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Differentiation – Pilates & Writing Series: Part 2 of 5

If you do a Google image search for a “Teaser Pilates,” hundreds of photos will come back to you.  Many of the photos are of a person sitting on a Pilates mat with their arms and legs reaching diagonally into the air.  Some of the photos are of a person sitting on a piece of Pilates equipment, such as a barrel, chair, or reformer, with their arms and legs pointed towards the sky.  Look closer and you’ll find that some of the photos have people holding on to a Pilates ring or another item to help them settle into the “teaser.”  All of images show someone doing a “teaser,” but many of the images look so different.  Can they all of the people be doing a “teaser?”  The answer is yes.

Doing a "teaser" on the Cadillac.

When I take Reformer class, I do “teaser” on the long box.  I never seem to be able to get my arms and legs to exactly the right angle.  Therefore, I prefer to do “teaser” on a piece of equipment called the Cadillac, which allows me to get some assistance using an overhead bar (pictured).  Using a push-through bar allows me to keep my arms at at comfortable position while giving me enough support to help me balance in order to keep my legs in the air.   While this could be viewed as a modification, it’s really just another way to do “teaser.”  Since  a “teaser” is very difficult, the way it looks can vary from person to person.  However, the thing that all “teasers” have in common is the angle of the arms and legs and the requirement of balance on a small part of your body.

A few weeks ago, when I was doing a “teaser,” the idea for this “Pilates & Writing” Series came to mind.  I started thinking about a well-formed “teaser” like a piece of published writing.  We want students to publish their writing during a given unit of study.  However, all of them have to take different routes to get to the point at which they’re ready to publish their final piece.  While they will all have received the same instruction (minilessons), they will have all sat through different strategy lessons; all of them will have conferred with you, one-on-one, several times.  Hence, the entire unit of study is about differentiating instruction so all students will be able to achieve the goal of publishing a piece of writing of which they’re proud, but that reflects the unique experience and journey they’ve taken to get to that point.

Writing workshop is ALL about differentiation.  My example of a published piece of writing being like a completed “teaser” is one of many examples of differentiation.  There are so more.  I chose this one as a way to highlight the importance of differentiation.

How do you differentiate your instruction during writing workshop?  Why is differentiation important to your students’ success?  Please share by leaving a comment.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

4 thoughts on “Differentiation – Pilates & Writing Series: Part 2 of 5 Leave a comment

  1. One thing that I have done in my workshops is write notes to students ahead in order to save time in conferring. I also have staggered their conferences with me during the week, and kept peer groups of about three going often. These three things did help with the time crunch. I am writing of 6th-8th graders, so the notes may not work with very younger students.


  2. One of the ways I can think of that I differentiate during writing workshop is after a mini-lesson. If I teach a mini-lesson on adding thoughts and feelings (Atwell) to a personal narrative, then I ask students to revise at various levels. They may be asked to find 3 spots where they can add thoughts or feelings and add them, or they may simply be asked to find 3 spots where they have already included thoughts or feelings. This way, all students are becoming more cognizant of the skill through application and/or identification. The visual image of your support while doing a “teaser” connects well with this idea of ‘leveling’ the manner in which students are asked to try out a skill.


  3. I believe that allowing student to write from wherever they are is the place to start the differentiation during writing workshop. If we aren’t prescriptive in what they are writing this allows for each student to enter their writing in the exact right place for them. Our job is to provide lots of different strategies and opportunities to write. We then need to nudge each student along their own personal path of growth. I find writing workshop one of the easier areas to differentiate. Perhaps I am missing something!


    • Mrs. L.:
      Writing workshop is one of the easier areas to differentiate. Unfortunately, many teachers aren’t differentiating because they don’t have time. Conferring in a meaningful way takes time and many teachers I talk to are strapped for time. Test prep is nudging out writing workshop which means writing workshop gets cut short. It’s a vicious cycle. I could go on about this, but I’ll spare you.
      That being said, keep doing what you’re doing! Your students are lucky to have a teacher who makes the writing process accessible for each and every one of them.


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