Today’s ClassroomStudents are more diverse than ever,culturally, emotionally, economically,physically, and intellectually.The public wants educators to be heldaccountable for students’ success, no mattertheir circumstances.Our students must be prepared to compete inthe global economy, which requires anincreasing level of knowledge and skills.Mental dexterity is the new currency.We have accumulated a critical mass of newand compelling research about how the brainlearns.
Two Simple Charges of Differentiation1. Do whatever it takes tomaximize students’ learninginstead of relying on a one-size-fits-all, whole-classmethod of instruction.2. Prepare students to handleanything in their current andfuture lives that is notdifferentiated, i.e.,to becometheir own learning advocates.
Cognitive Science Structures and Tips That Help us Differentiate Read widely about how the adolescent mind works.Here are some suggestions. How the Brain Learns, David Sousa The Primal Teen, Barbara Strauch Brain Matters, Patricia Wolfe The Adolescent Brain; Reaching for Autonomy, robert Sylvester Different Brains, Different Learners, Eric Jensen
Building Background KnowledgeIn order for the brain tocommit information into long-term memory it must connectto something already there.Tap into that prior knowledgeor create it.
Priming the Brain and Structuring InformationThe initial stages of learning should provideclear structures that students can grasp anduse to create learning.When we prime students’ minds we must firsttell or show them what they will get out of theexperience. Then we tell or show studentswhat they will encounter as they move throughthe lesson.
Primacy-Recency EffectWe remember best what wefirst experience, and weremember second best what weexperience last.
Explore Similarities ad Differences, Examples and Non examples Powerful long-term memory retention happens when we create frequent and intense experiences examining the characteristics of related and unrelated terms.
HydrationDehydration causes fatigueand irritability.Push students to drink waternot Hawaiian Punch orcaffeinated drinks.Fluorescent lighting makes ustired as well. Get anincandescent lamp, open yourdoor, raise your blinds.
Emotional ContentCultivate relationships withstudents everyday.Talk less and listen more.Be specific when you givepraise.Use students’ names in everyinteraction.
Find out all you can aboutyour students, then considerthat information as you teachthem.Don’t play “gotcha” withstudents. Seek and affirmtheir successes.Teach as if you were sellingthe subject to your students.
Affirm positive risk-taking inthe classroom.Don’t punish the whole classbecause of the actions of a few.Ask students to coteach withyou.Give students leadershippositions.
Be willing to revise yourthinking about a student inlight of new evidence.Make sure students experiencereal competence in yourclassroom.
Novelty (Shake it Up)Ask students to teach thelesson with you.Incorporate students and theirculture in your lesson.Ask students to thinkdivergently.Use props in yourpresentations.
Make random statements inthe middle of your lessons.Take unusual field trips.Use simulations, small, large,frequently.Incorporate drama.Add music to the lesson.Teach backwards.
Meeting Survival NeedsOur brains will always chooseto conserve energy andmaintain dignity.If we want students to learn,we have to care about theirlives both in and out of school.
Memory IdeasElements of memories arestored in different parts of thebrain.Give students a variety of waysto engage with the topic.Make sure to spiral thecurriculum. Revisitinformation.Learning takes diligence.
Social InteractionWe must engage our studentsin substantive conversationsabout their learning.Whoever is responding tostudents in the classroom isdoing most of the learning.Make classroomconversational inquiry habitualand compelling.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to create adifferentiated classroom. As teachers we must seek a balance between our professional and personal lives or else we won’t be affective.