Project-based learning (PBL) naturally lends itself to differentiated instruction. Because of its design, it is student-centered, student-driven, and gives space to teachers to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways. ABP can enable effective differentiation in assessment as well as daily management and instruction. We all have to try specific ideas and strategies to get our brains to work in a different context. Here are some specific differentiation strategies to use during a project.
1) Differentiate through Teams
We all know that heterogeneous grouping works, but sometimes homogeneous grouping can be an effective way of differentiating into a project. Sometimes, in an APB project based on the literature, it might be appropriate to differentiate by clustering at the reading level. That way, you can have groups that need intensive work and ensure they are getting the instruction they need. Teamwork must be intentional, in order to know the “why” of how we structure teams. Are you differentiating academic ability? Are you differentiating from collaborative skills? Are you differentiating socio-emotional effects?
2) Reflection and Goal Setting
Reflection is an essential component of BPA. Throughout the project, students should reflect on their work and set goals for further learning. This is a great opportunity for them to set personalized learning goals and for you to target specific instruction to the goals they set.
3) Mini-Lessons, Centers and Resources
Maybe you offer mini-lessons or work centers to support your students learning, or maybe you show students a variety of resources to learn from, including videos, games, and readings. Students move to the perfection of product work to learning stations, resources and mini-lessons based on what they know. Students are attuned to their learning that they are able to actually take ownership of it, and the teacher provides instruction without taking over. Not all students may need the mini-lesson.
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4) Voice and choice of products
Another essential component of ABP is the student’s voice and choice, both in terms of what students produce and how they use their time. Specifically to products, you can allow students to show what they know in a variety of ways. From written, artistic or theatrical components, you can differentiate the ways in which students are evaluated. His passions are actively in play. Again, it all depends on the standards you are evaluating, but do not let the rules limit your thinking. Yes, you can have a written component you are evaluating writing.
5) Differentiate through formative assessments
Formative assessments may look the same for all students. They may also look different. We know that students can show what they have learned in different ways, as mentioned earlier, in terms of elaborate products such as summative assessment. Maybe you are aiming for a collaboration in the project. You can differentiate a formative assessment of this through a variety of ways. Maybe it’s an oral conference. Maybe it’s a series of written answers.
6) Balance of teamwork and self-employment
Teamwork and collaboration occur regularly in a PBL project. We want to leverage collaboration as well as content. However, there are times when individual instruction and practice may be necessary. It is necessary to differentiate the learning environment, since some students learn better on their own, and others learn better in team. In fact, we all need time to process and think.