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Differentiation in the Middle School


Illinois Association of Gifted Children Conference - February 2, 2008. Dr. Kelly Baird ... you feel like: a snowflake falling, water rushing in a brook, etc. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Differentiation in the Middle School

Differentiation in the Middle School
  • Kelly D. Baird
  • Carise Comstock
  • Jeff Missman
  • Susan Oxnevad

Illinois Association of Gifted Children
Conference - February 2, 2008
Dr. Kelly Baird Curriculum Coordinator Oak Park
Elementary Schools Oak Park, IL
Middle School Issues/ Gifted
  • Middle school years are unique.
  • In many ways educators tend to focus on the
    affective demands of the group rather than the
    individual strengths and weaknesses of the
    academically gifted.
  • The needs of the academically gifted can be
    addressed through The Engaged Learner model of

Engaged Learners!
  • Motivation and high expectations.
  • Time on task and opportunity to learn.
  • Focused teaching.

Time on Task and Opportunity to Learn
  • Adequate time for teaching.
  • Can be daily lessons or long term projects.

Motivation and High Expectations
  • A responsive or differentiating teacher is
    attuned to the varied learning needs of the
  • Before you try to teach students, you must get
    their attention. Use a hook.
  • Hooks include the use of provocative essential
    questions, counterintuitive phenomena,
    controversial issues, authentic problems, etc.

Focused Teaching
  • Ongoing assessment identifies the Zone of
    Proximal Development for each child.

Zone of Proximal Development
  • What is it?
  • Developed by Lev Vygotsky.
  • Structure learning so the difficulty of the task
    is aligned with the needs of the learner.

How do you structure learning so that it is
aligned with the needs of the learner?
Bruners Scaffolding
  • Bruner believed that the childs social
    environment and especially social interactions
    with other people were extremely important in the
    process of learning.
  • i.e. Theory of Assisted Development (Vygotskys
    More Knowing Other).
  • Scaffolding the child takes the next step if
    another person (MKO) helps.
  • The MKO Theory and the ZPD combined form the
    basis of the scaffolding component of the
    Cognitive Apprenticeship Model of Instruction.

Knowing the appropriate instructional response.
  • The essence of Differentiation!
  • As the MKO, the teacher should be able to
    determine the student's entry point into the
    curriculum (use of ongoing assessment).

Application of this Differentiation Model
  • This Differentiation model is based on ongoing
    assessment, the Theory of Assisted Development,
    ZPD, MKO, and Blooms Taxonomy.
  • The question is how do we structure classrooms,
    develop routines, and include educational tools
    to deliver instruction?

Application of the Model (continued)
  • Think about John Dewey and his concept of the
    Long Term Project (LTP).
  • His theory focused on utilizing experience to
    form thinking.
  • He saw the child as the free agent of his/her own
  • The child achieves through his/her own interest
    and/or activity in daily activities (LTP).
  • All of the above motivate to learn.

Another method of structuring learning so the
difficulty of the task is aligned with the needs
of the learner
  • Blooms Taxonomy.
  • This helps teachers in ascertaining cognitive
    skills they want students to practice in a
    lesson. Blooms Taxonomy helps to identify
    target skills.
  • Blooms Taxonomy (combined with Vygostskys and
    Bruners concept of scaffolding), helps
    teachers to assist their students in achieving
    goals. Theory of Assisted Development.

Another classroom structure, routine, or tool
  • Technology
  • Technology could and should be used to create
    paths into the curriculum.

Middle School Concern
  • Many aspects of middle school education are
    aligned to the gifted child (connectedness to
    others, an interdisciplinary curriculum, and
    teacher/student teaming).
  • However, middle school philosophy calls for
    heterogeneous grouping, less academic rigor, more
    socialization. Problematic for the gifted.

