Extreme Differentiation that Doesn’t Drive You Crazy | Jon Bergmann | 6 Min Read

Have you ever sat in a  PD session and the presenter talked about how you should differentiate, but you said in your head… No Way! They are crazy! It all sounds well and good, but… I am only one person. I can’t teach two, three, or four different things at the same time. It is impossible to do that with my students. During the pandemic, I tried this, and well… it didn’t work.  I can’t prepare that many different assignments. I can’t be in two places at once. In fact, during the pandemic, I felt like it wasn’t even that effective. I can’t do that and maintain my sanity. 

What if… and I’m serious here… you could really differentiate. You could meet the individual needs of your students without too much extra work. If you are intrigued, then read on.  

This article is one in a series where we will discuss how you can make mastery learning a reality. In this series, I am sharing how I, and thousands of other teachers, have transformed classrooms into a place where every student succeeds. In my previous articles, I gave an overview of Mastery Learning, then we learned that you don’t have to lecture to the whole class at the same time ever again and how to create a flexible pace for other students. Today we are going to focus on how to do extreme differentiation. If you haven’t yet read the other articles, I encourage you to go back so you can see the progression of how to do Mastery Learning well. 

So how do you do extreme differentiation that doesn’t drive you crazy? Below are the four top tips to differentiate extremely. 

Plan for Differentiation

Planning is the key to differentiating well. For me, I first sit down and identify the essential objectives or targets I want students to master. I ask: What do I think every student must know or be able to do? Second I identify what I will call the “nice to know” objectives. I then create a learning document (I print packets) that includes both all of the essential learning and the “nice to knows.”  That way I am creating one document that contains all of the learnings that I want students to master. This includes flipped video note outlines, question sets, and hands-on activities. I guess that you already have…

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Jon Bergmann

Jon Bergmann is one of the pioneers of the Flipped Class Movement. Jon is leading the worldwide adoption of flipped learning by working with governments, schools, corporations, and education non-profits. Jon is coordinating or guiding flipped learning initiatives around the globe including China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Middle East, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the United States. Jon is the author of 10 books including the bestselling book: Flip Your Classroom which has been translated into 10 languages. He has been an educator since 1986. He has served as a middle and high school science teacher, the lead technology facilitator for a school district in the Chicago suburbs, as well as a consultant/public speaker. He currently is teaching science and leading staff development at Houston Christian High School.