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Teaching Reading: K-2 Workshop

Differentiating Instruction Put It Into Practice | Differentiating Instruction

Choose Activities

In this section, you will apply what you have learned to your own teaching. The three activities are designed to assist you in developing resources for differentiating instruction. Choose one or more of the activities from the list below.

Activity 1.
Develop a Flexible Grouping Lesson Plan

Develop a whole-class lesson plan using flexible groups, centered on a single text.

Activity 2.
Differentiate Instruction of Curriculum

Identify curriculum goals and the materials to support them, and determine different instructional strategies for teaching the content.

Activity 3.
Create a Handbook

Collect literacy resources for each workshop session in a Handbook for Effective Literacy Practices.

Develop a Flexible Grouping Lesson Plan

In this activity, you will design a reading lesson that uses a single text for whole-class instruction. Consider the goals of your instruction and the individual needs of your students.

  1. Print the Flexible Grouping Lesson Plan (PDF) as an outline for your lesson plan.
  2. Select a grade-level text for this lesson.
  3. Complete the Flexible Grouping Lesson Plan by organizing instructional strategies and grouping formats for each part of the lesson.
  4. For the three lesson parts, group students according to their reading needs for each component of the lesson: No Support, Some Support, and Significant Support. Those students who will be able to read the text independently will be included in the No Support group. Students requiring some support will read the text with a partner or teacher aide. Students who are in the Significant Support group will need to read the text with the teacher in a small group.

Convene the whole class to:

  • Present and develop a concept highlighted in the book. For example, you could focus on themes such as friendship, families, or animal friends and enemies.
  • Introduce vocabulary necessary to read the text or understand the theme.
  • Elicit predictions and a set purpose for the children’s reading.

Reading the Text
You may want to conduct an initial read-aloud to the whole-class or part of the class. Allow the class to move into their groups.

Assign activities to determine how each group will read the story. Activities may include reading the text aloud, discussing the themes of the text, and independent reading of related texts. Students reading with you may need additional vocabulary instruction or concept development before reading.

Assign written responses to the text, for example, workbooks or journal entries.

Responding to the Text
In whole-class or small groups, students will share their understanding and responses to the text. Plan two or three discussion questions for this section.

Assign other response activities, for example, retelling the story, returning to the themes of the text, and sharing writing.

Skills/Strategy Lesson
Extend the lesson to teach specific reading skills or strategies to the whole class or small groups. Decide how students will practice this strategy, for example, you may assign activities to reread the story, read other texts, or respond in writing.

Consider how this lesson provides equal access to the grade-level curriculum while meeting the needs of all students.

Assignment:  Submit your lesson plan.

Differentiate Instruction of Curriculum

In this activity, you will identify the grade-level themes, topics, or concepts in your basic curriculum areas, and plan instruction to meet the needs of all of your students.

Most school districts have required curriculum topics and themes to be taught at each grade level. While children should have equal access to the grade-level curriculum, they may require different levels of instruction and support in order to be successfully engaged. Teachers must first determine what materials support the curriculum topics and then sort the materials into levels of difficulty. They must also identify which instructional practices will support the literacy development for all their students.

In order to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of your students:

  1. Review your grade-level curriculum and identify the different curriculum topic in language arts, social studies, or science. Determine the specific learning goals and expectations for each topic.
  2. Explore reading materials that will support each topic. Consider Big Books, multiple copies of fiction and nonfiction, picture books, chapter books, poetry, and other print materials. Then classify each text as easy, challenging, or just right for your students.
  3. List instructional strategies that will support your lowest performers and challenge your highest performers when reading these materials. Relate these strategies to your goals and the text (e.g., rereadings for understanding and fluency, choral readings, retellings, note-taking skills, personal word lists, etc.).
  4. Create different groups to enhance learning of each curricular theme. Make a list of students in each group based on:
    – similar literacy needs
    – similar interests
    – work habits
    – background knowledge of topic
    – partner support
  5. List instructional practices that will support your lowest performers and challenge your highest performers for each curriculum topic. For example, reading aloud, rereading of texts, partner reading, note-taking strategies, graphic organizers, etc.

Assignment: Submit the differentiated instruction for one curriculum area.

Create a Handbook

In this ongoing activity, you will collect literacy resources in a Handbook for Effective Literacy Practices to use in your classroom.

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Do this activity with your colleagues to create a comprehensive collection of resources and instructional plans.


Today, you will create a section focused on differentiating instruction with an emphasis on flexible grouping patterns. Include resources you already use and plan to use in the future. Place them in the section for Differentiating Instruction. You may want to include:

  • the lesson plan you developed in Activity 1, adding additional flexible grouping lesson plans as you teach them
  • themes/topics, materials, grouping plans, and instructional practices recorded in Activity 2
  • a list of instructional strategies that support struggling and capable readers in reading and writing
  • a list of center activities that address the varied needs of all students in your grade
  • a list of required titles organized by grade level

Assignment: Submit a copy of your completed Handbook at the end of the workshop series.

Wrap Up: Reflect on Your Learning

In this section, you will review and complete your notes on differentiating instruction.

Review the notes you have taken during this session. Return to the Differentiating Instruction Chart you completed at the beginning of the session. Add any new ideas and insights about differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students. What additional grouping options might you implement? Then add any new ideas for questions and challenges related to flexible grouping. In a paragraph, respond to the following questions:

  • Which ideas presented in this session will enhance your teaching and advance the reading development of all students?
  • What questions or challenges do you still have?
  • What changes will you make in your literacy instruction?
  • What support will you need to make these changes?

Assignment:  Submit your completed chart and written reflection.

Series Directory

Teaching Reading: K-2 Workshop


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2003.
  • ISBN: 1-57680-681-2

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