Eight Easy Ways to Differentiate in the Classroom

Differentiation is necessary to ensure that you are meeting all your students' needs.

However, the question is…

“How do I differentiate when it’s not explicitly given to me?”

The activities you use in your classroom don’t always tell you how to differentiate for lower or higher students.

Scaffolding your students and using a ticket out the door can really help you understand your students' needs.

You can differentiate in several ways as you learn more about your students’ needs and deficits.

1) Worksheets

Print fewer copies and then cut them into rows or columns. Do students really need to complete 50 problems to prove they can do so? Assign students less problems to complete by choosing only even numbers or odd numbers. (When you think about it, do you really need to correct hundreds or thousands of problems?)

2) Differentiate by need

Create needs-based groups to reteach a concept or skill to small groups of students who need more support.

When you group students for centers and activities in your classroom, you differentiate if you group by need. However, don’t make a habit of grouping in this manner. Students must be with students of all levels because learning from peers is essential!

3) Let students differentiate themselves.

Use the “Show Me Your Fingers” system  and ask students who need help to join one side of the room. (After you do this a couple of times, they won’t be embarrassed because they will know that asking for help is beneficial to them.)

4) Differentiate by interest 

 If you are researching, have students work together on the topic that interests them most.

5) Differentiate by size

Are you working on handwriting? Differentiate by size! Students still needing help with fine motor skills can have activities printed in a larger font size. For students who have it under control, print the activity in a smaller font size to challenge them, as well.

6) Change the assignment

You can often use the exact same activity in different ways for differentiation. Let’s take task cards, for example. You can change the number of task cards for different students to complete. You can have your students who need support only write the answers, such as the letters. Your average student can write the answers, and your higher students can explain or show their answers through steps or pictures. You could also ask those students who finish early to write their own questions and answers for five more task cards.

7) Present the information in different ways

*Visual – Use videos to see and listen to the information for the students.

*Cognitive – Let your students read the information.

*Hands-on – Let your students create something.

8) Student's Choice

For a cumulative assignment, let students choose how they want to present their understanding. It could be through book reports, written assignments, graphic organizers, explaining the information, etc.

You are probably differentiating all day long, but it’s not always conducive to writing it down in your lesson plan book. List ways you differentiate learning throughout the day, type it up, make copies, and staple or glue it in your weekly lesson plan unless your administrator requires you to.

This will show all the many ways you differentiate in your classroom without taking extra time each week to write down every tiny detail because that is time-consuming and detrimental to getting out of your classroom on time each day.

Take action now. Brainstorm a list of the different ways you can differentiate in your classroom.

Share this pin with others when you save it to return to these tips.

Finding simple ways to differentiate and meet students' needs is just...

Ten Ideas for Early Finishers who ask "I'm Done. Now What?"

There’s a fine line between giving students enough practice and giving too much work (even worse…“busy” work). This is stressful for you and the students.

The more you give them to do, the more work you have to do.

No matter what you do, your higher students will probably be finished early. Don’t punish these students for being finished by handing out more worksheets!

1)  Consider using these early finishers' task cards instead of copying more worksheets and making more plans. Students will be able to be creative and stretch their brains more than just simply doing another worksheet.

2)  Some students will thrive on free time to read books. This is a good solution also.

3)  Give your early finishers activities rather than another worksheet (which makes things harder for you).

Let them play digital math and literacy games, even if it’s a different subject. Digital games that include science or social studies, math, and reading all in one interactive game is a plus.

4) Assign high-interest research activities via Google Slides that cover science or social studies topics, reading, and writing. Click here to see some high-interest topics.

5) Use task cards that stretch your students’ brains by having them make lists, create, etc.

6) Consider using some good “old-fashioned” fun by setting up a place in your classroom with a challenging jigsaw puzzle.

7) Let a couple of students pair up and play a game in the hallway. This is particularly effective if you have a student in need of intervention. The student will gain knowledge and understanding while playing with a friend by playing a game that covers the subject (consider adding task cards to a game board for the questions).

8) Use again for your early finishers.

9) Use math manipulatives as STEM activities.

10) Let students draw. A blank piece of paper, writing utensils, and imagination can be just the outlet that some students need. Plus, drawing helps with those fine motor skills!

The list goes on and on. Think about the things you already have in your classroom.

Rather than printing more worksheets (which you then have to grade), consider ways to use fun learning activities.

What is your favorite activity to use with early finishers? I would love to hear about it! Comment below to tell me!

Filling the needs of your students without making extra work for you. That’s just…

Frequently Asked Questions About NO PREP Literacy Centers

If you have questions about NO PREP Literacy Centers, I have the answers!!

Q: How do I design effective literacy centers for the elementary classroom?

A: You can include anything in literacy centers that fit your students’ needs. You can use items that you are currently teaching as well as review ideas. Literacy centers should be a time for students to practice a concept to improve. 

Q: What grade levels are these No Prep Literacy Centers designed for?

A: These easy literacy centers with no prep activities have been specifically designed for second, third, or fourth grade classrooms.

You can see my second-grade units here.

You can see my third-grade units here.

And the fourth-grade units here.

Q: Are these units aligned with any state standards?

A: No, these no-prep literacy activities are not aligned with any state standards or curriculum. The units are designed to cover the skills most commonly taught in the designated grade level, so most teachers find these easy literacy centers very helpful.

Q:  What is special about these NO PREP Literacy Centers?

A:  These literacy centers were created with the busy teacher in mind. No Prep saves you time by making lesson planning and setting up your centers a breeze, as they are just print-and-go!

Q: What is included in each monthly unit?

A: These monthly units are jam-packed!

Each monthly unit includes:

  • Literacy Centers that are print and go.
  • Bonus activities 
  • Direction Posters for students to follow to free you from having to explain.
  • Detailed information telling how I use literacy centers in my classroom.
  • Ideas of how to conduct intervention groups while other students are in centers.
  • The year-long bundle includes a guide to the literacy skills and concepts covered for the entire year, along with the month(s) in which you can find them.

Q: Can these literacy centers help struggling readers?

A: There is a detailed “How to Use” information guide included. This will explain how to set up centers in your classroom so that you have more time to work with your struggling readers in an intervention group during the center time each day.

Q: Are answer keys included?

A: Yes! Answer keys are included!

Q: How long does it take to complete these activities?

A: Most of these literacy centers can be completed in one daily literacy rotation. However, sometimes there are activities included that are meant to be used for two weeks.

Q: What makes these centers “NO PREP”?

A: These units do not include color ink. Instead, color can be brought by printing the directions on color-copy paper. Any required cutting is all straight lines for easy and fast cutting. (Consider letting students do the cutting.) There is no need to laminate and prepare weeks in advance. Print, go, and use today!

Q: How do I store these units?

A: You have options with these centers! Simply throw everything away after using it and print again next year. Of course, if you prefer to save, you can choose to laminate it and keep it to use again during the year or next year.

Q: Can I use these no-prep literacy center activities more than once?

A: Yes! These centers can be used throughout the year. They are perfect for intervention, enrichment, review, and more!

Q: What are some printing options?

A: There is no color ink used in these NO PREP units. Just print and go on your choice of white copy paper or colored copy paper.

Q: How will these NO PREP LITERACY CENTERS help ME?

A: Included is a “How to Use” detailed information that explains how to use only five ELA centers each week, how to implement themwhat to use in the centers, and how to keep those same five titled centers for the entire year to ensure that you have easy centers that work for you!

This setup makes planning and prepping so very simple, meaning you can leave the classroom on time each day to have more time to spend on your personal life and with your family!

And that my friends is just...
My Kind of Teaching!