Differentiate Worksheets Without Breaking a Sweat

What if I told you that you could differentiate your math worksheets, for any grade level, without getting out your computer, your white-out, your pens or, even taking a trip to the copier? Would you believe me? What if I told you that, without any work at all, you could be differentiating in a more effective way?

Read on, my friends.

You’ve heard me go on and on about the benefits of a C-R-A (Concrete, Representative, Abstract) approach in the classroom and it’s the perfect approach to differentiating independent practice without breaking a sweat! Take a look at how one worksheet can be used to reinforce place value by meeting the needs of (at least) 3 different types of learners.

The Concrete Learner
For your learners who need the most support, give your students the worksheet along with a set of base ten blocks. Students can build each problem with blocks as they learn.
The Representative Learner

Your representative learner thinks that solving place value problems using base ten blocks is a breeze but isn’t quite ready to use mental strategies to solve this type of problems. A place value chart may be just the scaffold they need to solve these problems.

Earlier on students may be drawing dots on a place value chart but, as they progress, they may be able to simply write the numerals in each place to organize their thinking.

A place value drawing would be an equally valid way to show this thinking in a representative way and is a more direct link to the base ten blocks for students who are just ready to dip their toe into a representative model.

The Abstract Learner 

For your learners who are starting to be able to do this work mentally, you may challenge your students to write an equation that matches each problem. Linking their place value thinking to the equation without the use of manipulatives or representative models will allow them to become more fluent and automatic with both of these skills!

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