Different Emphasis If you’ve done this week’s reading, you will notice that this lecture has a different title from the chapter The chapter title is ‘Differentiated Learners’, and the chapter focuses on teachers teaching for a subset of students, which it calls ‘diverse’ or ‘differentiated’ learners But we are all diverse! ‘Diverse’ means ‘different’, and none of us are the same as each other I resist the notion that ‘we’re normal, they’re diverse’
Difference, not deficit While student differences can pose challenges to a teacher, recognising that all students are diverse, not just a subset, changes the perspective As far as possible, student differences should ideally be seen as a set of resources on which the teacher and the other students can draw in constructing learning together In this process, different students will contribute more at different times
Recognition and Distribution You’ll remember the tension Nancy Fraser describes, between recognition and distribution, from last week’s lecture Treating all students as diverse, and their differences as resources, does not mean denying those differences, identities or challenges It does not mean ‘treating all students as though they were the same’ It does mean finding ways to enhance opportunity
Thinking about differences Spend a few moments individually listing as many differences between students as you can think of (there will be chocolate for the longest list!) Now compare your list with the person next to you, Boggle-style, and add any they have that you missed and vice versa Select three particular forms of difference, and with your partner think of ways to use that difference as a resource in teaching the whole class
Students with Disabilities (better language than ‘disabled students’) Some students’ differences will be specific disabilities that are named and identified: the reading outlines some of these Other differences will also make learning more challenging, but not be identified or supported in the same ways Developing specific learning programs and strategies, in collaboration with support services, is part of teaching
Differentiated Instruction This is a strong interest of Education Queensland and was part of the recent state-wide Teaching and Learning audit of all state schools Differentiation of instruction – different learning activities for learners with different needs – was in many cases the weakest dimension on this audit, so the issue is receiving a lot of attention It is sometimes understood to mean ‘streaming’ of classes by ability, but the research evidence shows this is seldom effective
Differentiated Instruction Differentiating instruction can be difficult to manage as a teacher: there are likely not to just be 2 or even 3 groups but many on some dimensions At the same time it’s an impossible demand on a teacher to individualise teaching for all students, all the time It’s also not a fair outcome to require the most able students to spend all their time helping their less able fellow students – although it’s valuable for both sometimes
The Classroom as a LearningCommunity There is no easy approach to differentiating instruction One possible approach is moving away from a model in which the teacher is the centre and provider of all learning experiences toward a model of the classroom as a learning community in which each person bears some responsibility for his/her own learning and the learning of her/his classmates A learning community enhances learner autonomy and is in line with MYS principles and values
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.