Providing for Individual Needs

The first opportunity for differentiation with students is during the Launch. Based on your experiences with your students, you may launch the day’s Problem in a way that best meet the needs of your students. Launching the Unit and individual Investigation Problems so that all students have access to start the Problem is the key.

During the Explore the teacher’s observations and follow-up questions posed will differentiate instruction for learners. Posing questions to redirect or clarify situations for struggling students is beneficial to learners. Keep in mind that students should be encouraged to continue their line of reasoning rather than be redirected to the teacher’s line of reasoning. Posing questions to encourage students to think more deeply or to justify their responses is appropriate as well. Finally, posing questions to challenge students to take the Problem concept to the next level of difficulty is also effective.

The Summarize allows for differentiation as students share their thinking with their peers. With the focus question in mind, use the Summarize to build on student understanding from a basic level to a more sophisticated level. Not all students need to be at the same level of understanding for a given Problem. Their knowledge will continue to grow throughout the Unit and in the following Units. The Focus Question can be a guide to whatever level of understanding is appropriate for each individual.

The results of the collaboration that occur during the Explore continue into the Summarize, but now groups come together as a whole class to share and refine ideas and strategies. It is important that all students have an opportunity to participate in the Summarize. The classroom conversation that occurs during the Summarize provides an important opportunity to push students’ mathematical thinking. By examining and testing ideas, students can learn mathematical skills and strategies and make connections and generalizations. You might use the following suggestions to increase interaction and participation:

  • Encourage students to respond to another student’s or group’s presentation and conjectures
  • Have students summarize the essence of a student’s or group’s presentation
  • After a student or a group presents, have others in the class ask questions to challenge the student’s or the group’s thinking
  • Ask a student to create and post an incorrect solution to stimulate the thinking of the class and generate a conversation
  • If you have a student who struggles, find opportunities for him or her to present when you know he or she has a correct answer
  • If there is repetition among strategies, have students discuss the similarities or contribute new thoughts, rather than just repeat ideas
  • Encourage students to look for common ideas in their strategies and representations

More information on differentiating can be found here.