Monthly Archives: August 2013

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction Systems

Use Differentiated Instruction Systems to Save Time During Planning

The administrations that I worked under were always pushing differentiated instruction. I think I attended more differentiated instruction training seminars than years I taught. The biggest problem I found when I taught middle school social studies was finding time to plan for differentiated instruction. I had to learn the content before I could create a lesson plan and then I had to differentiate it and with only one planning period which was many times a week taken away for meetings. I was staying at work until nine at night and getting there at six in the morning to try to get everything done. Needless to say, I was exhausted and I was burned out before five years. I took a year off after moving, my husband is in the Army, and then started again. I ended up running around in circles once more.

I realized that there were two ways this could go for me. I could switch careers and work normal hours and actually have weekends off, or I could figure out a way to plan for differentiated instruction in a much faster way. I decided on the latter because I love to teach. I began to systems that helps me plan for differentiated instruction.

The first system I created was a leveled expository writing system. It has nine levels that can help bring a student who needs to focus on just writing a topic sentence and then listing the facts that support it underneath to a DBQ essay within a year’s time. Each template included the directions. They also included the grading checklist so that the student could see how they were going to be graded. All I had to do was write in the question I wanted my students to explore and the assignment was created. By using my leveled writing system, I increased the amount of writing that was done in my classroom and my students became much better writers. There wasn’t one student that didn’t show some sort of improvement in writing that year. When I became the SST chair for my grade level, I realized that this could also be used for the RTI process because it shows small achievable goals each student has made in their writing.

The second system that I created was for activities based on the Multiple Intelligence Theory. At the top of each activity were the Multiple Intelligences used in the activity. Under those, student roles were included to help keep the students focused and on task. This also provided consistency in the way activities were run. All I had to do with the activity templates was write in the content I wanted my students to use for that assignment. I could provide four choices of activities for my students that could be ready in less than five minutes! Each one of the templates also included a rubric specific for that assignment but with an equal grading system as all of the other activity templates.

I was pretty proud of what I had created and since they took less than five minutes to include in a lesson plan, I saved a lot of time during planning. My brain wouldn’t shut off though. What about the other sections of a lesson plan? Was there a better way to do those too? Could I create a system for that as well?

After much deliberation I realized that there was a way to differentiated instruction for vocabulary that could be done with templates too. I created a template with three sections; one for the vocabulary word on the left, in the middle was the area for the definition, and on the right side students could choose from drawing a picture to represent the vocabulary word or write a sentence to show understanding. This choice brought in the Multiple Intelligence Theory and student choice.  From there I decided to level it. The enriched level allowed students to write the definition in their own words to provide a bit of critical thinking. The average level allowed students to fill in the blanks of the definition. The basic level provided the full definition. I chose this option for the lower level because I realized that many of them were having trouble just decoding the definitions even in simplified form. This allowed them the time to read and comprehend it and then use it in their choice box on the right.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to systemize the creation of PowerPoints, note sheets and primary sources quickly. However, I have created many for American History for you to download. Most of my PowerPoints have two levels of them; enriched and basic. For each PowerPoint, there are two levels of notes; enriched and basic. The enriched notes allow for more critical thinking and the basic notes allow students to fill in the blanks as they go through the PowerPoint in class. There are many differentiated instruction primary sources available in my social studies differentiated instruction lesson plans as well to help you bring in the common core standards too. You can access my plans at

To learn more about differentiated instruction, click here.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plan

Response of labor to Industrialization differentiated instruction lesson plan for middle school social studies

The Response of Labor to Industrialization Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plan and Revised PowerPoint is now available at! I specialize in middle school social studies differentiated instruction. This lesson plan focuses on the NYS 8th grade social studies curriculum and standards.

Social Studies Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plan

The following are the essential questions used in the Response of Labor to Industrialization differentiated instruction lesson plan:

  • Who entered the workforce and what kind of work did they do?
  • How did the roles of workers change?
  • What are unions and how did they work for improvements in the work place?
  • What were the results that the unions achieved?

This differentiated instruction lesson plans starts off with the essential vocabulary as the anticipatory set and includes the following vocabulary words: industrialization, anarchist, labor union, strike, boycotts, closed shop, and yellow-dog contract.  There are three different ability levels of vocabulary sheets. The enriched version allows for more critical thinking by making the students write the definition in their own words. The average version has students filling in the blanks of the definitions. The basic version has the complete definition to allow them to read the definition and then work on step two, which is on all of the versions; write a sentence or draw a picture to show understanding of the vocabulary word.

differentiated instruction vocabulary

There are two different ability levels of the PowerPoint to differentiate instruction; enriched and basic. There is an enriched note sheet that can be used with both PowerPoints. There is also a basic note sheet for each of the PowerPoints. Below are the notes that are in “The Response of Labor to Industrialization” PowerPoint. (Only headings are shown in the preview below.) The different ability leveled note sheets allow some to do more critical thinking and others to focus on the content and then review with a partner after each slide is presented.This provides repetition for students who need it. Choose the level that will work the best for your students or if you have a co-teacher you can parallel teach and use both of them.


The Response of Labor to Industrialization

  • Industrialization Created a Larger Workforce and Complex Work
  • Working Conditions Changed and Placed Hardships on the Workers (3 slides)
  • Roots of Modern Labor Unionism (6 slides)
  • Labor as a Reform Movement in Other Aspects of Society

Social Studies Differentiated Instruction

social studies differentiated instruction

social studies differentiated instruction

social studies differentiated instruction

social studies differentiated instruciton

(Above) Basic Note Sheets

social studies differentiated instruction

(Above) Enriched Note Sheets

The activity allows students to choose how they work; individual, partners or groups of four. Make sure that all students work in mixed ability levels unless they are working individually. If you allow lower level students to work individually, you will need to guide them more.The students will create 3 metaphors based on the notes that were provided. These metaphors will summarize the content. Each group should have their own activity sheet to work from. There is a rubric to help you grade. This activity does not use differentiated instruction.

factors of production activity

For the concluding set students will answer the essential questions during a class discussion or have your students write the answers as a ticket out the door.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


How to bring in the Common Core to Social Studies Classrooms

Don’t freak out, the common core are here to stay. If you have ever used a primary source document in your classroom, you were doing what is now written in the common core. New York State teachers have been using primary source documents in as early as fifth grade for many years now because on the fifth grade state social studies exam, it was expected that students be able to interpret primary source documents and write an essay including the information in them. This is all common core; reading for information, interpretation, and expository writing.

If you teach your students how to read the expository writing in their textbook then you are following the common core. You can use different techniques to do this such as annotating using post-it notes or having them write it in their own words on a separate sheet of paper. What is important to extend to your students is that reading for information is different than reading for enjoyment. When reading for information, it is important for them to stop and think about what they read after each paragraph before they go onto the next. If they don’t remember what they have read, they need to reread the paragraph until they do. Expecting them to write the information in each paragraph or at least each section in their own words will help reiterate this technique. includes the common core by implementing primary sources into their lesson plans. Beyond that, they are leveled for differentiated instruction. I highly recommend my store for anyone who teaches middle school American History.

Written by,
Kasha Mastrodomenico