Differentiating Direct

As a building, we’ve gotten really good at running rotations. We’ve got students transitioning, 3 stations being offered most days, and we’ve begun to make this model our own. How do we tip from here? What are our next steps?

In order to really get the “bang for our buck” direct instruction needs to look unique at all three stations. The same lesson shouldn’t be taught three times in a row. Broken records repeat, they don’t produce hits. If educators are building 3 stations based on a common standard or skill, the students are arriving at direct with varied levels of readiness each rotation.

The first group has had no prior instruction on that skill. This lesson will be more involved and in depth. This rotation is probably a good match for the group of students who didn’t do spectacularly in the pretest and will need more support this unit.

The second group to receive direct instruction has had some introduction to the skill/content prior to arriving in your group. Maybe you begin by asking some informal questions to see where the group’s needs are, offer a shorter version of the prior lesson based on errors in their answers to beginning questions, and then move onto extension skills for this topic.

You final direct station has had collaborative and independent work prior to meeting with you. These students need very little of the first lesson and much more extension. Maybe you begin the rotation with them sharing their ticket out of independent and then dive into any needed remediation. Following that this group should be extending for the majority of this rotation. They’ve gotten a firm grasp of the skills in independent and collaboration. We don’t need to run the skipped record for them. Offer opportunities to apply, research, discuss, and further explore these skills.

Today I visited a 7th grade science classroom. In that classroom the essential question was, “How do seeds disperse themselves?”  This teacher had students watching videos and posting to a forum on dispersal methods in independent. In collaborative students were previewing seeds taken from nature and working collaboratively to inference what dispersal method was used by these specimens and write down proof statements.

In direct students never got the same lesson. The teacher asked questions to determine the groups prior knowledge for round one and dove into the discussion from there. In the second round the teacher asked similar questions and then asked students to reflect on the materials viewed during independent prior to teaching any material. After these initial probing interactions, the teacher then clarified any misconceptions and explained what was expected in collab and how it tied into the discussion in direct and the video viewed in independent. The final group didn’t even get asked the clarifying questions. The teacher lauched right into higher level thinking questions and the discussion was rich.

The wrap up for this lesson was a ticket out the door on the classroom learning management system (LMS). The students in this room were moving, discussing, exploring, and extending their learning. With all of the different modalities addressed in this lesson, I can honestly say that these students will master the dispersal methods of seeds and be eager for future plant lessons to come.



About bulldogtechteach

I am a technology integrator serving in a k-1 and a 2-5 elementary building. I firmly believe in the power of technology to engage students and allow them to create and master their learning.
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