Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Strategies for Differentiating Instruction – Best Practices for the Classroom (2nd edition) is a fantastic resource for teachers of all grade levels. It explains why differentiation is a good idea, gives clear instructions on how to differentiate, and offers numerous tools to streamline planning and implementation of differentiation strategies. It is sure to be an asset to any classroom teacher, and especially those who work with a population that includes gifted students.
Authors Julia L. Roberts and Tracy F. Inman state that teachers can enhance the learning experience of their students by, “Allowing each child to learn on an ongoing basis... and go on to say ,”differentiation allows continuous progress for ALL students!” Utilizing this guide, teachers can assist each student in learning at their own pace and appropriate challenge level. A powerful analogy is presented in the book's first chapter, “ It is no more fair to require every child in one grade to wear the same size of shoe than it is to provide one set of lesson plans for children who read at various levels. “
This guide contains many helpful diagrams. Page 14 has a ladder model of levels of academic success. Many gifted students end up getting stuck at level one. According to Susan Assouline, quoted in appendix A, they do not learn the lessons of work ethic, study skills, and time management, among others. Dedicated teachers who encourage students to challenge themselves can make a tremendous impact on our most able learners.
Levels of Academic Success
1: gets good grades with ease
completes assignments with little effort
2: earns high grades on assignments that challenge
completes assignments that require effort
3: learns with satisfaction and joy
student is on way to becoming a lifelong learner
Another great feature is the guide's wealth of reproducible worksheets. These include a multiple intelligences checklist, an interest survey, bloom's taxonomy chart, Think Tac Toe project pages, Venn diagrams, and more. Kids like to be involved in planning their own learning, and these tools will assist the instructor in finding ways to optimize the educational experience of each and every child. Individual chapters deal with specific recommendations, managing the differentiated classroom, preassessment, and building support for differentiation.