A reader wrote in to ask how to differentiate a lesson about reading analog clocks. What happens if a student has already mastered the task?
This is a perfect example of a topic that doesn’t really have a “higher-level” version. Sure you could give more worksheets or harder times to read, but neither of those inspire or elevate thinking.
But what if we just ask ourslves: what’s interesting about clocks? What if we just use “interesting” as an entry point for designing an engaging learning activity?
An Interesting Topic
To me, two things jump out as very interesting about clocks:
- The mechanism that moves the hands.
- The really weird time units of 24 and 60.
- Water clocks
- Candle clocks
- and dozens more
Pick a topic for the student or allow her to choose for herself.
Create A Question
Now, build a question around the topic.
- How do clocks’ gears work?
- Why do we divide days into 24 hours, hours into 60 minutes, and minutes into 60 seconds?
Structure either one as a full differentiated objective with an intriguing final product (use The Differentiator if you’d like):
> I will investigate the origins of units of time using [whatever resources you want] and create a presentation [or an essay, or a comic strip, or a skit].
Now, while you continue to work with struggling students, this gal is exploring an intriguing topic that might take her to Ancient Babylon and introduce her to a non base-10 number system!
Next time you’re stuck on how to take a task to the next level, consider what is the most interesting part of the topic.
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