Hidden Sparks, the leading nonprofit focused on providing Jewish day school teachers with the tools to support struggling students in mainstream classrooms, is participating in a groundbreaking partnership with UJA-Federation of New York to offer their first training program on “Differentiated Instruction.”

This multidimensional approach has become increasingly important in Jewish day schools in recent years, due to both increasing attention to neuro diversity and especially as a result of Covid, because of its focus on helping teachers modify their lesson plans according to the abilities and interests of their students. By providing avenues for teachers to adjust their content, students who are diverse learners become better positioned to absorb and learn the content being taught. The training program being facilitated by Hidden Sparks this summer will incorporate these lessons through experiential workshops and discussions that will empower participants to apply more flexibility to their teaching lessons. Attendees will leave the course with an enhanced toolbox of skills to help engage learners according to each one’s unique needs and interests.

The series is facilitated by Hidden Sparks Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Coach Lily Howard Scott and Hidden Sparks Differentiated Instruction Consultant Deanna Stecker,

Following the conclusion of the in-person training, participants will receive semester long training from a Hidden Sparks DI coach in small cohorts together with colleagues who teach the same subject area and age level. This combined training and coaching will help position participants to apply differentiated instruction strategies to their own classrooms at a pace and level that is comfortable for them.

Teachers in Jewish Day Schools in New York will have the opportunity to attend two-day seminars either on July 18 and 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Yeshiva Har Torah in Queens, or on August 1 and 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Chelsea Shul in Manhattan.

Those looking to register for the Differentiated Instruction course or learn more about eligibility requirements can visit www.hiddensparks.org/di.

“Education research is constantly evolving and consistently demonstrates that teachers who apply an expansive approach to their student’s varying needs and abilities will maximize their efficacy in the classroom setting,” said Hidden Sparks Executive Director Debbie Niderberg. “Over the years, Hidden Sparks trainings have provided thousands of teachers with resources to meet the needs of diverse learners, yet this combined training and coaching in differentiating their classroom takes the next step to helping teachers modify their approaches to most effectively engage each learner. In a highly interactive format participants will experience a DI classroom. Then in the semester-long virtual coaching by group, participants will work with colleagues to maximize their own learning and immediate application to each of their own classrooms.  This is a very sought-after topic - we are really looking forward to the feedback and impact from this program.”

Lily Howard Scott is a renowned curriculum developer and Hidden Sparks’ social and emotional learning (SEL) coach who has worked extensively over the past two years with many Jewish day schools as they navigated the challenges of COVID.  With over a decade of teaching experience in public and independent settings, Lily has led professional development for educators around the country on topics including cultivating emotional literacy through reading and writing instruction, normalizing vulnerability in the classroom, and helping children explore and empathize with varied perspectives.

Deanna Stecker, Hidden Sparks’ differentiated instruction consultant, has been the coordinator of Learning Support at Schechter Manhattan for the past 14 years. Deanna has extensive differentiation experience in the classroom and in guiding new and veteran teachers in differentiating instruction.