My first student was investigating the life cycle of butterflies. She was a very strong reader with an ability decode advanced text and distinguish important information. In previous projects that were similar, she had a tendency to want to complete work quickly without giving herself an extra challenge. I chose five links for her with butterfly images to click on that would give her an opportunity to find the information she needed, while also applying her reading skills and strategies, with the main focus being decoding the pronunciation and meaning of sophisticated vocabulary, extracting important details, and synthesizing the information for her own project and writing.
The second student was inquiring into the life cycle of trees. Throughout the unit of inquiry, he had a difficult time grasping the concept of cyclical time and patterns. He was a very visual learner who benefited from images and pictorial evidence. He was challenged by the reading process, and since this was not a time to put these skills to the test, I chose three links for him that showed basic visuals of tree life cycles. This gave him the opportunity to review and consolidate the concept of cyclical time and compare and contrast the images he was provided (a reading and research skill that he had personally been working on).
The third student was investigating the life cycle of frogs. He enjoyed making and watching videos and was able to best synthesize and express his learning in this format. I linked him to seven videos which included different information about the frog life cycle. For him, the challenge was to combine the information he gathered from the clips and compare it to his previous sketches and theories, resulting in new and advanced understandings about the frog life cycle.
I would like to have prepared these Symbaloo links for all students, but it was not necessary. The important thing for me to remember about differentiation, is that it doesn't need to mean an individual process and approach for every single student at every single moment in time. Quite simply, it is not possible to do this. By reflecting on my students needs and the desired learning outcomes though, I was able to select three students for which to differentiate in this way, maximizing my time with all students, as well as their time and engagement level with their projects and feelings of personal success.