Differentiation is difficult.
So far we know that differentiation involves knowing our students learning needs so that we can work out how to accommodate those needs. Sometimes knowing that you have 8 students in your class with specific learning disabilities and another 6 with social emotional needs and 3 with behavioural issues, doesn’t mean you will know the next step towards supporting each of the students in your class. While one or two small changes can help a class full of diverse needs, it is important to know the specific ways to support various disabilities/ learning difficulties. Therefore, we all need to know more about learning difficulties and disabilities: or at the very least, have some go to resources where you can find the information you need.
School Based Resources
You will have learning support staff at your school whose job is to help you differentiate. The job title will be different based on the country, state or even district, but the goal is basically the same. They will have knowledge and experience of learning disabilities/ difficulties as well as information about specific students in your classes and how to support them. Use the expertise of your colleagues. Ask them for help. They want to see your students succeed which means they want to help you.
Secondly, get yourself a resource folder. Include information about disabilities as well as adjustments and tips from other teachers. Follow some great Pinterest Boards, join a facebook group, keep a list of webpages or links (there are plenty of ways to do this online, with the cloud, apps on your phone etc), follow some blogs. I would suggest keeping a hard copy folder as well. There will be handouts and resources you will create or receive in hard copy form and it will be good to know you can photocopy these at a moment’s notice.
Here is a short list of websites, textbooks and Pinterest Boards to get your resource folder started. Remember to tap into the resources at your school as well.
This book is a good one to have in your library. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/268104984043975771/
A board from Clutter-Free Classroom, remember that differentiation is more than just ‘low level’ students. https://www.pinterest.com/cfclassroom/stem/
The SEN teacher is still my “go to” online resource for information about every disability you can think of – including fact sheets, strategies, printable organisers and links to other online resources- and it is so helpful.
Stay tuned for more resources. Please share your own ideas and resources in the comments. The best way to build these resources is to share with each other. If you have questions about resources or specific disabilities/ learning needs, please ask in the comments and I will endeavour to help you out.