A deductive lesson is one that moves from a big idea towards examples. We’re going from abstract to specific. You could also say it’s “whole to part”.
Now, I’d wager that almost all lessons default to deductive thinking. We open lessons by giving kids a rule or a definition (“Here’s how we multiply” or “here is what a prefix is”). Then we show examples of that rule or definition. And eventually, students work with their own examples.
But if we want to differentiate, this default type of deductive lesson just won’t do. So here’s how you can differentiate with deductive thinking.
To Differentiate: Pick A BIG Idea (No, Bigger!)
To create a deductive lesson that’s differentiated for advanced learners, you need to pick a really abstract idea. Something that easily connects to other lessons.
- This: “Creativity begins with following rules.”
- Not This: “Fiction stories are made up.”
Do you see the difference? The first statement is BIG. Sure, you can use it to introduce “fiction”, but you can also use it to discuss painting, songwriting, or solving a math problem. The second statement is a mere definition and is restricted to one single lesson. It’s also pretty boring.
The advantage of a deductive lesson is that you can give students a statement that they would never have thought of. Use your giant, college-educated adult brain and lifetime of experience to craft a statement that will push their thinking.
Then, Prove or Disprove
So, as the teacher, you give students a big idea, generalization, or some other abstract statement. Then, students look for examples (or counter-examples) to support or refute the generalization.
Class, now that you’ve seen what I mean by “Creativity begins with following rules,” I’d like you to look for examples to prove, or disprove, this statement. You can use stories we’ve read in class or bring in ideas from outside of class too.
Now, this thinking can eventually lead to any kind of product from individual essays to a quick “whip around” where groups share their thinking out loud in one sentence.
You can see how I used this structure with a puzzling video here or US vs UK English words here.
I also wrote more about using big ideas and generalizations here.
The goal of differentiating a deductive lesson is to move kids away from merely memorizing and thinking in ways that don’t have a clear right or wrong answer. And hey, if you want to go the other way, and move students from specific examples towards abstract big ideas, that’s called inductive thinking!