  • Provide for individual differences to meet the
    needs of the gifted middle school child.
  • Provide appropriate time (i.e. Deweys Long term
  • Motivate to learn through the use of essential
    questions and other appropriate hooks.
  • Focus instruction through the use of ongoing
    assessment, Blooms Taxonomy, ZPD, and

Ms. Carise Comstock Language Arts Department
Chair Oak Park Elementary Schools Oak Park,
IL ccomstock_at_op97.org
Focusing differentiation in the classroom
  • Content
  • Ask yourself What variety of curriculum
    materials can I use to cover the same concepts
    while meeting the needs of a variety of learners
    at different cognitive levels?
  • Use a state standards based approach
  • Process
  • Ask yourself What do I want the students to
    know? How can we get there?
  • Then vary your teaching style to meet the needs
    of students in the room

Focusing differentiation
  • Product
  • Ask yourself
  • What did I want the students to know?
  • In what ways can they prove their knowledge?
  • Examples
  • multiple choice, essay, project-based, student
    selection, interview, discussion, challenge
  • Environment
  • Ask yourself
  • Are all learners achieving success and feeling a
    connection to the curriculum, classroom, and
  • If yes you are differentiating!

Content example
  • Communism Unit (Interdisciplinary SS and LA)
  • Students select a topic to research and prepare a
  • Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin, Russian Revolution, etc.
  • Reading novels based on Lexile scores and ability
  • Some students read 1984 the others read Animal
    Farm (AF)
  • Challenge option (highest ability or student
    requested) read both 1984 and AF
  • Literature circle groups created to discuss
    history, novels, vocabulary, and literary
  • Similes, metaphors, theme, plot, history, and
    character development, etc.
  • Note students are all mixed together so that
    they each bring different authentic literacy
    experiences to the table
  • Final assessment varies by student essay
    options, project options, test

Process differentiation
  • Vocabulary (all subjects)
  • WAD (word a day)
  • Students create a word square
  • Game review project
  • Footnote strategies

predicted definition real definition part of
speech VOCABULARY WORD picture or symbol
sentence example synonym and/or antonym
Another process example and product
  • Video interview of heroes (SS)
  • Research a hero from the American Revolution
    using the schools media center, local library,
    internet sites, or classroom materials
  • family and home life
  • age at time of Revolution
  • contribution to the Revolution
  • interesting and little-known facts
  • Write a 2-3 minute script, prepare visuals, and
    dress in appropriate costume to portray this
    character accurately in a biographical video

Product example (Kagan, 1998, 19.12)
  • Water Cycle (Science)
  • Verbal/Linguistic
  • Create a poem about the water cycle
  • Logistical/Mathematical Design an experiment to
    test evaporation rates under different conditions
  • Visual/Spatial
  • Use water colors to depict different cloud
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic
  • Become a rain drop and act out the entire water
  • Naturalist
  • Observe the effect of rainy and sunny days on
    various plants and animals
  • Interpersonal
  • Work in groups to create an advertising campaign
    to conserve water
  • Intrapersonal
  • Create a raindrop log to record times when you
    feel like a snowflake falling, water rushing in
    a brook, etc.

Another product example
  • Vocabulary Tests Student selected
  • (They love ULTRAs really they do!)
  • Normal
  • Every test should be the same, but the type of
    test should differ each time it is given
  • Examples multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank,
    define the word, spell the word, student created
    sentences with context clues, matching
  • Challenge
  • Same as normal with an added challenge for each
  • Example fill-in-the-blank with no word bank
    given, both spell and define
  • Totally different test
  • Contains some sort of logic element
  • Example multiple choice with no words given
    (Sodoku style), student created test with no
    notes or help from other students

  • WAD TEST 4
  • Challenge
  • Write a sentence for each word in addition to
    answering the multiple choice question.
  • _________ subvert
  • in a wild state
  • undermine the power of a system, overthrow
  • gullible, showing a readiness to believe
  • _________ credulous
  • an extreme exaggeration
  • formal decree or authorization
  • gullible, showing a readiness to believe

