Differentiation is a one word description for a method to reach every student and provide them with access to the curriculum that fits their learning style and their interests. There are four areas that differentiation can occur: product, process, content, and environment. Process differentiation is activities that students engage in for remediation, extension, or maintenance. These are the three areas that every one of your students will be working in at various times. Process differentiation can be activities scheduled a few times a week or something that you incorporate each day into your classroom.
- One of the ways to accomplish process differentiation is student centers or stations. An example of this is the Daily 5 process. The Daily 5 is five stations that students rotate through that focus on a different area. The stations can focus on working on writing, completing a task using manipulatives, paired reading, vocabulary work, and an independent activity. Manipulatives are very important for students that need to “see” a concept. They work especially well in math and science classrooms. Student stations can be modified to fit your content area. I’ve used the Daily 5 concept in my science classroom.
- Provide checklists for the students. One part of the checklist can focus on whole group activities while the other part is specialized tasks for selected students. Some of the specialized tasks could focus on remediation support for struggling students while other tasks could be extension activities for students who have mastered the basic concepts.
- Another way to differentiate process is through time to complete tasks as well as flexible groupings. Struggling students could have an extension of time as well as more opportunities for teacher assistance. A great way to figure out the different ways to adjust time and flexible groupings is to talk to special education teachers. Many special education students have specific accommodations that fit into this exact area. Legally, you have to provide these accommodations. This is a wonderful way to incorporate the accommodations for your inclusion students into your entire classroom.
I would also suggest talking to others in the education community to learn how they differentiate process in their classroom. It is important to note that whatever ideas they share can always be modified to fit in your classroom. No two classrooms are the same, but the methods we use can be applicable for us all. How do you differentiate process in your classroom?