The barriers to differentiation


Teachers often spend hours building student-facing resources and organizing their teaching notes for a lesson. And only after they’ve prepared the whole-class essentials can they then focus on other aspects of lesson prep. This conundrum exemplifies Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: for teachers to focus on complex needs, they need to accomplish the basics first.

If we were to take Maslow’s pyramid and create a version for lesson planning, it would look like this:

Maslow

Stuck at the bottom

Essentially, teachers spend a majority of their lesson prep time building materials that make up the bottom half of the pyramid:

  • Piecing together PowerPoint presentations or flip charts
  • Deciding on student handouts
  • Figuring out the timing and logistics of a lesson

Once teachers complete the lower two sections, they don’t have as much time to complete the upper half. Creating whole-class materials from scratch can be daunting, especially for teachers with less experience.

Rising to the top

When lesson plans include classroom-ready materials, teachers can hone in on differentiating and prepping for small groups. They focus on the top of the hierarchy of needs because their lessons come with a whole-class foundation.

Take, for example, LearnZillion Illustrative Mathematics 6-8 Math. With this curriculum, teachers gain access to presentations, activity prep slides, and prioritized questions that are already built into the lessons.

As a result, they can spend their planning time working out the math of a lesson, reviewing the main teaching moves, and anticipating how to adjust that lesson to differentiate for their students. LearnZillion’s version of IM helps teachers prioritize complex classroom needs.

 WholeClassInstructionExample

Want to learn more? Get in touch.

 

Emily Priborkin is the Marketing Communications Associate at LearnZillion. A musical theatre nerd at heart, she'll gladly recite and perform all of the music from Les Misérables on command.

Curriculum-as-a-Service Curriculum Edtech Education LearnZillion Teaching