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by Amy Humphreys, Ed.M., National Board Certified Teacher
Maximize student achievement. As classroom educators, our job is to teach in ways that fit learners, rather than forcing students to adjust to our instructional preferences. So how do we do that? It’s called Differentiated Instruction (DI). Through DI we deliberately offer multiple avenues through which students can master essential skills and knowledge. This strategic way of planning for student success challenges both regular division and gifted learners. And it is exactly the kind of prescriptive instruction necessary to support at-risk learners under Response to Intervention (RTI).
In a differentiated classroom, the learning standards provide the foundation and the teacher, students, and their parents must share a clear understanding of those targets. Add to that
and you have the essential ingredients for a differentiated learning environment that maximizes achievement.
While many teachers recognize the value of DI, it is demanding to meet a wide range of learner needs on a daily basis. Help is here. Evidence-based understandings about writing and ways in which students learn best have been translated into each Strategies for Writers Extensions Online making them appropriate for varied readiness levels and learning profiles. Every activity uses a combination of visual, written, oral, and kinesthetic elements and deliberately leverages the power of collaboration and conversation so students learn to think like writers in fun and engaging ways. By strategically using the core lessons and extensions, you are providing consistently differentiated learning opportunities that encourage deeper understanding of essential writing skills among all the learners you teach. It is a perfect recipe for student success.
Each of the Strategies for Writers Extensions Online activities addresses multiple writing traits and can be revisited several different times throughout the year. In fact, you can even incorporate authentic writing, vocabulary, and skills you want to target with your students into many of the activities. That means you provide greater instructional precision for individual students and thereby achieve better results overall.
Although the directions for the Extensions are simple, it is important to briefly discuss them with students and to do some modeling to insure essential learning targets are clear, to maximize time-on-task, and to facilitate smooth transitions into and out of the activities.
Teaching tips are provided for each extension so you can easily adapt many of the games and activities for either whole or small group settings. Suggestions for providing additional support or challenge are also given regularly to insure you have other easy-toimplement ideas to extend your DI efforts and boost students’ achievement. And since we know you’re busy, we’ve designed each Extension so it requires little or no advanced preparation other than copying and perhaps cutting apart task cards and placing items in zip bags for easy use and storage.
Please take a few minutes to preview the different Strategies for Writers Extensions Online available as PDFs at www.sfw.z-b.com. By printing and keeping the Extension Overview Chart next to your plan book and Teacher Edition, you can see at a glance the games that correspond to the skills and concepts you are currently addressing. Use assessment results to determine the learning needs of your students, choose an appropriate extension, print, and play. With Strategies for Writers Extensions Online, the engaging differentiated learning options your students deserve are just a mouse click away.
Reinforcement and Enrichment
You’ll find additional suggestions for differentiating instruction in the Strategies for Writers Teacher Edition. Every unit contains a number of Reinforcement activities to help students better understand the targeted skills and concepts, and Enrichment activities that provide additional challenges for your more proficient students.