Independent Reading Projects For Differentiated Instruction Groups

Differentiated reading projects focus on individual learning at different readiness levels.

Differentiated instruction takes into consideration the needs of individual students. Teachers who use differentiated instruction are able to effectively teach students at different stages of their learning process. This is an especially good way to teach reading. Students who receive help with reading based on their level and how they need to improve as individuals are less likely to have gaps in learning that can adversely affect them later. Independent reading projects for differentiated groups provide many opportunities for success in reading.

Book in a Bag

Book in a Bag is a project used each week for the entire school year for differentiated reading instruction. It is appropriate for first and second grades. This project can be for groups or for individuals. It requires parent volunteers to be in the classroom to hear students read and help them choose a new book each week. The time commitment for parent volunteers is about one hour per week. For this project, students choose books from their appropriate levels one day per week. They read the books together in their groups for parents and then take the books home in plastic bags. In the bags are questions about the stories. At home, they read the books out loud to their parents and answer the questions. The parents then check off that they have read the books, and the students return their books in the bags. When they read the books out loud to parent volunteers, they receive “job-done” check marks for the books. At that time, they get to choose other books from their levels to take home in their bags. Student levels are checked periodically throughout the term to be sure they are reading books that are at the right instructional levels.

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Portfolio Reading Assessment

Portfolio reading assessment is an appropriate project for both middle school and high school. This project provides differentiated instruction by giving the students a variety of ways to approach the project and allowing students to be creative. Students choose novel to reads. They then develop a portfolio around the theme of their chosen books. Possible approaches are synopses of the books, their own unique illustrations of the book, slogans or marketing campaigns to promote the book, cover designs, original poetry that matches the theme of the book and character analysis. This project can be bound in a three-ring binder or presented as a PowerPoint show for classrooms with that technology. Add another component, and give students who like to do oral presentations the opportunity to present their portfolio to the class in a dramatic way.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are effective tools for differentiated instruction in reading. Students receive graphic organizers before they read a book or story. These charts have boxes or sections that help students organize information. Graphic organizers can be set up in various ways but should include some key components of reading instruction. They should have sections for before reading, after previewing the book and after reading. In each section, include boxes where students can answer questions about what they know about the book, what they want to know and what they learned while reading. Use graphic organizers to map stories according to main ideas, subtopics and supporting details. You can also use them to show sequence of events and similarities and differences in different parts of a book or compared to other books.

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Tiered-Learning Reading Project

Tiered-learning reading projects provide for differentiated instruction by designing projects according to readiness levels. For this project, students in each level of readiness will aim for different outcomes but will all contribute to classwide learning. Choose a story or book for the entire class. Tier I readiness level groups — those groups below grade level— will focus on the factual aspects of the story. Include questions like “Where did the story take place?” “Who are the main characters?” “How did they interact in the story?” and “What are the most important events in the story and when did these events take place?” Tier II groups, or those learning at grade level, will focus on the analysis of the characters in the story, how they compare and contrast and what role each of them played in creating and developing the plot of the story. Tier III groups, or advanced students who are above grade level, take the story a little bit further by predicting what will happen in the future after the story is over and writing an extension to the story. This group can extend this part of the project even more by comparing the story to real life and how aspects of it are true for them. At the end of the project, each students in group share what they learned with the rest of the class.