How to Differentiate when Teaching Reading with an Anthology

Student reading a book
Let's talk about how to differentiate when teaching reading with an anthology! Many, many teachers are required to use a reading anthology as a base for their ELA instruction, or at least their reading, and grammar instruction. A few years ago in second grade, I was using Journeys for teaching reading skills, spelling words and patterns and grammar.  Yes, technically, the program, and all others such as Wonders and Reading Street, come with options for differentiation. However, I found the differentiation suggested never quite met my students need. Some ideas were too easy, and the main workbook pages, suggested activities and writing assignments were just too hard for at least a third to a half of my class.

I worked hard on searching for ideas to do some of my own differentiation and visited teacher blogs, attended conferences and trainings and read a lot. I wanted to share some suggestions with my fellow teachers. Then I will share some resources I made for my own class so the reading anthology and what I created could coexist and meet everyone's needs!


The Content

This is where you differentiate what the students learn. Often this can be focused on student interest. For example, if you read a the  non-fiction text in Journeys called "Animals Building Homes," (about animals like bees and beavers that build their own habitats) students could select which animal they want to write about for a written response.

The Process

For process, you differentiate the activities used to assist students with the learning of skills and concepts. For example, in my small reading groups, I would perhaps have ELL students build more background knowledge about a topic by looking at objects mentioned in the text (or photos of them) whereas another reading group would not need to spend as much time on building background.

The Products

This might be the easiest starting place for many educators. For example, if most students were expected to practice 10 spelling words with rainbow writing, a struggling student could focus on 5 with a specific spelling pattern. In writing, a student who is looking for enrichment could be expected to add more details to their writing and have a topic sentence and closing sentences earlier in the year than other students.

A Tip for Your Sanity

Don't try and differentiate everything for everyone immediately! You will lose your mind. Seriously! Take it one subject area or topic at a time. Someone once suggested to me when I was a brand new teacher to start with one math lesson a week, and then the next week do two and so on.

I Made my own Differentiated Resources! 

I decided to make a comprehensive (like seriously, usually around 100 pages) resource of grammar, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary activities for each (30) text in the 2nd grade Journeys program to help me solve a lot of my challenges and meet my students' needs.

So I will share some images from these resources which are over on Teachers Pay Teachers,  but you can also see how things like spelling words, comprehension responses, etc. are differentiated in this sneak peek video of the Henry and Mudge resource (week 1) .

Let's check out two different ways you can share the Read and Response Comprehension questions with students. The option of the left is a standard printable (or you can use TPT's Digital tool to use the PDF digitally). the option on the right is great for interactive notebooks, if you want to mix things up, or you want to sneak in some fine motor practice with cut and glue.

Read and respond page with linesRead and respond page for interactive notebook
For other comprehension activities, I added in some differentiation by presenting similar activities in different formats, such as these story summary pages. Also, some activities have lines, and some do not so you could choose which is appropriate for certain students. A flip book for interactive notebooks is also included, as as well as alternative wording for story summaries such as first, next and last.
Story summaryStory summaryStory summaryStory summary
With spelling, there are color and black and white cards (for your printing needs), with the basic Journeys spelling list. It also includes blank cards so you can add other differentiated word lists. 

Spelling cardsSpelling cards
There are also grammar practice pages, no prep and some are presented at different levels of difficulties too!  Here on the left students simply identify the subject and predicate but on the right students write their own centers and identify the sentence parts.
Grammar review 2 pages
Will this solve a lot of your challenges? Yes - time, hard work and more!  It made my life much easier once I started using them with my second graders. And the other 29 resources are very similar with quantity and types of resources. BUT they also are bundled! If you look at the unit bundles like this one:
Cover of Journeys weeks 1-5 bundle
And the full year bundle is at a huge discount!
cover yearlong Journeys bundle

So, keep in mind that when you differentiate academics, don't try and do it all at once! And think about how you can differentiate with content, process, and the product.

 If you have more ideas on how to differentiate when teaching reading with an anthology like Journeys and Wonders, let me know! 
Student reading books

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