Thomas Armstrong, Multiples Intelligences guru, shares that "Giving students choices is as much a fundamental principle of good teaching as it is a specific intrapersonal teaching strategy." We absolutely agree!
In our view, differentiating instruction by interest means setting up activities that allow students to explore their own current interests and tap into new ones. Teachers who use interest centers or literature circles in their classrooms are differentiating by interest. Teachers who encourage independent study are differentiating by interest. Teachers who permit their students to research topics of personal choice are differentiating by interest.
How can you get started with Differentiating by Interest?
The first step is to pre-assess your students! There are a number of ways you can assess interest.
Think about the following:
- Set up a short survey in Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey, or at Free Online Surveys.
- Interview your students.
- Ask students to create a personal collage that depicts their interests.
- Ask students to design a personal coat of arms that depicts their interests.
- Use an existing survey such as The Student Interest Inventory designed by the Orange School District in New Jersey. Depending on their age, students may be able to tabulate and organize their class data as well as discuss it. Talk about generating interest! You would be well on your way to differentiating by interest with such a project.