Differentiation for the School Librarian

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Differentiating instruction is defined as “shaking up” what goes on in the classroom so that students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn” according to Carol Ann Tomlinson. This can be achieved through a process called Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The UDL process emphasizes representation (offering information in more than one format, action and expression), offering students more than one way to interact with material and show what they know, and engagement (using different ways to motivate students). How does that look in the school library?

Utilizing Universal Design for Learning in the school library is one tool that School Librarians should have in their toolbox. There are many resources available to easily implement this strategy, like the UDL checklist, the UDL Toolkit, and various articles tailored specifically to school librarians. In addition, there are many technology tools that help make implementing UDL an easy reality for teachers and librarians alike. Take a look at The Differentiator (a tool used to assist in differentiated lesson plan writing) to help you easily put all of your UDL differentiation planning into words.

Differentiation in the school library builds upon UDL in the implementation stage. School librarians are able to differentiate by doing many of the things that they already do. School librarians can use playlists to differentiate content in lessons, professional development sessions, and when offering resources for various topics. Curation of varied resources for teachers and students to be used for inquiry, content creation, and their own curation is a powerful school librarian tool. In planning for library orientations, plan different orientations based upon the specific class and grade level attending. Use a variety of centers to differentiate lessons for classes taking place in the library. Book clubs can also be a great way to implement differentiation in a school library.

Differentiation in the school library is an excellent way to connect students with your library and collaborate with teachers! As always, TeachersFirst offers many resources for differentiation through Ok2Ask professional development offerings, classroom tools for school librarians, and informative blog posts like this one about differentiation in remote and blended learning. Happy differentiating!


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