MentorMob as a tool for Differentiation

I have been using mentormob for months now and it only just dawned on me recently to use it as a mechanism for differentiating instruction. I am a special education teacher so differentiation is always my top priority when planning out lessons. I left the classroom in September and amongst other things I have found myself tutoring a group of students in various grade levels.

Last week, I was meeting with a student and we were brainstorming some ways to take her reading to the next level. She gave me a list of non-fiction topics that she would LOVE to study including: shark attacks, vegetarianism and natural disasters. Eclectic mix, I know! I began researching websites and articles that would be appropriate for her. Suddenly, it hit me…mentormob! I began creating an individualized playlist for my tutee including a range of articles and websites. What I love most about the playlist is that I could rate each of the sources as beginner, intermediate or advanced! This supports my student in knowing which sources to attack independently and which ones might be better suited for reading together.

Right after I finished creating my first tutee playlist, I thought about another student I work with. She is extremely artistic and I wanted to use her love of the arts to engage her in writing. After discussing possible writing exercises, we decided to do an independent research project on cupcake design. Cupcake design may sound silly but you can really turn anything into a research project and believe me, the more ownership a student has over a topic they study, the more invested they are in their learning. I immediately began scouring every website possible to create a meaningful collection of cupcake design resources and curated them in a mentormob playlist. I compiled resources about famous pastry chefs, cupcake design tools, National Cupcake Day (yes, it’s true), cupcake classes and more.

Once I had created these individualized playlists, I knew it was time to share so I emailed each playlist to the parent of the child it was developed for. The parents were so excited not only about how engaging the playlists were, but also that I had taken the time to create a collection of materials that was so specific to their child. The secret that I didn’t share is that it took me under fifteen minutes to pull together each playlist. I used the chrome button to curate my playlists which made it so simple and quick.

Having spent years in the classroom, I seriously value efficiency. Differentiation takes a lot of time but creating individualized playlists can make you a differentiation artist in minutes. I am looking forward to creating playlists for more students and I hope you will too.

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  • Charles Perry (@CharlesUpTop) May 7, 2012 - 12:12pm

    Enlightening post, Marisa! This is a very specific, real world example of how fitting the curriculum to the student (rather than the other way around) takes time, but not gobs of time. And sounds like it’s super engaging for the students!


    • Marisa Kaplan May 7, 2012 - 12:33pm

      Thanks Charles! I’m most excited because while it is super engaging for students, the parents are intrigued and now they’re learning right alongside their children. What a super cool tool for promoting parent engagement in the home:)


  • Emma Savino May 8, 2012 - 8:40am

    Great idea, Marisa! This tool seems like something that can also be used in a larger classroom since it is so efficient. The psychologist in me also thinks this would be a great way to target resources for specific social and coping skills! The color and presentation of the playlists are also catchy, making people want to see more! This also organizes information for children/teachers/parents so they do not become overwhelmed. Love it.


    • Marisa Kaplan May 8, 2012 - 8:57am

      So glad you like! I love the idea of creating playlists to target specific social skills! You’ve gotta make a playlist for that and send it my way:)


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