A Wakeup Call for Differentiation

By David Nurenberg

Even if a course is designated “honors” or “remedial,” anyone who has taught real children knows that there is no such thing as a homogenous class—unless it has just one student. Forty years of research tells us that just because two dozen students share a classroom, it doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all approach will serve them.

Thanks to the pandemic, those students don’t even share a physical classroom anymore. Students are in so many different situations vis a vis their ability to engage with class, and the amount of support they have available at home, that we can no longer harbor any illusions that “teaching to the middle” will suffice.

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Digital Classroom Routines: or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Teaching Online

Over the last several weeks, many K-12 educators have pivoted, with little warning and minimal training, to teaching in a fully online setting. The challenge of transforming an established face-to-face learning situation into an online one in the midst of a global crisis is new, even for teachers who have planned and delivered digital curricula in the past.

On Friday, March 13th, I told my eighth- and ninth-grade students that school would likely be suspended for a couple of weeks. On Wednesday, March 18th, I convened online classes which, though I didn’t know it then, would stretch at least until the end of April. Between then and now, I have developed a rapidly-evolving repertoire of practices, guided by Jay Wiggins’ and Grant McTighe’s classic dictum of curriculum planning: begin with the end in mind, only with a twist.

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