I’m here to sare some ideas to help you differentiate when teaching area. Each year, I find that many of my students struggle to grasp the concept of area. Even though it is a standard that should be mastered in lower grades, most of my students still don’t have a proficient understanding of this concept.
I have found that the best way to help students learn is to differentiate my instruction to meet their needs. In addition to this differentiation, since this can be such a difficult concept, I use fun, hands-on activities to engage them with their learning.
To begin with, I provide students with a pre-assessment to figure out what they know and what they don’t know before beginning instruction. You can check out these pre-assessments HERE.
Then, once students have taken their pre-assessments, I score them, and I group students. I group students based on three differentiated learning goals that I created. This page I use to group students is from my Teacher Data Tracking and Grade Book resource found HERE.
The learning goals that I created are leveled and based on the progression of standards. Area can be differentiated into three different tasks below:
These levels are highlighted and made easy for teachers in my Differentiated Area No Prep Activities and Exit Tickets found HERE. The page below is from this resource.
Then, once students are grouped, you can start teaching area to each student at their level. It’s so important to differentiate instruction for a number of reasons. As teachers, we know that the one-size fits all attempt of teaching won’t work. The one-standard approach (versus the differentiated progression of standards) will not meet the needs of all, or even most, students. When teachers don’t differentiate to meet the individual needs of each student, the concepts are bound to bore some and confuse or frustrate others. Differentiation is the key to reaching all students.
We started our small group lessons by breaking down the learning goal and definition of area. We also discussed important vocabulary terms and the shapes involved.
We then worked together to create an anchor chart of all the information we had on the specific learning goal. Students will use this anchor chart throughout the group meetings and while working individually as a reference, if needed.
Later, I created a student version of this anchor chart as a reference for students when they are working on their own, at home, or just need additional support. You can see below there are three different anchor charts that are aligned to the three different learning goals so students can use their individual printable anchor chart.
Click HERE to grab these free printable anchor charts.
After discussing important vocabulary and showing our learning on the anchor charts, I gave students time to practice some basic practice problems. I had some students use paper and pencil, and others show me quick examples on individual white boards.
Once I felt that students were mastering their area learning goal, I brought out some fun, hands-on, no-prep activities to make their learning fun.
When you provide students the opportunity to Color by Number, Pop That Bubble!, find the area of their name, and create their own amusement park, suddenly the concepts come alive. It’s a lot different than simple paper and pencil practice. Who knew teaching area could be so fun?
You can see some examples of my student’s work below:
We spent a few days practicing with these fun activities. The great part about these activities is that because they are already differentiated, students can all be working on the same activity, but at their level. They never feel different in their small groups because the fun activities all look the same. You can grab these fun area activities HERE.
After a few days of practicing with these fun activities, I wanted to do a quick check to see how my students were progressing with their learning goals. I gave each student their own differentiated exit ticket based on their learning goal to gauge their learning and understanding. In addition to completing the exit ticket, I had them rate their level of understanding so I could see where they rated their understanding.
These exit tickets are also included in my Differentiated Area No Prep Activities and Exit Tickets which you can find HERE or by clicking the button below.