  • WAD TEST 4
  • Figure out which vocabulary word goes where!
    Write it on the line and circle the definition.
    Then, write a sentence for each word in addition
    to answering the multiple-choice question.
  • 1. _________
  • in a wild state
  • undermine the power of a system, overthrow
  • gullible, showing a readiness to believe
  • _________
  • an extreme exaggeration
  • formal decree or authorization
  • gullible, showing a readiness to believe
  • 3. _________
  • mixture of conflicting sounds, bad noise
  • to mock, make fun of
  • c. compliance, attentive to a severe degree
  • _________
  • right to vote in a political election
  • speaking highly to impress others
  • an extreme exaggeration
  • _________
  • speaking highly to impress others
  • requiring hard work, demanding
  • c. in a wild state

  • Are students taking pride in their work? Is the
    quality of their work improving?
  • Are they excited to share their projects?
  • Are students still discussing what happened in
    class in the hallways?
  • Are students actively engaged while in the
  • If yes you are differentiating! J If you
    arent sure ask them! They will be honest, and
    you can use their input in positive ways!

Extending the LA curriculum
  • Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
  • Steppenwolf for Young Adults
  • Divide the class up by acts or scenes
  • Direct, act, and stage and perform the play for
    parents and other team members
  • Public speaking and performance

Independent Points Creative Writing Literacy Grids
Mind-Set of Successfully Differentiating Teachers
(Wormeli, 2007, p. 154)
  • Are we willing to teach in whatever way is
    necessary for students to learn best, even if the
    approach doesnt match our own preferences?
  • Do we have the courage to do what works, not just
    whats easiest?
  • Do we actively seek to understand our students
    knowledge, skills, and talents so we can provide
    an appropriate match for their learning needs?
  • Once we discover their individual strengths and
    weaknesses, do we actually adapt our instruction
    to respond to their needs?
  • Are we open to critique? And do we push our
    students to become their own education advocates
    and give them the tools to do so?

Teachers should (Wormeli, 2007)
  • Understand the variety of learners and cognitive
    levels of students in every classroom
  • Maximize student learning, not rely on the
    one-size-fits-all method
  • Prepare students to be their own advocates for
    learning, by helping them realize what strategies
    work best for each individual

A final thought
Let me be clear Differentiation is not about
requiring less or more work from students of
varying degrees of readiness. We dont ask
advanced students to do two book reports while
struggling students do one. Instead, we change
the nature of the work, not its quantity.
Differentiation means we increase what students
can achieve, and that takes focused work on
everyones part. (Wormeli, 2007, p. 10)
  • Wormeli, Rick. 2007. Differentiation From
    Planning to Practice, Grades 6-12. Stenhouse
    Publishers Portland, Maine.
  • Kagan, Dr. Spencer and Kagan, Miguel. 1998.
    Multiple Intelligences The Complete MI Book.
    Kagan Cooperative Learning San Clemente,

Mr. Jeffrey Missman Social Studies Department
Chair Oak Park Elementary Schools Oak Park,
IL jmissman_at_op97.org
Becoming A HistorianUsing critical thinking and
writing skills to analyze primary historical
sources and then using those findings to
construct a scholarly thesis essay
  • Reaching the needs of all students in the
    regular classroom with an emphasis on challenging
    the upper end students

Overriding Objectives
  • Improving historical critical thinking skills
  • - Interpretation
  • - Perspective / Bias
  • - Connecting ideas to a larger theme
  • - Using information to develop an argument
    and a counter argument
  • Developing critical writing skills (weakness for
    upper end students)
  • - Standard five paragraph essay (thesis,
    body, and conclusion)
  • - Explicating sources as evidence

Levels of Thinking (Blooms Taxonomy)
scaffolding process
  • Knowledge key facts, ideas, etc
  • Comprehension translate, interpret, or explain
  • Application apply information and solve
  • Analysis break down components, find
    relationships, identify underlying themes
  • Synthesis take parts of previously learned
    information a create new products
  • Evaluation - judgement of quality, credibility,
    worth, or practicality -- provide reasoning and
    logic behind evaluation

Part A Scaffolding Questions / Analysis Sheet
  • This section requires students to answer 1-2
    questions per document. These questions generally
    involve interpreting the main idea or point of
    view expressed in the document while also
    relating the ideas to larger themes of the time
    period. This exercise allows students to get
    familiar with the documents.
  • Document analysis sheet can be given to
    further help students analyze the sources and
    organize their thoughts
  • Students are also expected to identify how
    the document helps answer an overriding question
    for the time period.
  • Example of a question How progressive
    was the progressive era?

