Hey, I’m not some kind of differentiating wizard. Starting out the school year is tough. Kindergarten always seems to hold interesting challenges because of our vast age ranges ( 4 year olds to almost 7 year olds in some cases), experience or lack of experience in school, readiness levels, learning profiles and intelligences. Throw in some challenging behaviors, different languages, and learning difficulties and you have a recipe for a classroom CRYING for differentiated instruction. But where do you start?
The first couple of weeks have to allow for time to explore, learn routines, rules and expectations while simultaneously assessing and evaluating the different strengths of your new class. As certain strengths become apparent, there are some simple ways to start thinking about differentiating your everyday classroom activities.
Do you ‘Morning Message?’ At the beginning of the year I especially like to do Morning Message because I can have students actively involved, coming up to ‘doctor up’ my message by identifying different parts of the message. For example, in this message, some students identified the letters of the week (m and s), others identified capital letters, still others underlined words they could read and one student read the entire message to the class and identified punctuation. Everyone participated and felt challenged and successful. It wasn’t rocket science . . . but it WAS differentiated.
And then there are those students that easily can produce letters and are ready for the challenge of three lines. I make sure that I differentiate their name game sheets to accommodate their readiness and allow them to feel success without frustration. Simple. It’s pretty basic but if you’d like a copy you can click on the picture below to get them.
Starting out the year with the idea of differentiating can be daunting but find simple ways to get started while your students are still exploring and learning the routines of your kindergarten class. I’ve collected alot of information over the last several days and still need more and more and more . . . but I feel like I’m ready to start tiering some literacy (word work) activities this week so stay tuned to see some simple ways I start out.
In the meantime, what are some simple ways your are finding to differentiate in your classroom? Drop me a line and let me know.
By the way, it feels like fall in Northern Michigan. So I’m starting to think fall activities for my kinders. They’re transitioning well after the second week of school and I’m looking forward to adding the challenge of some write the room activities next week. Here’s one that I’ll be adding for my next set of math stations.
I’ll be back in a couple of days to update you one my journey through Daily 5 and those beginning tiered word work stations. Stay tuned.