Great Minds Think Differently: Leveraging the Benefits and Addressing the Challenges of a Heterogeneous ELL Classroom

Overview | Workshop Format | Sessions | Resource Guide | Outcomes

Session 1
Introduction to the workshop series (1 hour and 10 minutes)

This session uncovers and examines the operational definition of differentiation for the workshop series.  Participants begin by engaging in a discussion of their own beliefs about and experiences with differentiation and watch various video clips that contribute towards their understanding of the connection between heterogeneity and collaboration in a classroom.

Session 2
Differentiation Strategies Station Rotation (can also be broken up into two one hour workshops)– ( 1 hour and 40 minutes)

This session takes participants through a series of 5 stations using videos, curriculum and other resources to enable participants to engage with core differentiation strategies contained in the guide: Great Minds Think Differently: Strategies for Helping English Language Learners Thrive in the Heterogeneous Classroom.  After each station, participants discuss questions they have, challenges they see, and ideas for implementing each strategy into their own curriculum and instruction.

Session 3
Jigsaw of Differentiation Strategies and Multiple Intelligences Activity (1 hour and 30 minutes)

Building on the station work done during session 2, this session has participants look at 5 more strategies contained in the resource guide through a jigsaw activity in which they are teaching each other about the strategy they learn.  Following the jigsaw activity, the workshop moves into a discussion of Multiple Intelligences and has participants collaboratively develop an activity that gets at multiple intelligences of their students.

Session 4
Developing Complex Curriculum for All Students (1 hour and 15 minutes)

This workshop begins with a discussion of the difference between difficulty and complexity. Participants engage in a card sort activity that gets at this distinction in order to emphasize the importance of doing complex work with all students, even if we need to scaffold it heavily to make it accessible.  They then watch a video of a group of Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) who are doing an activity on analyzing character (complex) with many scaffolds in place so that they are able to access it.   The session ends with having participants analyze a sample project from their discipline to note and discuss the ways in which it provides access and engagement for multiple levels of students.

 Session 5
Differentiating Activities and Assessments to Achieve the Same Objectives (1 hour)

This activity looks at how, in the context of a project-based unit, we can support ELL students in working towards the same objectives as their native English speaking peers even if they are at varied levels of English proficiency and engaged in different tasks.  Working in small discipline-based groups, participants are given the outline of a project from their discipline containing the project overview, driving question, unit language and content objectives, and weekly content and language objectives for each week of the project.  The activity guide then walks the groups through developing a well differentiated lesson for one of the days of the unit that helps all students work towards the desired objectives.  This activity enables participants to apply the strategies they have been learning during previous sessions and to build them towards developing differentiated lessons for their own curriculum.

Session 6
Differentiating a Text/Activity (1 hour)

Building on the work of Session 5 in which participants were given the language and content objectives, this session has participants look at a difficult text or activity from their discipline and create their own objectives as well as a plan for ensuring that all kids are accessing the text/activity, albeit at different levels.

Session 7
Curriculum Development and Sharing (1.5 hours)

After having developing a well differentiated lesson for their own classroom for homework, this session brings participants together to share with and get feedback from their peers on further adaptations.  The protocol used helps to establish a framework for future team or discipline-based discussions of incorporating effective differentiation into curriculum.