Examples of Document Analysis Sheets
Part B Essay
  • This section requires students to write an
    essay, using the documents, to respond to a
    specific question.
  • This question will require students to utilize
    the sources, plus their understanding of history.
  • Students will be expected to move beyond simply
    quoting the documents. They will need to use the
    documents as evidence in support of a thesis.
    The thesis should be their answer to the
    overriding question.
  • Students will also have to include a
    counter-argument to their thesis which forces
    them to take a more comprehensive view of the
    time period

DBQ Essay Checklist / Rubric
  • Organization
  • Paragraph 1
  • Introduction Historical context (essential
    information of the era needed to set-up your
  • Offer question
  • Answer question with two main points (this is
    your thesis)
  • Briefly state counter-argument
  • Paragraphs 2 and 3
  • Explanation of the evidence
  • For the primary sources state the document and
    author and explain the document in such a way
    that is evidence for your thesis
  • Make sure to include an excerpt of the primary
    document if it is a written text

DBQ Checklist Continued
  • Paragraph 4
  • Counter Argument What else could you argue
    about the era that would in some way contradict
    your stated thesis (offer an opposing position)?
  • Explanation of the evidence
  • For the primary sources state the document and
    author (if given) and explain the document in
    such a way that it is clear evidence for your
  • Make sure to include an excerpt of the primary
    document if it is a written text. This is done
    using quotation marks.
  • Paragraph 5
  • Restate thesis
  • Expound on the possible lasting impact of the
    topic and/or personal insight

Other information
  • All of the following should be included
  • - Centered Title
  • - Times New Roman font
  • - Use 12-point size
  • - Single Spaced
  • Other information
  • - Use Third Person (not I)
  • - In the paragraph structure, include a topic
    sentence, your evidence, explanation of evidence
    (how the evidence supports your claim), and a
    transition sentence at the end of the paragraph
  • - Explain evidence thoroughly
  • - Keep your writing clear and academic

DBQ Scoring Checklist
  • Knowledge of Content
  • 10 points
  • Thesis Responds directly to DBQ question
  • 10 points
  • Use of Documents Use at least five primary
  • 20 points
  • Clarity / Organization / Grammar
  • 10 points
  • Total 50 points

Other important information
  • Modeling and Paper Organization
  • Student work examples
  • Using this model for other activities
  • Debate
  • Creating Power Points

Ms. Susan Oxnevad Instructional Technology
Facilitator Oak Park Elementary Schools Oak Park,
IL soxnevad_at_op97.org http//www.op97.org/oxnevad
Differentiation Through Technology
Technology as a Tool
  • The emphasis of instructional technology
  • productivity
  • creativity
  • research
  • communication
  • Teaching our Digital Learners 21st Century
    Learning Skills
  • Technology embedded throughout the learning
    experience, not separate.

WebQuest, A Tool for Differentiation
  • Developed by Bernie Dodge, San Diego State
    University, 1995
  • Guided, inquiry based learning
  • Long term project
  • Lesson planned and set up prior to instruction
  • Teacher serves as the facilitator
  • Students usually work in cooperative groups
  • Differentiation occurs within roles assumed by

Critical Attributes of WebQuest
  • Wrapped around an interesting real-world task
  • Requires higher level thinking, not simply
  • Includes synthesis, analysis, problem-solving,
    creativity and judgment.
  • Makes good use of the web.
  • Based on real resources from the web.
  • More than a research report.

Parts of a WebQuest
  • Introduction
  • Task
  • Process
  • Resources
  • Evaluation
  • Conclusion
  • Teacher

  • Sets the scene without specifics.
  • Engages student interest by pointing out the
    importance of the topic, the mystery of it, or
    the relevance.
  • Hooks the learner's interest.
  • Uses kid-friendly language.

