From Differentiation to Individualization

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.001

Driving Objective

When education works to reach each individual learner, it creates opportunities to recognize and apply strengths, interests, and values while applying voice and choice to the everyday education of all learners.

What would it do to a school if we recognized and applied the strengths, interests, and values of each learner as individuals? How would this empower our learners and give them a deeper purpose in learning? 


Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.004Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.008

Each learner is an individual who is developing their own strengths, interests, and values and whose voice and choice should be recognized in their everyday learning and everyday assignments. When we empower learners by connecting their passions to academics, they are more likely to put an increased effort into their work which will make the learning more purposeful.

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.009Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.010Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.011

Starting by developing an understanding of the strengths, interests, and values within each learning then moving on to recognizing these qualities in each individual learner can empower learners and create a more effective learning experience.

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.014

Recognizing strengths, interests, and values, can begin with the Thrively Strengths Assessment. How powerful would it be if we used those strengths along with what we notice about each individual student and applied it to their academics? For example, if a student is interested in makeup, have them volunteer for theater and help with the play. If a student is struggling to demonstrate compassion, pair them up with a student who had this strength and give them support as they learn from each other.


Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.018

When our lessons are more individualized and allow for voice and choice, they are:

  • More relevant to challenges that are being faced today
  • More meaningful and applicable to tasks that are immediate
  • More reasons to create quality work now
  • More purposeful, which will help increase retention of learning

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.019Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.020

The 4 Cs – Communication, collaboration, creativity & innovation, and thinking critically – according to P21 are skills that are essential to helping our students develop because they are necessary for tackling  tasks and largert challenges. We can provide opportunities to develop these skills by connecting learners to global audiences, allowing students to create projects based on learning, and starting conversations about the world of work

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.021


Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.026Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.027Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.028Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.029Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.030

Together, we can develop a growth mindset with our learners so that when challenges arise, we have a community of school support and resources at hand that will help us work through those challenges together – creatively and collaboratively while using communication skills and critical thinking.

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.032

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.033

Developing a growth mindset to help students continue developing their strengths and recognizing the strengths in others is one way that we can create meaningful groups and help individualize our lessons so that each student sees the purpose and value in their learning. 

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.034Encourage the conversation about voice and choice to start so that everyone is aware of why individuality in learning is important. This can begin with both understanding and applying students’ strengths, interests, and values. This does not mean that each student should have a separate assignment. Instead, it means that the students should have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a way that is best for them – a blog, an iMovie, an interview, a digital media presentation, etc. Talking to our learners and understanding more about how they would like to demonstrate their learning can make them feel more empowered than if they are given an assignment that is created by the teacher for the teacher. We can remove limitations on learning by making sure that we give options that will best apply to each individual learner.

For more research and information on this, download our Hypedoc (a document with links embedded in the text) from participate:

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.038
This document has links to all of the research presented in this article:



What would happen if we provided our students with the opportunity to develop empathy through global connections while recognizing their need to communicate academic learning with various audiences? Recently, in Elizabeth Aderholdt’s fourth grade class, she has been doing just that! With the free program,, the fourth graders in this class were connected with other classrooms from across the globe.

The mission for Empatico is best explained by their Founder, who also happens to be the Founder & CEO of KIND Snacks:

We want kids to adopt a sense of responsibility to other human beings. This should not only help them understand how to prevent conflict, and how to develop critical listening skills that will come handy in their own lives, but also to positively cement the areas of their own identity that they can be proud of. It should also help a new generation of leaders recognize our shared responsibility to solve society’s biggest challenges.

Daniel Lubetzky – CEO & Founder at KIND


Supporting students in becoming global learners by giving them opportunities to video chat with other classrooms from across the globe. Conversation is centered around grade level academics.

This global connection is relevant to our vision at Feaster Charter because we also work to prepare our learners for a multi-cultural society. This is one tool that we can use to keep our students connected globally instead of simply locally.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 7.20.20 PM
Screen shot from explaining the process for connecting with other classrooms

The Connection

Once a teacher has logged in, chosen a lesson and available times, they are connected with another educator. Together, they plan out the questions and logistics behind the video chat. Right before the video chat, both teachers log onto their Empatico accounts and the video connection begins right from the Empatico website!

During this chat, I instantly saw the students light up because they were given a different audience to connect with. To them, their learning had a purpose beyond gaining knowledge for an assignment or assessment. Together, both classes recognized that they had the opportunity to demonstrate their learning and gain a different perspective.

The video connection also allows time for a Q&A session. This is where I saw the students really come to life and demonstrate their social intelligence. Through this interaction, I saw how meaningful this connection is to the development of communication and leadership skills. Students on both ends are given the opportunity to ask relevant questions and hear others’ responses which allows them to contribute to the academic growth of others, build and potentially maintain a relationship, and foster leadership skills as they facilitate a group discussion.


The Purpose

The Empatico connections give the opportunity for students to explore learning beyond their own classroom and even beyond their own cities.

