Category Archives: Differentiation

Rocking Adobe Spark Video at Pinckneyville Middle School

This article was written by Lisa Kasko, a 7th Grade Language Arts Teacher from Pinckneyville Middle School.

Sherrie Disco, Pinckneyville Middle School’s Local School Technology Coordinator, popped into my room and said, “Kasko, you just have to try Adobe Spark Video. I just learned about it and think you could rock it!” and left a post-it note on my desk with the website and log instructions on it.


We had recently talked about using student-brought devices (BYOD) to supplement the one laptop cart we had available to focus on collaborative learning via technology. Intrigued by how Adobe Spark could help us, we decided to have students use either the free Adobe Spark app they could download to their devices or the website itself. 

Adobe Spark Video lets you share your learning or growth in a really slick, professional way. Our plan was to have students cite textual evidence of a literary device in action, record themselves reading the quotation from the text,  and analyze the author’s purpose of using that literary device. Differentiation is endless with Adobe Spark Video: students can start with templates like show and tell, promote an idea, or tell what happened, or they can start from scratch.


My favorite component is hearing them record what they have to say in their own voice. Using touch recording, they easily capture their voices and use their voice style to connect with their audience in their own unique way. Then they bring the project to life by finding the perfect imagery: icons, images–they can even upload their own photos–to match their story’s mood and message to help create the theme of their project. To top it off, they select the perfect soundtrack that enhances their presentation. The BYOD option allows them to use music they already have stored in their devices and make even more of a personal connection.


They don’ t know this yet, but these Spark Videos are going to be the “sparks” for their next writing piece. Their prewriting phase is done: they already have cited facts accompanied by recordings of their own voices arguing their support and analysis. But, their prewriting doesn’t stop there–they have visualized the author’s purpose of their piece with the imagery they selected and topped off the mood of their argument with music. I’m pretty excited to see how this impacts their writing!




Differentiation CREW

What is it?

Differentiation: Imagine sitting in a class like the video above. Would you be engaged in learning? Would you be interested in the lesson? More than likely you wouldn’t be engaged. Differentiation is a way of teaching that draws students in to learning that is individualized for them. It is intentional, small group, data-driven instruction. It is also an ever present battle that teachers fight. How do you provide instruction that meets the needs of every learner in your classroom when each student has unique needs? Teachers can differentiate their instruction in three ways: Content, Delivery, and Assignment. Let’s take a look at each.

Content involves what the students are learning or what is being taught. For teachers in Gwinnett County, this would be the Academic Knowledge and Skills, or AKS. This is where pretests come in handy. Pretests provide data that can let the teacher know if students have the prerequisite skills needed to learn the new AKS, if students need to review content taught in a previous grade level, or if students only need a short introduction before diving deeper into the content.  For instance, if students can demonstrate that they have already learned an AKS, then their content can be differentiated by allowing them to go above and beyond or deeper into a content topic.

Delivery is how the content is being taught. Many of us are familiar with Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. It states that each of us learns best in a unique way. See below for a description of each of the learning styles.

Differentiation CREW Article Graphic 2

For students in our classrooms, many of them identify with more than one learning style. To best differentiate our instruction to fit the needs of our students, we should present new concepts and skills in multiple ways.

 Differentiation CREW Article Graphic 3

Although it takes a lot of planning, it is best when you can deliver content in a way that incorporates many different learning preferences (or styles). Now, that is not to say that each student needs to see and participate in each of the delivery methods. If a student learns best through musical and bodily-kinesthetic activities, they might participate in those rather than the linguistic activity. This is why we call it differentiation. Each student participates in different activities that fit their specific learning needs.

The assignment is the task or product that the student is creating, i.e., how the student will demonstrate their learning. This can be differentiated in many ways. A student who needs frequent breaks might complete small chunks of the assignment at a time with a break in between each chunk. Some assignments might address prerequisite skills while other might be more appropriate for a proficient level learner. Providing assignments at the level of each of our learners prevents frustration from difficult tasks as well as boredom from tasks that are too simple.

Let’s Take A Look

Below is an example of a differentiated lesson.

CREW Differentiation Article Graphic 1

Call to Action

As an educator you will always have learners with unique needs. What are examples you can share about how you have differentiated in the past? How will you differentiate to meet the needs of all your students? What are your goals for differentiating in the next school year? Share your answers to these questions in a comment below and let’s learn from each other!