differentiation“How do I differentiate?” It’s one of the most asked questions in education today. It all seems so complicated, overwhelming to implement, and far too important to look past.  But, what if it’s NOT complicated nor overwhelming after all?

What if kids were engaged in thinking, inquiry-style, and investigating?  What if your role as the teacher was a facilitator instead of the sole deliverer of all instruction?  It is often said that “it’s impossible to plan 24 different lessons for 24 different kids.”   What if we don’t have to  and it will still work… even better.

What if your class was studying Missouri History and exploring the journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark?  Let’s just say some of the standards involved for the week were writing first person narratives, creating a timeline, understanding how our history effects us today, elapsed time, and the geography of the US.

What if your entire lesson centered around the question, “How did the past shape our lives?”  That one question is so open-ended and has room for so many discussions, connections, and most of all, tiny dots of standards along the way.

We’ve spent all of our time focusing on how to differentiate the standards.  We don’t have to.  Let’s let the learning differentiate, naturally, through big questions.

While some kids are comparing and contrasting Lewis and Clark to other explorers they are interested in, you suddenly have time to help that student struggling to read on grade level.  While a small group of kids is designing a digital story that tells the journey of Lewis and Clark, they’re learning how to collaborate.   Best of all? We don’t have to gather a million resources.  The internet already does that for us.  Teach our kids to search, encourage their curiosity, hear their questions, and move out of their way.

Suddenly, differentiation isn’t about impossible teaching, it’s about all the possibilities in learning.