  • Collaboration: students are collaborating within their classrooms and with their partner class throughout the lesson by exploring standards and academic concepts as they facilitate conversations.
  • Communication: learners are given a different audience to communicate with so that they can share their thoughts and hear the thoughts of others. This helps them recognize other perspectives and communicate their own perspectives with audiences who may not have as much in common with them as their school peers.
  • Critical Thinking: during the Q&A portion, students are given the opportunity to think beyond what they have researched during their lesson. This, often times, requires them to think from another perspective other than their own, which helps develop empathy.
  • Creativity: throughout the process, students are “open and responsive to the perspectives of others” (P21 Framework)

All of these skills are relevant to the academic standards and applied throughout the learning connection.


The Benefits

  • Global Connections: students learn about others and participate in meaningful interactions.
  • Social Emotional Learning: in elementary school, students can learn how to develop positive perceptions of others and be well informed about their own identities and the identities of others.
  • Perspective: students have their own perspectives and, now, they can work to recognize the perspectives of others who may have a different life experience partly because of their geographical locations.
  • Academics: lessons and activities are planned out and teachers can collaborate together to make them best supportive and effective for their learning environments.
  • Teacher Professional Learning Network (PLN): connecting with other educators from around the world can help us reflect on and develop new best practices.
  • Audience: students are now learning to share and collaborate globally with others who are also participating in a shared learning experience. Emaptico provides the lesson, connection, and platform for our learners to share their thoughts globally while hearing the thoughts of others living elsewhere.



After the video connection, in Ms. Aderholdt’s class, students were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and take aways during a brief trust circle. They reflected on the academic concepts they now know because of this lesson and they reflected on the thoughts and ideas that they learned because of the conversation with their partner class. Both classes plan to continue the connection using Flipgrid to record their reflections and watch the reflections from their partner class.


Starting with third through fifth grade, this program works to develop not only empathy through global connections but also a connected learning that includes lessons based on grade level standards. Recently, it has expanded to include first through fifth grades!

STEM Week 12 Announcements


  • Shout out to Ms. Cynthia and Coach Chris for demonstrating the core value of keeping all staff and every student in mind when developing the activities for Bully Awareness Month, the lessons and activities benefit ALL students. It was very thoughtful and respectful of teachers time to have everything organize and prepared, it really makes a difference, THANK YOU 🙂
  • Shout out to Ms. Bates and Mr. Reggie for demonstrating commitment and follow through as they coach the girls basketball team! It is also great to see you out fundraising and raising money for the girls with Jamba Juice!
  • Thank you to the Social Committee for having a growth mindset and coming up with a fun new idea to motivate teachers during the fall with the Boo Baskets! As I walk around campus I see that lots of rooms have been “Booed”


  • Red Ribbon Week: Please help promote Red Ribbon Week by encouraging your students to participate in the planned Spirit Days, passing out the Red Ribbons and incorporating some discussion into your trust circles this week.
  • Apple Distinguished School: Feaster Charter has been named an Apple Distinguished School! We will have a plaque and banner presented to us at the next Coffee with the Principal and we will have an iBook featuring our programs and students available in the iTunes Store. This recognition is being received thanks to the hard work you are all doing to make sure that we are using our iPad devices in innovative and effective ways for our learners.
  • Accelerated Reader: If you are using the AR app in your classroom, some students have been experiencing issues with logging in. If that is the case, you can have the students go
    to: and add the website to their home screen. If you need help doing this, please email Heather.
  • P21 Webinar and Twitter Chat: If you are looking to grow your online Personal Learning Network (PLN), there will be a Twitter Chat using #P21Exemplar on 10/25 at 5:00pm. The Twitter Chat will focus on student voice. Feaster Charter was recognized last year as an Exemplar School for our work with STEM, VAPA, and STEAM. You are all invited to join this Twitter chat if you are interested!
  • Donors Choose/Feaster Blog: Mrs. Walker is available to help anyone who is interested in funding a project for your classroom find the resources or set up a Donors Choose. Those interested in funding flexible seating, rugs, couches, bean bag chairs, etc. can email her and she will follow up with you to set up an account!
  • Please remember to follow @FeasterCharter on Twitter and our blog at 

Week at a Glance

  • RSP/SPED Teachers After-School Duty
  • Q2 Character Strengths: Curiosity & Self-Control (School Work)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Team Up Against Drugs:

Wear a jersey!

Show grade level spirit against drugs:

1st: orange

2nd: yellow

3rd: green

4th: blue

5th: purple

6th: black

Middle: tye dye


Peace, Not Drugs:

Wear tye dye

Chase Your Dreams Not Drugs: Wear Pajamas!


PD: Committees: Committee A – 1:45- 2:25


Committee B – 2:30 – 3:10


Tech – Room 1101


Yearbook – Room 1203


Parent Involvement – Room 901


Student Motivation – Room 403


Social – Room 1403
PBC – Room 401 (B Committee)



AVID – Room 1401 (B Committee)


DI – Room 1003


Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Drugs: Twin Day!!


First Grade Field Trip:

Wild Animal Park



Looking Ahead & Other Information:

• 10/31 Halloween! Literature Parade 9:00am, Trick or Treating sponsored by PTO 3:00-4:00.