How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms What? Talk about unfair! Let’s make some changes….
"How Differentiated Instruction and Formative Assessment Work at Forest Lake Elementary" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njeK8BGqJq0
What Differentiated Instruction is NOT Individualized Instruction
In the 1970s teachers believed that providing specific lessons to each child was the best method of teaching
They quickly discovered the impossibility of creating a different lesson for each child, every day of the week. Teachers were found themselves exhausted and out of ideas!
What Differentiated Instruction is NOT Chaotic
Before a teacher decides to participate in differentiated instruction, he or she MUST set the ground rules for classroom management.
Homogeneous grouping Prior to differentiated instruction students were placed in groups based on skill level and did not easily switch groups. Blue jays, Robins, Cardinals Students did not have the opportunities to work with different skill levels
What Differentiated Instruction is NOT Tailoring the same suit of clothes
It is not beneficial to “tailor” lessons to each student’s skill level.
Those in lower levels should not “skip” what they struggle with.
Those in higher levels should not be given extra work on principles that they master.
What Differentiated Instruction IS PROACTIVE
Proactive teachers observe their student’s learning style and plan their lessons accordingly
If a particular lesson does not appeal to a particular learner, a proactive teacher will adjust accordingly.
What Differentiated Instruction IS More QUALITATIVE than quantitative
A mastered skill = busy work more challenging work
Understanding the Needs of Advanced Learners It is crucial to avoid boredom and mental laziness in advanced students Constantly challenge them Caution! Advanced learners are at risk of becoming: Perfectionist Depleting their self-efficacy Lack coping skills
Understanding the needs of Struggling Learners
The Role of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom
Highest priority = organizing a class for effective activity and exploration
Teachers who differentiate instruction focus on their role as coach or mentor
Give students as much responsibility for learning as they can handle and teach them to handle a little more every step of the way
Covering information takes a back seat to making meaning out of important ideas
The Role of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom Teachers who differentiate instruction grow in their ability to:
The Role of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom Teacher as director of the orchestra The director of the orchestra helps musicians make music, but does not make the music himself The teacher as jazz musician The artistry and confidence of the jazz musician with the music, instrument, and group allow her to abandon the score for the sake of the music, the group, and the audience
The Role of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom Differentiated teaches have two things in common:
The conviction that students differ in their learning needs
A belief that classrooms in which students are active learners, decision makers and problem solvers are more natural and effective than those in which students are passive recipients of information
The Role of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom Classroom Rules of Thumb
Be clear on the key concepts and principles which give meaning and structure to the topic (chapter, unit, lesson)
Focus on key conceptsto ensure that all learners gain powerful understanding that serve as building blocks for meaning and access to other knowledge
Think of assessmentas a road map for your thinking and planning
Lessons for all students should be engaging and emphasize critical and creative thinking
Learning Environment in a Differentiated Classroom A differentiated classroom should support and be supported by an evolving community of learners
Everyone feels welcomed and contributes to everyone else feeling welcome
Classroom that contains student work and other student designed artifacts are inviting
The Equalizer: A Way to Determine Readiness Dependent to Independent
Students vary on the amount of independence they are ready for
Structured to Open-ended
Some students are ready to improvise while others still need more straight forward guidelines to follow
Slow to fast
Some students will move quickly through one part of a topic but then need to move more slowly in other areas
Differentiating Content, Process, and Product
Assigning work on the same topic at different degrees of difficulty
The students are getting the same type of information but in a way that is geared towards their individual ability.
The teacher should aim to provide work that is just a little too hard
This pushes students out of their level of comfort and allows the teacher to help them reach a new level of understanding
Planning Lessons Differentiated by Interest Enhancing motivation to learn Using familiar ideas as a way to introduce less familiar ideas Helping students to realize that there is a connection between school and their own interests
Strategies to Plan Lessons that are Differentiated by Interest “Sidebar” Studies
Students study the aspects of a topic that interest them
Example- A student might like music and decide to focus on the music of the 1950s for a history class.
Students who have similar interests form a group to do an in-depth study on one particular topic that they find most interesting
Guidelines for Interest-based Differentiation
Find a way to link a student interests with the curriculum
Teachers should make sure that students are acquiring the skills that the curriculum specifies.
Guide students to success by providing structure
Teachers should set goals and time-lines to guarantee that students are getting the most out of their learning.
Curriculum Can Be Subdivided for the Purposes of Differentiating Instruction Teacher Dependent Dimensions
Content: What we teach, what we want students to learn (input)
Process: Sense making, information is run through an individual’s filters of meaning
Product: How student’s show what they know, typically a long term assignment that demonstrates understanding and application of content (output)
Curriculum Compacting Designed to help advanced learners maximize the use of their time for learning
Student’s Name: ________________________________ Areas of Strength Documenting Mastery Alternate Activities
Strategies for Differentiating Content Using varied texts and resource materials
Build a classroom library that includes texts of various levels, magazines, brochures, internet files, videos etc.
A rich array of materials ensures that content is meaningful to learners of all levels
Computer programs can present different levels of challenge and complexity
Can contain both skills and content components
Combine a sense of shared goals with individual appropriateness and autonomy
Some students may not fully grasp newly taught material
Meet with these students to revisit these concepts to extend their understanding and skill
Differentiating Process Process refers to how a student comes to understand and assimilate facts, concepts and skills Allows students to learn based on what method is easiest for them, or alternatively, what will challenge them the most
A learning style inventory may help to identify this
Encourages students to engage using their strengths and interests
Student are intrinsically motivated as this is their chance to “own” the curriculum
Grading in a Differentiated Classroom Traditional grading system is designed to rank you within your classroom cohort Not all work has to be graded, especially if intellectual risk taking is the goal! The goal of differentiated instruction is help you develop as a learner…it can be more individualistic
*Terrific resource for implementing technology and multimedia http://www.cited.org
*Terrific resource for implementing technology and multimedia http://www.cited.org
Thank you for taking the time to learn about Differentiated Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms with me! An excellent resource on Differentiated Instruction which also served as a reference for this presentation: How to Differentiated Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms By: Carol Ann Tomlinson