Friday, March 9, 2012

Differentiation: Food For Thought

"So . . . What is differentiation?
Differentiation is
classroom practice
that looks
eyeball to eyeball
with the reality
that kids differ, and the most effective
teachers do whatever it takes to hook
the whole range of kids on learning."
-Tomlinson (2001)

This past weekend I attended the CAG (California Association for the Gifted) conference in Palm Springs, California.

Yes, it was:

high 70s,
beautiful blue skies,
Palm trees,
mountains on the horizon,
Palm Springs.

I wish I could have enjoyed the outdoors, but we (with colleagues who made it extra fun) attended workshops from 9:00 in the morning until 8:30 in the evening on Saturday. And then we were back on Sunday for more. At some point I lost count of how many workshops I had attended.

In my ongoing endeavor to:

improve my skills as a teacher,
be a good teacher,
be an effective teacher,
meet the needs of all students,
etc., etc.,

I combed the schedule for K-2 presenters and especially workshops on differentiation.

I'm working on differentiating instruction in my classroom but know it's a work in progress. I'm always asking other teachers what they do to differentiate, hoping to get more insight and ideas.

I was fortunate enough to start my day on Saturday at a session titled, "What Makes Effective Differentiation So Challenging?"  The presenter was Carol Ann Tomlinson. She is an educator, speaker, and author. I know her from these two books:

A quote from her presentation:

"It means teachers proactively plan varied approaches to what students need to learn, how they will learn it, and/or how they will show what they have learned in order to increase the likelihood that each student will learn as much as he or she can, as efficiently as possible."

She outlined specific key principles:

An environment that actively supports student success
High quality curriculum
Assessment to inform instruction
Responsive Instruction
Flexile Management

You can view the presentation on her website: Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Her presentation validated that it is in fact challenging to meet the needs of all students, but we can definitely do it. I will forge ahead in my ongoing desire to be more responsive to children's needs.

So, here's to doing whatever it takes to be that effective teacher and hook our kids on learning!


  1. I am nominating you for the Liebster award! It is for up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Feel free to pass award on to other blogs :). I really like your ideas!

  2. Mona,
    You are amazing! Looking forward to doing some ART with you and your students! (because for some students ~ ART is their path to learning...Jane

  3. Hi! Just found you on TpT! I am now a follower of your blog! come on over and check mine out!


  4. Mona, you are just amazing and inspiring. I would be honored if you came to visit me and maybe follow me as well! =)

    Heather's Heart


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