Differentiated Learning Centers! Don’t panic! I have come up with ways to offer differentiation for your kindergarten learning activities. This might make you want to roll your eyes… but hang with me… I will show you HOW!
The idea for this post all started with a conversation I had with a teacher in Chicago after one of my presentations. She was feeling overwhelmed trying to work in thematic stations and differentiated stations with her students. This was a district requirement and she was drowning.
Why differentiate your stations?
It is said that differentiating is the center of quality teaching. I certainly agree that it is a cornerstone and a foundation of strong instructional practices. We already work differentiation into our small group lessons by the material we select. We work differentiation into our whole group lessons by the way we scaffold our instruction. So why do we need to differentiate center or station work? Because it is part of our instructional day.
Differentiate EVERY ACTIVITY?
Yes and no… Some activities are automatically differentiated. For example… the writing station/center or the listening station/center. These are already differentiated. Students are only going to write what they are capable of writing. Those students who have letter/sound correspondence will add words. Those students who do not will respond in pictures… Easy!
How do you differentiate?
How your differentiate is based on ongoing assessment and observations. In an effective classroom, assessment is ongoing and neverending. Assessment is necessary because it informs the TEACHER and the STUDENT. So how do you keep track of all of this? ESGI is one way.
I have my fictitious class listed here, but you can easily see how my students did on the rhyming assessment.
If you are more of a print out person… this is a great view. As the year progresses, this is my preferred report. I can print it out and see where my students fall under each skill. (NT means Not Test).
Make a Plan!
Now you know where your students fall, you can create a plan! NOTE: Snow White did not make the list…. Sad City!
or you could use the ESGI report to color code it.
Now put it in action!
Slide the card behind the student picture so they know which task to complete.
When this student goes to the work center bin he/she will see 3 zippered pouches. He/she will take the pouch that matches their target skill and work on that particular activity.
This could also work for early finishers. I talk more about Dessert Tubs HERE. Put the 3 zippered pouches in the bin. The student takes the pouch that matches their learning target.
For Dessert activities, I would not have a response sheet. These activities work perfectly without them.
You can also use the color code for other existing activities you use. Just add a dot!
I found the colored zipper pouches at WalMart for CHEAP! They were in the Back to School section, so I am not sure if they can be found at other times. HOWEVER… these are similar from Amazon (aff.). You can also use plain envelopes and color code them. I would recommend laminating them and adding a velcro closure. You can find the round labels also on Amazon by clicking HERE (these are cool because you can print on them).
I have put all of these pieces in this unit. It includes 3 levels of rhyming identification activities with 2 centers each (both in color and black/white). This is the first of many, but I am not planning on bundling right now.
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