Do you struggle with Differentiation?

You are not alone!  Differentiation is hard to manage and wrap around in one's head!  I've spent a lot of time this year working on making it work in my room!  I think I'm getting there!  I thought I'd share some of my tips with you!


This is important to decide what level the kids are at!  Then you can group them.  For example, I tested my kids on long and short vowels.  Afterwards, I knew who was still struggling with which skill.  So I set up tubs with their names and that skill so when they went to Word Work for Daily Five they knew what skill to work on.  I change the activity in the tub weekly until I retest.  If it is a worksheet, I write each child's name on it so I know who did and didn't finish very quickly!  It really helps with management!

I love my drawer tubs.  These I got from Target (paid more for the color but love them!)

My Schedule

Monday and Tuesday I teach whole group reading comprehension, accuracy, fluency and vocabulary using parts of the CAFE from The Sisters.  I use Treasures Reading Basal or children's literature to teach the comprehension skill of the week.

Wednesday thru Friday I pull small groups to work on the comprehension skill with a reading passage that is at a differentiated level.  I have three groups.  I meet with each group twice during these three days.  I call this Apple Time (Red/Yellow/Green).  I explained to the students that we all are using different books; that is why we have different colors but we are all working on the same skill just like the apples are all white inside! So while we all have different books we all are working on the skill visualization (or another comprehension skill of the week).  We also work on vocabulary and some fluency and decoding.  But my main goal is comprehension.

I print these out and staple to red folded construction paper to make their folders to hold their small group material.  I have coordinated baskets from Really Good Stuff to hold their folders.  If you would like the Red/Yellow/Green covers click the picture.  

Notice the color coordination? :)

Where am I getting my resources to teach these groups? (some free/need subscription)


reading room

What are the other kids doing while I have small group?

They have their folders with them at their desks.  They are given a writing prompt, spelling practice and one additional activity.  This week we did a book report.

Writing Prompt

There are so many different writing prompt books to choose from or make up your own.  Use magazine pictures or old calendars.  I really like to talk up that I can't wait to see what wonderful stories they come up with so they start doing some of their best work!  Next week I am giving them a choice of three different pirate writing prompts!  I can't wait to see their writing!  We are working on expanding our writing to more than a description of the picture.  They need to have characters, setting, problem and solution.  Some have to go back a few times but they have such pride in their ending result!

Spelling Practice

Each student gets a stapled copy of this practice choice sheet.  My sheet has their spelling words on it.  To pick up your copy click on the picture.  We have 10 words a week so each day they use a 10 box sheet to write their words into.  They have the three days to do the two activities.  If they don't finish by Friday they stay in at recess to finish.

Another Activity

This week I chose for the students to do a book report on a book they already read in their book box.
Other Ideas:
Phonics Activity
Silent Read
Tablet (We have subscription to
Late Work
Dictionary/Thesaurus Work
Vocabulary Practice
Sight Word Practice

My small group time is different than guided reading.  We are not doing book walks, word work, extensive decoding and the groups are larger.  I group the children with similar reading abilities but not exactly the same level.  I choose passage that are a best fit for the whole small group as best as I can.  I still have guided reading groups.  These groups are based on their guided reading level.

Wow - that's a lot of info!  If something I wrote isn't clear please ask and I will try to explain it better.

Here's a differentiated math game freebie for sticking with me to the end!
Click on the photo to get 6 different playing boards.

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