At a recent professional development day we spent time thinking about differentiation, accommodations and modifications. After a brief introduction, where all K - 8 teachers were together, we moved to smaller groups with teachers representing all of the grades.
While we have been using RTI for a few years as well as a workshop model to meet the needs of various learners, it was quickly apparent that we didn't have a shared definition of accommodations, modifications and differentiation. We knew how to change lessons to help students, slowing down for some and extending for others. We have already become skilled at using benchmark assessments to identify students to spend some time in tier 2 interventions. We have "problem solving" meetings for students needing even more support which sometimes can lead to 504s or IEPs. It was time to build a shared understanding of the words that guide us through our lessons.
Here's what a quick overview of what we came up with:
• Targets are needed in order to determine what skills should be mastered.
• Students need to understand what they already know and what they need to work on to meet goals.
• Pre and post assessments cane help make sure students focus on the skills they need or are provided with extensions when they have met targets.
• Differentiation is used to adjust lessons for learners at both ends.
• Accommodations are put in place when students struggle with a concept and need it taught in smaller portions or in a different way to be successful.
• Modifications are made for students that continue to struggle over time and need targets/goals/lessons modified to be successful.
As teachers we do all these things, but don't always recognize when it is an accommodation, modification or the differentiating. Now we need to continue to create our own targets and provide valuable pre and post assessments for our units. Finding the TIME for this will be a challenge.