  • The most critical part of any WebQuest
  • Describes what you want the learner to have
    accomplished by the time they have finished the
  • Does not include the steps that lead to
    accomplishing the Task.
  • Includes a short description, based on higher
    level thinking.

  • Spells out step by step what the learners will
    do, how they'll interact with each other, and the
  • Takes the longest to develop
  • Relevant online resources for learners idenified
  • Completed in phases

Process Phases
  • Phase 1 Assign roles using Interest Inventory.
    Try Google Docs
  • Phase 2 Describe roles and specific tasks.
  • Phase 3 Provide learners with the steps needed
    to perform the task.
  • In Phase 4 The thinking takes place.

  • Complex performance requires a rubric.
  • Resources for rubric development
  • Rubistar Online rubric generator.
  • QuestGarden WebQuest development tool with rubric
    template and advice.

  • Brings lesson to a close.
  • Requires learner reflection
  • Provides students with opportunity for continued
    learning by seeking further information

  • Section written for fellow teachers
  • Contains additional resources, information and
    tips for success.
  • Lists things that would be included in a
    traditional lesson plan, but not things students
    need to read.

Sample WebQuest
Civil War Battles Come to Life A WebQuest
for Middle School Students Created by Susan
Oxnevad, Oak Park Elementary Schools, IL
Your group has been chosen by our local
historical society to create a historically
accurate newspaper based on one of the ten
costliest Civil War battles.The battles have been
identified. There are two newspapers for each
battle, one from the Northern perspective, the
other from the Southern point of view.
Your job as reporters is to communicate
accurately to portray the message of the time,
through your writing and graphic images. You will
receive your specific assignment and location
from the Editor-in-Chief.
Your newspaper staff consists of a group of
journalists that are assigned the task of
researching, writing, and editing a single
edition of your newspaper that focuses on a
specific Civil War battle. Your reporting team is
responsible for researching, writing and creating
a newspaper including 1. a news article from a
field reporter at scene of the battle. 2. a
news article from a field reporter about life in
camp for the soldiers 3. a human interest
story that tells of what life is like back home.
4. a human interest story that describes the
reasons the soldiers are fighting this
war. 5. photos 6. maps 7. a timeline of
battles and major events
Process Phase 1
Interest Inventory
Before you can begin, The first step is to
participate in an Interest Inventory in order to
assume a role that matches both your interests
and your learning style. Click the button below
to complete the Interest Inventory.
Process Phase 2 Assign
Congratulations! As a result of your Interest
Inventory, the Senior Editor of the newspaper has
assigned you to report on the Battle of
Gettysburg. You will be reporting for the The
Pennsylvania Post Click on the your job title
below to read your job description and learn
about your specific responsibilities.
Process Phase 2 Reporter
  • Reporter Tasks
  • Describe important details of the battle,
    including the major people involved and the
    location of the battle.
  • Determine the cost of the battle and the number
    of causalities.
  • Demonstrate the relationship between the number
    of causalities and the cost of the battle.
  • Compare and contrast the living conditions at
    camp for soldiers on both sides of the war.
  • Provide reasons to support the significance of
    this battle for both the Union and the
  • Write an article for the newspaper. With your
    teachers permission, your group can
    choose an alternate
    final project. Click TEACHER for

Process Phase 2 Historian
  • Historian Tasks
  • Create a timeline of the major Civil War battles
    Analyze letters written by soldiers to
    demonstrate an understanding of motivation,
    struggles and feelings
  • Evaluate photos to determine how the living condit
    ions at camp effected the outcome of the battle.
  • Write an editorial for the newspaper from a
    soldier's point of view describing feelings about
    the battle. With your teachers permission, your
    group can choose an
    alternate final project.
    Click TEACHER for suggestions.

Process Phase 2 Graphic
  • Graphic Artist Tasks
  • Create a map of the battle, marking significant
    places on the battlefield and in the surrounding
  • Create an illustration that shows the states on
    the Union and Confederate sides of the war..
  • Create a photo collage of historic pictures to ill
    ustrate one concept, theme or idea directly
    related to the battle
  • Insert all of your graphics into your newspaper
    and include captions. With your teachers
    permission, your group can choose
    an alternate final project.
    Click TEACHER for suggestions.

