HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal



Jewish day schools want every child to succeed in their learning and social-emotional development. How can schools accomplish those lofty goals while teaching many students in the same classroom? This issue explores that conundrum and showcases various ways that learning can be differentiated to meet the needs, capacities, and interests of different students. Articles address differentiation within the classroom, and supporting teachers to learn, transition to, and apply methods of differentiation. Authors discuss the "how-to" as well as the larger goals and vision.

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Differentiation: Proceed with Caution

by Rabbi Rafi Eis Oct 03, 2017 Mekorot Learning
RELATED TOPICS: PedagogyTechnology

It is hard to disagree with the goals of differentiated instruction. Carol Ann Tomlinson, differentiation’s most prominent theoretician and proponent, describes differentiation as student-centered learning, with teachers systematically changing the educational content, process or product to adapt to each student’s profile, interests and readiness. Given that every student has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, talents, interests, cultural upbringing and academic history, for any given lesson students will need a change in level or style to accommodate the differences.

Differentiation in an Inclusive Classroom

by Dr. Miriam Heyman, Shira Ruderman Oct 03, 2017 Ruderman Foundation
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityPedagogy

Special educators have delivered differentiated instruction for decades. After all, the rationale for enrolling students in special education is that in this setting, they will receive more individualized and specialized attention than would be available in regular education. Special education classes are almost always smaller than regular education classes; they have as few as six students with one teacher and one or more paraprofessionals. The assumption is that the special education teacher can focus on the precise learning needs of each student.

Differentiation in the Online Classroom

by John Englander and Lisa Micley Oct 03, 2017 The Virtual High School

Train a child according to his way; even when he grows old, he will not turn away from it.

This simple advice from Proverbs fosters a style of teaching that helps students reach their fullest potential as learners, and it speaks to the crucial development of a lifelong love of learning. It states a basic and profound truth: Each of us is unique; each of us learns “according to his [or her] way.” Who would have thought that one of the buzzwords in education, differentiated instruction, has been a part of the ancient canon of Jewish wisdom all along?

To Know Him Is to Know How to Teach Him (or Her): Relationship as the Key to Differentiation

by Rivky Ross Oct 03, 2017 Yeshivat Netivot Montessori, East Brunswick, New Jersey

The dynamic flexibility of the Montessori classroom allows endless modifications to be made to meet the needs of students with all types of complex learning profiles, but all of these opportunities translate into learning successes only when entrusted to teachers who are fully engaged with their students. The freedom of movement and choice of activities throughout the day allow teachers ample time to circulate in the classroom and interact with each child, to share quiet moments, to learn about their sense of humor, to understand how their mind works.

A Mindful Approach to Differentiated Classrooms: Kindness Matters

by JM Levine Oct 03, 2017 Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, Hyde Park, Illinois
RELATED TOPICS: PedagogyTefillah

The seminal ingredient of a successfully differentiated classroom is mindfulness. In cultivating mindfulness, specifically in the form of kindness, we create a true community of learners in a meaningful, not superficial, way. It is critical that all children feel competent in a differentiated classroom, and it is the teacher’s job to make sure that happens as often as possible. This starts with teachers being self-compassionate, teaching children that kindness matters and fostering the understanding that some children are not more equal than others.

Differentiation: The Key to Unlocking the Joy of Torah Study for All Students

by Lisa Exler and Bryna Leider Oct 03, 2017 Beit Rabban Day School, Jewish Education Project

In January, the third grader’s struggles with Chumash became almost unmanageable. He alternated between resting his head on his closed book, doodling in it and making jokes that disrupted his class at Beit Rabban Day School in New York City. When a teacher worked with him one-on-one and asked him to read a pasuk aloud, he responded, “I can’t. I hate Chumash.” Indeed, when he eventually opened his Chumash and started to read, he mispronounced many words.

Getting off the Blocks: Low-Barrier Entry Points for Personalized Learning Novices

by Jeff Liberty Oct 03, 2017 BetterLesson
RELATED TOPICS: TeachersPedagogy

Most teachers have had some experience with and training about differentiated instruction in the course of their careers. Recent developments in learning software design on the one hand and brain science on the other have shifted the conversation about meeting students’ needs away from differentiation per se and towards the concept of “personalized learning” (PL).

Resisting Nostalgia: Differentiation in Multiage Classrooms

by Rabbi Yehudah Potok, Head of School Oct 03, 2017 Striar Hebrew Academy, Sharon, Massachussetts
RELATED TOPICS: PedagogyStudents

When I was a student way back in the 80s, my classroom consisted of rows of desks where we students would sit for eight hours a day listening to the teacher “instruct” us. As you can imagine, I had peers who struggled a lot. My classroom was riddled with “behavior problems,” kids who just didn’t understand the content, students who always did poorly on the tests and quizzes, and children who went home feeling mentally beat up every single day.

Differentiation in Tanakh Classes: Integrating Students Who Transfer From Secular Schools

by Rebecca Friedman-Charry and Judith May, Judaic Studies Teachers Oct 03, 2017 Schechter School of Long Island, Jericho, New York

Like many schools, ours accepts some students who are beginning Jewish day school in middle or high school. How can we support these transfer students’ integration into the Tanakh classroom?

Math Differentiation Brings New Collaboration

by Beth Brown, Director of Curriculum and Instruction; Fallon Katz, Learning Specialist Oct 03, 2017 The Rashi School, Dedham, Massachussetts

The Rashi School recently designated a math specialist to mobilize teachers’ collaboration around meeting students’ diverse learning needs in mathematics. This specialist works in partnership with teachers to interpret and apply real-time data, assess student mastery, and identify opportunities for student development. Central to this collaboration between educators is ongoing reflection, information sharing, and goal-oriented adaptation of teaching approach based on documentation of each student’s learning.