Differentiated homework is a phrase I invented for the gradebook to indicate days when students receive homework based on what they already know and could stand to practice. Rob might get adding fractions while Amy might get one-step equations. I’m the only one who can do this for my class. I know my class and I know what they can and cannot do. Here’s my not-exactly-stunning observation on these homework days: I get back a far greater percentage of the homework than I usually do. I may get it all back. This never happens when I give out the assignment associated with the lesson plan I am required to give because of the curriculum-selected-by-the-East-Coast-consultants. What they can’t do, they don’t do.
I put a catch-phrase in the blog a few days back that I like: Whoever is doing the doing is doing the learning. If they can’t do, however, they don’t do, at which point no learning takes place.
Eduhonesty: We don’t improve America’s test scores by working years above student’s academic operating levels. Differentiation can’t fix the problem of lower-scoring students if a teacher can’t differentiate materials. Sometimes those materials need to be changed. In the meantime, I’ll keep giving handing out my varied homework assignments. Interestingly, the kids don’t seem to mind at all. I say, “You do this one,” and they happily take the sheet. They like being given something they can do.