Process Phase 3Steps to Follow
  • Steps
  • Use the resources identified for your research.
  • Use the Inspiration concept map to organize your
  • After you have completed your research, remember
    to view your concept map as an outline, to help
    you compose your newspaper article and graphics.
  • Use the newspaper template provided to complete
    your final project or design one of your own.
  • Your newspaper will be evaluated on a rubric.

Process Phase 4 Getting
Getting Started Now that you have read your job
description and looked at the steps to follow,
its time to get to work. Click on the Resources
button below for access to materials you will
  • Internet Resources
  • The National Archives
  • Encyclopedia Smithsonian
  • Shotguns Home of the Civil War
  • The History Channel
  • American Civil War
  • PBS, Ken Burns
  • Library of Congress, Civil War Photographs
  • Letters from the Front
  • American Civil War Collection

Click on the button with your job title to access
a packet of Inspiration concept mapping
documents. Use the Inspiration packet to organize
your ideas. Feel free to add concepts not
included, or modify it in any way you wish. You
can also start with a blank Inspiration document
to design your own graphic organizer. When you
are done collecting information, remember to turn
your ideas into an outline to help you
write. Remember, the Word Guide not only defines
words, it offers synonyms. Please use it.

Resources Newspaper Templates
Click on one of the samples below to access a
template or design your own layout in Microsoft
Word. Remember to use columns and text boxes to
layout your newspaper. Also, use the tools such
as Check Spelling and Check Grammar to make sure
your final product is well-written and
Evaluation Rubric

Now that you have completed this WebQuest,
hopefully you have a better understanding of how
the battle and circumstances surrounding it made
a significant impact on The Civil War. Please get
together with other students in your class, those
who were not in your group, to discuss different
battles studied in this exercise and get a bigger
picture of The Civil War. Did the experience make
our nation stronger in the end? Why or why not?
  • Higher level tech skills for students can be
    substituted. Instead of creating a newspaper,
    students can create alternate projects for the
    historical society.
  • Use iMovie, Garage Band, text and photos to
    create a digital storytelling piece.
  • Use PowerPoint to create a multi-media
  • Use Excel to create charts illustrating some
    statistics and include it into any of the final
  • Collaborate with students in another school
    located on the other side of the war. Use Google
    Docs to share notes, then use Google Presentation
    to share different perspectives.
  • Create a series of podcasts.
  • Let students brainstorm ideas for final projects.

Creating a WebQuest
Creating a WebQuest
  • Can be very simple.
  • Any document with hyperlinks can be a WebQuest.
  • Use a traditional webpage format, Powerpoint or
    even Word.

QuestGarden A Guided Tutorial and Authoring
  • QuestGarden, a community of educators.
  • Part of the WebQuest.org resources.
  • Step by step tutorial.
  • Guides developers through process
  • Specific tutorials based on final project/outcome
  • Provides examples for each step
  • Excellent resource
  • Published WebQuests added to WebQuest.org
    database and available for use.

  • Minimal tech skills required
  • Type in word processor format
  • No webpage design, pages and navigation are set
  • Can use html for extras, but not required
  • Access to QuestGarden costs 20 for a 2-year
  • A 30-day free trial is available, so teacher
    educators and staff developers who wish to expose
    their audience to WebQuests can do so without
  • QuestGarden is a community of educators.

  • Website http//www.webquest.org
  • 30-day free trial available
  • Teacher educators and staff developers can expose
    their audience to WebQuests without cost.
  • Special setup and access available for teaching
  • Subscription, 20 for 2-years.

Sample includes advice and examples.
Other Online Authoring Systems
Use and Modify Existing WebQuests
  • Seemingly thousands of WebQuests available for
    use on the world wide web.
  • WebQuest.org has searchable database for locating
    activities created within their platform and
    posted on their servers.http//www.webquest.org
  • Google search leads to many more WebQuests.
  • Can modify existing WebQuests to fit into your
    curriculum, with credit to the original authors.

  • Discussion
  • and
  • Questions
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