporting Student Success in Literacy, Grades 7-12 –Effective Practices of Ontario School BoardsTeaching and Learning Mathematics – the Report of the ExpertPanel on Mathematics in Grades 4 to 6 in OntarioLeading Math Success – Mathematical Literacy Grades 7-12Literacy for Learning – The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacyin Grades 4 to 6 in OntarioMany Roots, Many Voices: Supporting English Language Learnersin Every Classroom – A practical guide for Ontario educatorswww.ontario.ca/6wayswww.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teachers/“Differentiated instructionjust makes sense in today’sdiverse classrooms.”Teacher
Your Students Need YouOccurring at a time of intense physical,emotional and intellectual growth,grades 7 and 8 are hugely importantyears. Intermediate teachers seestudents through an incredible array ofdevelopmental changes. By recognizingand responding to the interests,preferred ways of learning, and specificlearning needs of individual students,we ensure that we reach every studentso they will experience success in theintermediate grades, in later grades, andin their lives beyond school.Meet the diverse needs of young adolescentsRespond throughDifferentiated InstructionThis brochure provides starting pointsfor responding to the diversity ofour learners through differentiatedor responsive instruction. It is just oneof several resources in a multi-facetedprofessional learning strategy. TheMinistry of Education and teacherfederations are pleased to be yourpartner in ensuring the success ofevery grade 7 and 8 student inOntario.
Essentials ofDifferentiationDIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION:A DEFINITIONDifferentiated instruction is effectiveinstruction that is responsive to students’readiness, interests and learning preferences.All three characteristics of the learner –readiness, interests and preferences – alloweducators and students to build new learningthrough connections to existing knowledgeand preferred ways of working.Build on Success• Anchor activities are activities which all students in your class areable to do independently and with minimum noise or disruption.For example, silent reading is an anchor, as is daily journal writing.Gradually introduce differentiation during an anchor activity.For example, meet with a small group when others are journalwriting. Build groupings over time until eventually you havemultiple small group activities occurring simultaneously.Anticipate and Prevent Problems• Visualize a lesson so you can anticipate possible problems with theprocess. Make sure students know where to pick up handouts,how to ask for help, or anything else that you think might be anissue. Be prepared to have your students practise new proceduresfor a while before they become habits.When You Start to DifferentiateThe process of differentiating instructionfor students depends on the ongoing useof assessment to gather information aboutwhere students are in their learning andabout their readiness, interests and learningpreferences.Teachers use this information tovary the learning environment, instruction,and assessment and evaluation.Readiness refers to the student’s startingpoint for learning, relative to the conceptbeing studied.Attention to students’ interests enhances therelevancy of learning by linking new informationto students’ experience and enthusiasm.Learning preferences are the many differentways in which learners prefer to acquire,process and work with information.Learning preferences are influenced bygender, culture, the classroom environment,learning styles and multiple intelligences.Collaborate with Students• Talk with your students. Explain what you are doing and why.Young adolescents need ownership for their learning. They willget some of that through the choices you provide. They, and you,will also benefit from the rapport that is built when you makeyour thinking and your concerns apparent and you invitetheir input.
When You Start toDifferentiateDI From the Classroom Teacher’sBegin with the StudentWhen we believe that it is our students whoare the starting point for our unit and lessonplanning, not the course content or textbook,we try to live that belief by getting to knowour students’ learning needs and preferencesand then responding to that knowledgethrough the opportunities we provide inour classrooms. Most of us do that now, tovarying degrees; learning about differentiatedinstruction helps us to further develop alreadyeffective practices.Essentials of DifferentiationCurriculum ExpectationsWhen we differentiate instruction, we areneither forgetting about nor ignoring thecurriculum expectations. Indeed, unlessmodifying for a student with an IEP, we holdexpectations constant and begin planning byclearly identifying both the expectations andthe appropriate assessments.
Quick Waysto Know YourStudentsChoose How to Work• Let students choose the order of completion when theyhave multiple tasks to do.• Allow students to choose whether to work alone or witha partner for some tasks.• Provide students with a wide variety of resources includingtechnology, books at various reading levels, and magazines.Choice is a Wonderful Motivator“I like that my teacher knowssome stuff about me andwants to make school interesting.”StudentChoose How to Demonstrate Learning• Allow students to choose their own sub-topic for researchand investigation within the larger unit.• Provide a range of product options for students todemonstrate their learning. For example, let them chooseto share what they have learned about a concept by writinga paper, creating a subject dictionary, or producing a radioshow. Use a common assessment for all products so theemphasis remains on expectations rather than on productappeal.
Choice is aWonderful MotivatorConsider giving students some choice when theyare doing guided or independent work.Connect• Make meaningful connections by knowing aboutyoung adolescent development and popularculture, and taking the time for informalconversations with your students.• Greet students at the classroom door or inthe hall. These simple moments of connectiongive you a sense of how each student’s day isprogressing and contribute to a positiveclassroom environment.Ask• Observe the choices students make, such ashow they are going to share their learning.Choices speak to student learning preferencesand interests.Quick Ways to Know your Students• Ask your students about their interests andtheir preferred ways of learning. Confirm yourunderstanding with students and their parents.“My struggling students amaze mewith the quality of their work whenI give them some freedom in howthey demonstrate their knowledge.”TeacherDiagnose• Use formal and informal diagnostic assessments,including interest, reading or learning styleinventories, to determine your students’individual starting points and to informunit/lesson planning.“I really like being able to choosehowI do some of my assignments.”Student
DifferentiatedinstructionDifferentiated instruction is not individualized instruction.It is responding to varying student needs by providing abalance of modeled, shared, guided and independentinstructional strategies.Effective• Use Think Literacy (7-12) or the Guides to EffectiveInstruction (K-6) to explicitly teach strategies that willmake your subject content accessible to a wide rangeof learners. Explicit strategy instruction is the firststep in the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ modelreferred to in Education for All.Differentiated InstructionRelevant• Connect ideas to student interests and to their livesbeyond the classroom.Responsive• Use simple graphic organizers such as Venn diagramsor Know/Want to Know/Learned (KWL) charts tohave students record what they know about aconcept before you teach it so that you know whatto emphasize and which students might needsupport.Engaging• Vary instructional strategies to meet learningpreferences. For example, if you are presentinginformation and having students take notes, add avideo clip or ask students to take notes in twocolumns, using words in one column and visualrepresentations in the other. In other instances,ask students to discuss what they’ve read or learnedwith a partner.