Differentiation 11 DIFFERENTIATE IN THE MOMENT No matter how much we prepare for instruction delivery, it is important to bring a backup plan. An additional source or activity devised to accommo- date different paces of learning could end up becoming the main activity if you realize it will resonate more with your students in that moment. These questions will assist you to differentiate on the spot: Are students already grouped together at desks or tables? This might mean that they are used to working in small groups, and/or that they have been intentionally grouped together. Maintain this setup for group activities you may ask students to complete independent work in these groups. Are students visiting a learning environment that is new to them? If so, avoid overstimulation by describing the room’s setup and usage expectations prior to bringing them into the space. Understand that their initial reaction may be from a place of excitement and nervous- ness. Giving them time to settle in will go a long way toward easing their transition. Are students attentive when one person is speaking? If they engage easily with a single speaker, you may wish to spend more time in a full-group discussion it might be ideal to do activities as a full group, rather than asking them to work individually. However, if students have difficulty focusing on a single speaker, limit the discussion. Pro- vide only the most essential instruction to the entire group and then circulate through the room to reiterate and clarify instruction with individual students or small groups. Are students distracted or having side conversations? Ask them to take a moment for silence. Or, invite one student to describe what they are working on students may be excited for an opportunity to have the spotlight on them. In other situations, it will be helpful to ask the students’ classroom educator for advice on how to help stu- dents focus many educators have techniques for responding to this challenge. Are students volunteering to respond to questions? Calling on indi- viduals directly may cause anxiety for some, so if few people volunteer consider switching to a turn-and-talk method. As we get to know our audience, we may shift our expectations for how they demonstrate mastery of the material being presented: If there is not enough time, cut a portion of the activity out, or set it aside for students to complete at another time either independently or with their classroom educator. If students are working through material very quickly, have a backup option (as noted earlier!). You may also incorporate prompts from classroom work you see around you (if you are in their space) by
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