Tag Archives: CREW

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!





Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) CREW

What is STEM?

STEM isn’t a subject being taught, but a way of teaching that encourages the natural curiosity in our students. Simply defined, STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. STEM is not about highlighting a specific subset of subjects, but is an approach to teaching and learning that encourages thought, collaboration, idea generating and testing, reasoning, and creative problem solving among teachers and students.


The overall idea of STEM is to incorporate all disciplines or as many disciplines as possible into the learning environment to help students understand the connectedness of the information they are processing and learning.

Let’s Take a Look!

So what does STEM look like in the classroom?


A Call to Action

With all the promises of the future, how does this information impact your instruction?  Where will you help students grow?  What resources do you need to incorporate STEM lessons into your classroom?  Share your answers to these questions in a comment below and let’s learn from each other!


Jolly, A. (2014, June 17). Six Characteristics of a Great STEM Lesson. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/06/17/ctq_jolly_stem.html

Ribeiro, R. (2013, May 15). Unpacking the Benefits of a STEM Education. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/05/unpacking-benefits-stem-education

Royal, K. (2013, August 28). Benefits of STEM Programs. Retrieved from http://connectlearningtoday.com/benefits-stem-programs/

STEM Education Infographic. (2013, November 21). Retrieved from http://elearninginfographics.com/stem-education-infographic/

 Waldron, D. (2016, April 08). Top 15 Benefits of a STEM Education Revisited. Retrieved from http://www.stemjobs.com/top-15-benefits-of-a-stem-education/

Formative Instructional Practices (FIP) CREW

Formative Instructional Practices (FIP)

The Georgia Department of Education has defined Formative Instructional Practices (FIP) as the intentional behaviors that teachers and students use to obtain information about learning so that decisions can be made about learning opportunities. Formative instructional practices are the formal and informal ways that teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of student learning.

Teachers determine what students are understanding and what they will need to learn to master a goal or outcome. Most formative assessment strategies are quick and easy to use and fit seamlessly into the instruction process.  The information gathered is never marked or graded, but is used to drive instruction.  Descriptive feedback should accompany a formative assessment to let students know whether they have mastered an outcome or whether they require more practice.


Teachers have many fun and engaging ways to check for understanding using digital technology. Some of my favorites include:



I love Kahoot for several reasons. When I have used Kahoot in my class, students are highly engaged. Another benefit of using Kahoot is that students and teacher know immediately whether they have gotten questions correct. But one of my favorite reasons would be as students play I can plan my teaching from the questions that students may not understand.


Teachers can create flashcards that review vocabulary, pose questions, and review content. Students are able to quiz themselves, check for understanding, and know immediately if their answer is correct or incorrect. Quizlet has a new feature called Quizlet Live that creates a game where students are randomly placed in groups.  They work together to obtain the correct answer. I Love Quizlet Live!

Classroom Assessments

Classroom Assessments in eCLASS C&I (Gwinnett County’s Learning Management System) is a great way to have students check for understanding. Classroom Assessments can be used to give immediate feedback to students about how and why they missed a question or how and why they got a correct answer.


Call to Action:

How have you been able to implement formative assessments into your class? What has worked for you? How can you provide effective feedback and use it to drive instruction in your classroom lessons?



Formative Instructional Practices: http://www.cgcatogo.com/uploads/1/0/6/7/10675379/formative_instructional_practices_.pdf

Georgia FIP:  The Keys to Student Success:  http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/GeorgiaFIP.aspx

Gradual Release CREW

What is Gradual Release?

The gradual release of responsibility model of instruction requires the teacher to shift from assuming all the responsibility for performing a task to a situation in which the students assume all of the responsibility.

There are four components in the Gradual Release of Responsibility model:

GR Infographic

Most importantly, the gradual release of responsibility model is not linear. Students have the opportunity to move back and forth between each of the learning phases as they master skills, strategies, and standards. Teachers can incorporate the gradual release model over a day, a week, or a semester.

Gradual Release Framework (1)

Implementing the gradual release of responsibility model requires time on the front end, however, as teachers, we have to plan for a diverse group of learners—students learning English, accelerated learners, and struggling learners. Our students do not have time to waste on skills and strategies they have already mastered. On the other hand, they cannot afford to miss any instruction necessary to their success as effective learners.

In this book, you’ll find tips and tools for classroom implementation, including checklists for planning and assessment; advice on feedback, homework, group work, differentiated instruction, and blended learning; gradualreleasebookanswers to frequently asked questions; and examples that align to Common Core State Standards. No matter what grade level or subject you teach, Better Learning Through Structured Teaching is your essential guide to helping students expand their capacity for successful and long-lasting learning.

I challenge you to increase your pedagogical knowledge with the Gradual Release model. Reflect on your past and current teaching methods and think about how do you use the gradual release module in your classroom? In what areas do you feel you could grow in any of the four phases of learning?  Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!

Fisher, D. and N. Frey, Better learning through structured teaching: A framework for the gradual release of responsibility, Association for supervision and curriculum development, Alexandria, Virginia, 2008.
Doug Fisher: A Broken Cell Phone, a Learning Opportunity [Video file]. (2014). Retrieved May 19, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaZQl6uovcU&feature=youtu.be.