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What is Differentiation? A Guide for Parents of Gifted and Talented Students Dr. Suzy Lofton Lago Vista ISD October 1, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Differentiation? A Guide for Parents of Gifted and Talented Students Dr. Suzy Lofton Lago Vista ISD October 1, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Differentiation? A Guide for Parents of Gifted and Talented Students Dr. Suzy Lofton Lago Vista ISD October 1, 2014

2 What is differentiation? Differentiation is the practice of making lessons different to accommodate the different students in a single classroom. A classroom may have students with a wide range of abilities and rather than “teach to the middle”, a teacher may alter lessons so that all students in a classroom will benefit. For gifted learners, differentiated learning opportunities add greater complexity in thinking, experience an increased pace of learning, and explore topics in greater depth than the average student.

3 When instruction is differentiated, what is the benefit of clustering students? When an appropriately trained teacher has several gifted students in a class, it is much more likely that he/she will make the appropriate provisions to extend the learning for these students through differentiated instruction. The intentional clustering of G/T students helps to better ensure that high ability students are provided appropriate learning opportunities (as opposed to a teacher having to meet the needs of just one gifted student in a class).

4 Will everything be differentiated? No. While some assignments may be differentiated, there are also instances where GT students are working on the same assignment as the rest of the class. These typically include pre-assessments, direct instruction or whole group activities, and activities that allow the individual student to produce a higher-level product for the same assignment (projects, writing, etc.). Also, depending on the area of giftedness, a higher level assignment may not be appropriate. There are students with general intellectual giftedness who excel in all areas, but there are also students who have specific academic areas of giftedness. For example, a student with giftedness in reading and language arts may not be operating at a higher-level in mathematics.

5 How does the teacher know if a student needs differentiated instruction? This first step is to conduct a pre-assessment to see what your child knows about the subject or lesson to be taught. Individual Pre-Assessments: Short Pretests, Entry/Exit tickets, KWL, Existing diagnostic data from screenings and/or assessments, Multiple Intelligences tests to determine learning style Whole Group: Individual response boards, Four Corners, Topic Talk, Name Cards/Sticks

6 In what ways does a teacher differentiate instruction? Teachers use their knowledge of students’ strengths, weaknesses, understanding, and interests to determine the material that is presented (content), what activities are appropriate (process), and how best to allow students to demonstrate what they have learned (product).

7 What does it mean to differentiate the content? If a teacher is differentiating content for gifted learners, students would be working on above grade-level objectives. For example, while the rest of a third grade group is solving one and two-step problems involving multiplication up to 100, the more advanced students may be solving problems by dividing up to a four-digit dividend with a one-digit divisor (an aligned 4th grade skill). An easy way to do this is to create math stations based on ability that includes a rotation for small group instruction.

8 What does it mean to differentiate the process? If the teacher is differentiating the process for gifted learners, they may be working on a grade-level expectation, but through an open-ended task that allows the student to build on his or her strengths and interest or with higher level materials. For example, students may be asked to identify and explain a scientific problem and propose a task and solution for the problem. Another example of process differentiation is to use a higher-Lexile text to have students determine literary elements.

9 What does it mean to differentiate the product? If a teacher is differentiating the product for gifted learners, they will produce a higher-level, often student-selected product. For example, to demonstrate his or her understanding of Character Analysis, a student may be able to choose an activity from the following options: Create a new problem for one of the characters in the story. Diagram a solution to the problem based on the information you know about the character and how he/she/it solves problems. Write a script for one of the scenes in the book. Include dialog that is appropriate for each character based on their traits and personality. Design a game that involves the characters and events from the story and the problems they actually face or could face based on the information you've learned from the story. Identify all of the character traits of the main characters from the story. Evaluate which are positive, negative, or both and why.

10 What are some concrete examples of differentiation? Tiered Activity (Content & Process): Students may be grouped by ability with a tiered activity based on a pre-assessment. It might look like the same activity at face value. However, in a tiered activity, students who scored above mastery would be grouped together to work on an assignment with higher-level questions to add depth. See Figure 8.2 & Figure 8.3 for an example.

11 What are some concrete examples of differentiation? Student Task Boards (Process & Product): Students are presented with an array of learning activities of varying complexity by which to demonstrate mastery. In this scenario, G/T students would have the ability to select and structure tasks based on strengths and interest (which are both powerful motivators for G/T learners). Students are not required to do unnecessary tasks or work on material they have already mastered; instead, they reach a goal that meets their individual learning needs. See Figure 8.8 and 8.9 for an example.

12 What are some concrete examples of differentiation? Curriculum Compacting & Learning Contract (Content, Process, & Product) Great way of finding time for enrichment and extension. Allows students to substitute projects and activities that more appropriately meet their learning needs. A pre-assessment is used to determine what the student already knows and what they still need to learn. The teacher teaches the remaining skills in whole/small group or independently. Then, the teacher provides a replacement activity: extension activity, learning centers, independent projects, subject acceleration, etc. Compacting is especially useful for skill-based areas (math, spelling, grammar, reading strategies, etc.). The teacher may use a learning contract to provide structure. See Figure 6.7, Figure 6.8, and Figure 6.9 for an example.

13 Feedback & Questions? Thank you for your participation! If you have questions, please contact: Dr. Suzy Lofton Director of Curriculum & Instruction

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