Strategies Teachers Can Use to Differentiate Teaching and Learning, by Allison Booten, 5th and 6th Grade Science Teacher

Posted by Amy Smythe on 11/6/2017 12:35:00 PM


Teaching middle schoolers is no easy task! In an article from Edutopia, titled “Brains, Brains, Brains! How the Mind of a Middle Schooler Works,” one can learn that middle schoolers are in a constant state of change both mentally and physically.  This means that the middle school teacher also has to be in a constant state of change to keep up with the needs of his or her students. All teachers should individualize and differentiate their teaching and learning strategies to best fit the learner.  Many of these strategies can be seen being used in the middle school science classes.

One strategy used is hands-on experiments or demonstrations.  Sure, the students could learn the material by reading from a textbook or examining a diagram, but allowing them the opportunity to work with, measure, and manipulate variables offers a one of a kind learning experience.  I have seen exponential growth when interactive learning takes place.

These first-hand learning experiences also lead to another learning strategy-collaborative learning.  In today’s society it is so important for students to not only learn how to work together, but they have to learn to learn from one another as well.  During the hands-on labs, students are encouraged to discuss hypotheses and to draw from their different educational experiences.  It is truly remarkable see this age group argue-respectfully and defend their thoughts, predictions, and conclusions. It’s even greater to hear another say, “Oh wow! I never thought of that!” 

While the typical middle schooler is changing every day, they are still rising to the high expectations set by each of his or her teachers. This is especially evident in the science classroom.  When given the chance to complete hands-on activities and to collaborate with peers, middle schoolers constantly show us why they are some of the best schoolers!