KinderGals: Setting Up for Differentiated Instruction

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Setting Up for Differentiated Instruction

Several years ago I did a one day seminar named “DI for the Little Guy”.  So, how excited was I when I was asked to do it again in Vegas. So I did a little sprucing up and it’s ready to go.
I remember when DI became a buzz word. I had a really hard time trying to figure out exactly what it was. This wasn't because I couldn't do it in a kindergarten classroom, it was because I was ALREADY doing it in a kindergarten classroom. Chances are you are too! Just because of the age of our learners differentiation occurs naturally. DI isn't a list of activities that you do! It is the WAY you conduct business! It is how you deliver instruction. Here are a few things I think about....
How do you group your kids? Here’s my thinking.
I want groups that work well together. Groups that are mixed abilities, mixed gifts, mixed personalities, some leaders and some followers. I think which children will work well together and not play? They wouldn’t necessarily choose to play with these friends. But,when it’s time to work, they get it done! I call these their “families”. They go to math centers and literacy centers with these kids. Anytime I want them to work on a group project, these are the kids they work with.
But, what about instruction? How can I work with these mixed groups of abilities and plan activities are that differentiated? I don’t! These are not their instructional groups. Here’s what I do:
  1. Conduct formative assessments on the standard you are teaching.
  2. Group children according to the results.
  3. As kids are working in centers, go to each area and “collect” the kids you want based on these results.
  4. After you are finished, they return back to their center group area and you pick your second group.
My kids know they have a family group, but they do not know they are in any other groups. My instructional groups aren’t named like when I was in school. Remember? Red birds and Blue birds? That’s because these groups are always changing depending on which standard I am teaching! 
We are also talking about how to differentiate your centers. Here’s my thinking:
  1. Centers are used so that children can work independently while you pull small group.
  2. Centers provide for maintenance of previously learned materials.
So here’s what I do:
  1. I developed 5 center areas, one for each of the math strands.
  2. I put a “have to” activity in each area that is a previously taught skill.
  3. The “have to” activity is an activity they have done before, just maybe with a different manipulative.
  4. Once they finish the “have to”, there are “can dos” that are more open ended where each child creates learning based on their own knowledge and interest.
Another thing we are talking about is getting kids with their “good fit” books.
Here’s what I am thinking:
  • I want kids to have books that are at their right level.
  • I want the kids to be able to read about what they are interested in.
  • It takes kids a while to be able to determine if a book is at their right level.
  • I DO NOT want book shopping to take FOREVER!
I have a huge classroom library. And I want kids to have access to all of those books. You can read all about my classroom library organization here. So here’s what I did:
  • They may choose books for the “topic tubs” to place in their bag of books. That means if they love dinosaurs they can go to the “dinosaur tub” and select a few books (you can determine how many books they can select.)
  • Until they are able to look through the topic tubs to select books that are their right level, I give them a little help here.
    1. At one time I just put all the “A’s” in a tub, all the “B’s” in a tub, and so on. But it took them forever to choose books this way.
    2. So, I took all the “A” books and put them in piles.
    3. Each pile has 6 books.
    4. All 6 books have the same topic.
    5. Any books that do not fit group, are all put together and placed in a “surprise” pile.
    6. Each pile is placed inside of a ziploc bag.
    7. Now, the kids just choose one bag with 6 books.
    8. Easy Peasy!
Here are some tags to put on the tubs for your leveled books. You can find these in a free file at the bottom of this blog post.
This year Megan is moving to 2nd! We are a little nervous and a little excited for her to start this new journey. So in addition to all of our other library areas, we created a new year that has leveled books. This is a picture of her leveled fiction library. We also made another area with leveled nonfiction books I just forgot to snap the picture. We are planning a post for next week on how we set up our entire library.

    The last part of the day is all about interventions. What do you do when you have tried everything you know? Here is an easy ABC book idea that I adapted from Maria Clay (the Reading Recovery Founder).
    Here’s what you do:
    1. Have children cut apart of page of clip art pictures, one picture or each letter. Put these in a baggie.
    2. Reproduce the ABC book.
    3. Now, abc test your child.
    4. Every letter they know, capital or lower case, have them glue the picture that matches that letter.
    5. After you have in all the letters they know, add pictures to three more letters they need to learn.
    6. Put post it notes on those three pages.
    How to Use The Book:
    1. Invite the children to read the book to you.
    2. To read the book, they turn to each page. If there is a picture on the page, they point to the capital letter and say the name, point to the lower case letter and say the name, and then name the picture.
    3. If there is no picture on the page, they skip that page.
    4. When they get to the pages with the post it notes, if they do not know the letter you point to the letters and name them.
    5. If they DO know the letter, remove the post it note and hold on to it.
    6. After they finish reading, put the post it note you removed on a new letter.
    You can get the abc book as a free download in this blog post.

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    Jan said...

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas and resources! I teach first and always have some friends who are still working on the alphabet- so I have to ask.... What is the picture for "x"? Xmas gift?

    Kim and Megan said...

    Hey jan. It is a box.

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