Thursday, February 27, 2014


According to Gail Bush in School Library Monthly (2006), "Differentiated instruction is a learner-centered instructional design model that acknowledges that students have individual learning styles, motivation, abilities, and, therefore, readiness to learn."

I know that differentiation is critical to effective teaching. However, I know that it is incredibly difficult to effectively differentiate in a classroom. I teach 4 classes every day. Each class has approximately 25 students who all have different learning styles.

One way that I have differentiated instruction in the past is to create MENU assessments. Here is an example of a MENU assessment that I have used in the past:

The Outsiders MENU assessment:

1 Point
·         Timeline of major events in novel
·         Create a 6 panel comic strip of the major events of the novel.
·         Describe each of the major characters using figurative language.
·         Create a movie poster that illustrates the three most important scenes in the novel.

2 Points
·         You know Johnny’s family. Write them a sympathy note expressing how you feel about what happened to Johnny.
·         Create a Facebook profile for one of the characters in The Outsiders. In addition to the profile, create a wall conversation with at least 10 comments that demonstrates your understanding of the character.
3 Points
·         You are Ponyboy and you are now a grandfather. Tell your story to your three grandchildren about what happened at the church.
·         In the novel, Soda is heartbroken when Sandy does not respond to his love letter (pg. 174). Imagine that you are either Soda or Sandy. Make an inference about their situation by either writing the letter from Soda’s point of view or responding to the letter from Sandy’s point of view.

4 Points
·         Graduation speech from Ponyboy’s perspective.
·         Advice column.
5 Points
·         The two opposing groups in The Outsiders are the Socials and the Greasers. Think of two opposing social groups today. Describe in a narrative one possible confrontation that may occur between the two groups. Be sure to include dialogue, descriptive details, and a well-structured sequence of events.
·         Write and perform a slam poem that raises awareness of gang violence in our society.

**Total points must add up to 20 in order to receive credit for this assignment.

This was a fun way to assess whether or not students understood the novel. Looking back, I wish I could have integrated the media center in this assignment. Students were able to write, create poetry, artwork, etc. There is a huge opportunity for them to use technology as well. Next year, maybe I will coordinate with the MC in order to effectively hit all learning styles and differentiate successfully.