Differentiation: Because I teach a lot of enrichment, or gifted, sections in my day, differentiation is incredible important. I always begin my year by having students complete inventories that tell me about their learning style *MI, preferences for learning, I use P.I.G. (partner, independent, or group), and their modality of learning. I learned about these last two at a Gifted Education Seminar put on by the Illinois State Board of Education, and they really came in handy! I had always just used Multiple Intelligences, and this gave me more to work with, and more choices for students to make. In addition to helping me group them, it also gives me a chance to change up their activities. For example, when I did "Charles" by Shirley Jackson with my classes, I would have my Visual/Spatial students draw me a movie poster, my Logical/Mathematical students create a behavior chart, and my Intrapersonal students write a journal entry. I thought it would be incredibly time consuming, but it paid off so much and the students were incredibly successful with it and interested in what other groups were doing.
Coming next time... Technology!
Technology: Technology is important, no doubt about it (otherwise I wouldn't be getting a masters degree in it!) but it shouldn't overpower your classroom. Technology is the best tool out there right now for engagement, enrichment, and guidance because students LOVE it and it works for everyone. There a bajillion tools out there for teachers that are FREE and simple to use. You don't have to have computers in your room either for it to work. Technology allows students to connect to the material in different ways that suit their own learning styles and needs. It is a perfect tool for differentiating instruction and allows students to connect with each other, their teachers, and people all over the world that can help them learn something new.