Differentiation Tips for Middle School MathBy Teachers.Net Community
2×2 teacher posted: I have been told that I now have to write and turn in lesson plans showing differentiation in the middle school math classes that I teach. I don’t know where to start. Please help! Thanks!
Sara’s response: Are your math classes heterogeneous? I’m guessing so or why would they be asking you for differentiation? So we’re going to differentiate along the lines of varying levels of math ability – and not along other lines? That’s the first question to ask when differentiating – differentiating for what? Learning differences? Reading ability? Attention span? Language differences? Or math ability?
Assuming it’s math ability, I put my kids into three groups (they don’t necessarily like it at first… I take the natural
math kids – they ones who almost don’t need to be taught and put them together. Then I put a ‘low group’ together – the ones who almost don’t get it -or don’t get it – even when you teach them. And the middle group is exactly that.
I use different textbooks – I could actually write the whole plan but before I do it would help to not waste time in case we’re not differentiating for varying levels of math ability.
What are we differentiating for? What are the differences between them that we’re planning for?
2×2 teacher added: Yes, it is for differences in math ability. I like the idea of three groups. I am already doing that to some extent. I think my biggest problem is how to write it in a lesson plan. I can’t just put “three groups” in my lesson plan every day. They will all be taking a common assessment so my target is the same with all of them. The person reviewing my lesson plans is looking for cute, creative ideas. I really appreciate your help. No one has ever asked what we are differentiating for before.
Betty Ann posted: Many math texts have several levels of problems in the problem sets: basic, “regular,” and “challenge.” You can certainly have your various groups working on the same concepts, but with different levels of difficulty.
Sara added: I put the easiest questions first on my tests – it boost confidence. I tell them I don’t expect them all to finish every problem but NOT to skip problems – unless they get stuck. I do expect that the ‘top group’ will finish the test and I add a specific challenge section at the end where I pose questions that are more than calculation or harder calculation.
On Mondays, I teach the new operation. On Tuesdays, the top group works on it by themselves in a group off to the side. They consult with each other. I work with the middle and the bottom group going over the operation and doing worksheets together. If any in the middle group think they ‘get it’ , they are welcome to work independently or to join the top group. Wed. I’m still working with the bottom group and I give everyone else the answer sheet to the problems they’ve been doing. (often on Wed. I give the top group and enrichment sheet)
Every Thursday we take a test. Fridays I do enrichment with everybody and I regroup them in small groups NOT based on ability. I don’t know how to write it in a lesson plan either but [next page>]