You’ve been thrown into the deep end of distance learning and have been doing an excellent job of learning how to swim, even if you feel like you’re still drowning. Out of all the challenges presented by distance learning, I think differentiation may be the biggest beast. Nevertheless, it’s an important part of what you do as an educator, so once again, you are doing your absolute best to master it.
I know it’s a daunting task, so I’m hoping I can provide some help with the ideas below.
Provide Oral Admin:
Digital resources come to the rescue when it comes to providing oral administration. Thankfully, all of this is happening in a day and age when so many have the technology needed to make this work. However, I do know that this isn’t true for every house. In those instances, the telephone will work just as well.
Boom Cards are quickly becoming one of my favorite resources. They are amazing for so many reasons, but the ability to add oral admin to the decks I make is probably the most incredible. You can use a free account to create your own Boom Decks, but unless you have at least the Power Membership Level, you will be limited to 5 self-made decks. You can also search for decks to purchase that already have oral admin built into them like the inferring deck pictured below. (These cards have also been inserted into a Google Form if you prefer using Google Apps.)
Google Slides also give you the ability to add oral admin. Just record yourself reading the pieces of text, upload the recordings to your Google Drive, and insert them on the slides.
Use Reading Materials at Varying Readability Levels:
One of the easiest ways to provide differentiation is to allow students to choose their own books and reading material for book projects & activities. There is are many websites that provide online access to books and texts for those with limited libraries at home such as Epic!, Vooks, and DogoNews. Be sure to check your community library’s website as well!
Guided reading groups can be continued via video chat and screen sharing. Unite for Literacy and Raz-Kids provide text selections of varying difficulty levels that may be helpful if you don’t have digital copies of the guided reading books that came with a textbook adoption.
You can also use texts with varying readability levels for assignments with graphic organizers or questions with the same skill/strategy focus. Readworks has many texts of varying levels with the same topics, which is extremely helpful.
Differentiation with Spelling Lists & Patterns:
Continue to provide differentiated spelling lists and patterns. There are many word sorts and other word work activities for Google Slides that compliment Words Their Way and other phonics programs like this amazing free one from LAH in Ga on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can also easily create your own on Google Slides and Seesaw.
Need an option that’s not digital? Use a spelling menu with differentiated lists. Grab the freebie shown below here.
Chunk assignments in Google Classroom by only assigning a few (or one) slides at a time. Here’s a video tutorial for how to assign specific slides in Google Classroom.
You can even chunk a piece of text by using the snippet tool to capture only a few paragraphs of a text and then breaking the text into multiple Google Slides or Pages on Seesaw.
Provide Supplemental Aids:
Send home student reference pages such as mini anchor charts, handouts, graphic organizers, and spelling lists. Having a visual to refer to can ease the stress of practicing skills and strategies outside of the classroom.
Give Students Options for How to Demonstrate Mastery:
I am a huge fan of menus. I love that they give students choice in how they want to demonstrate their mastery and knowledge. It’s important to provide a wide range of options on the menu that cater to the students’ interests and learning styles. Consider including options for students to respond creatively through drawings, stories, or songs. You can also allow students to give their responses orally on Flipgrid, Seesaw, or even over the phone. Remember to provide at least a few options that allow your students to step away from the screen.
Modified & Alternative Assignments to Meet Individual Needs and IEP Goals:
This one seems to come a little more naturally since you can still provide the same types of modifications and alternative assignments as you would have in the classroom.
One resource that I LOVE for finding activities that are targeted to meet students’ individual needs is, you guessed it, Boom Cards. I love them, can you tell? You can find cards for everything from Phonics to Context Clues to Inferring to assign to specific students. The best part is that they are self-checking and give you reports with information about your students’ progress and performance. Hallelujah! Something that’s easy to track.
You can also modify the menus that you send home for your entire class to provide alternate assignments that are more in line with a student’s IEP goals.
How is Differentiation During Distance Learning Going for You?
I’d love to know what questions you have about differentiation and the challenges you are facing. Let me know in the comments below or email me at laura@cultivatingcriticalreadersers.