A bit about me, in case you haven't visited my blog . . . I am a kindergarten teacher and avid student of differentiated instruction. While I am by no means an expert on the subject, I'm constantly looking for new and more effective techniques to implement in order to meet the needs of students in my kindergarten class. Differentiated instruction is kind of a HUGE undertaking so I think anyone who is 'implementing' it is never really 'THERE.' You're always looking for new and better ways to make it work.
I know what you might be thinking. "Seriously? Differentiated instruction in kindergarten? Please! You can't possible think that they are ready? They can barely sit still for 3 minutes. How in the world is a classroom of 25-30 four to almost seven year olds, at different readiness levels, and with different interests AND different learning profiles going to complete different tasks all at the same time?"
Hey! I get it. I know it seems impossible, but I'm here to tell you. It's not! You just need to start out slow and choose one or two things to get you started in the right direction.
An easy way to start out is to think about differentiation as a way to respond to your students interests, their learning profile or their level of readiness.
I think of INTEREST as the thing we use to HOOK our students. But when we know very little about them before they walk through our doors in the fall, this can be a tricky task. In order to give myself a head start, I have parents fill out an interest inventory for their child BEFORE they arrive in my class. Mine looks something like this, but you can really make it whatever you want.
You’re welcome to use my copy if you’d like, just CLICK HERE to download it and have it ready for parents to complete at your open house or send it to their home before school begins in the fall.
By using this, and spending a lot of time those first couple of weeks chatting it up with my kinders, I get a pretty good idea of what themes or activities are going to pull them into my instruction. Purposefully considering this information when it comes time for instruction and activities is just one simple way to start differentiating.
The next way to differentiate is in response to learning profiles. This, of course, is not only the way a student learns best but also how they represent what the know. It includes learning styles and Gardner’s Eight Intelligences. I know we all KNOW these, but do you really consider them when you are planning? One of the struggles with children at this age is that often they have not even been exposed to many of these intelligences, so it is our job to give them opportunities to explore and experience these different areas. I like to keep this visual chart in my planner to use when planning my learning centers.