When most teachers think of differentiation, they think of adapting lessons to meet the needs of those students who are having difficulty. This is something that I became quite skilled at doing during my experience in the classroom from 2003-2009. I worked collaboratively with special educators, reading specialists, instructional coaches, and other school personnel to help struggling students become more successful in school. I always enjoyed this aspect of teaching and how rewarding it can be to see a student who was once frustrated with school become excited about her own learning.

During the course of my program in gifted education, I have learned to differentiate for students whose learning needs include extra challenge in the forms of acceleration and/or enrichment. I have been fortunate enough to practice these skills in developing units and lessons geared for gifted learners.

In learning to differentiate "up" I have also become more comfortable differentiating instruction according to other student factors as well. These include student characteristics such as learning styles, preferences, and interests. I have learned both in and out of the classroom that students are empowered and motivated by choice. Hence, I try to leave space in my lessons to allow students to make decisions about what and how they will learn.

Here are a few examples of my work:
Ancient Greece: Culture and Influence
I wrote this third grade social studies unit for EPPL 612. This sample from that unit is a project idea sheet for a differentiated assignment in which students take on a variety of roles in considering Ancient Greece's most important contribution to modern society.

Hamburger Paragraphs: Where's the Beef?
I taught this lesson during student teaching in a fifth grade gifted classroom. The lesson itself is an accelerated version of the standard lesson on hamburger paragraph writing in which I used student samples from a pre-test to target instruction for the group of students I was teaching.

The American Revolution and The Civil Rights Movement
As part of my job with Project Civis, I spent many hours developing curriculum. The units were designed to be challenging, engaging, and empowering for underachieving yet promising learners. We differentiated the lessons in a variety of ways, such as providing varied reading materials, allowing student choice in products and topics of study, and designing lessons that access varied student learning styles and preferences.
Unfortunately, I am not free to share any lessons, since the study is in progress. Learn more about Project Civis here.