How they teach. Providing an Environment Conducive to Learning At its most basic level, differentiating instruction means "shaking up" what goes on in the classroom so that students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn. In other words, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, processing or making sense of ideas, and developing products.
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Tomlinson, , p. According to Tomlinson , "the teacher is the inevitable leader in any effective classroom One of the most important responsibilities of a teacher is to organize and provide an environment in which all students are encouraged to engage in building their knowledge and skills. The goal in a differentiated classroom is to create a learning environment which encourages students to utilize their talents and abilities.
Students should feel comfortable and safe in participation, risk taking, and expressing their thoughts. The environment in a differentiated classroom does this because it: is student-centered. Student initiative is tolerated and encouraged. Nonacademic and interdisciplinary connections are made because new people, materials, and ideas are welcomed.
Acceptance of others' ideas and opinions is encouraged. There are a variety of resources, media, ideas, methods and tasks incorporated. There is movement in and out of groups, and the use of different desk settings, classrooms, and schools is encouraged. Tomlinson, A diverse classroom often features students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, and students for whom English is a second language. In such classrooms, the teacher is frequently accompanied by other educational professionals.
Differentiating Instruction for the 21st Century
It is not unusual to find two or even three professionals working within the classroom. This type of classroom setting may be referred to as an inclusive setting, where students with diverse learning needs receive academic instruction within the general education classroom.
In addition to the general education teacher, you might find a special educator, a resource teacher for the English learner or the resource teacher for the gifted and talented. Additional professionals that might work with you include a speech pathologist, an occupational or physical therapist, a vision or hearing specialist, or an instructional assistant paraprofessional. When more than one educator is working with a classroom it is essential that the educators collaborate and work together to meet the needs of all students.
However for many of you this may be a new and possibly frightening concept.
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Your role may shift while working in a collaborative setting and it is important to develop the necessary skills for working in this type of environment. Or, you may not have access to other professionals who visit your classroom to help you differentiate instruction for your students. In this case, you will want to check with your school or district to see what resources and experts are available to help you with the challenge of differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all your students.
Student Characteristics Acknowledging that students learn at different speeds and that they differ widely in their ability to think abstractly or understand complex ideas is like acknowledging that students at any given age aren't all the same height: it is not a statement of worth, but of reality. Tomlinson, Part of fostering a differentiated classroom involves taking note of your students' unique student characteristics with respect to readiness, interests, and learning preferences.
Being aware of these characteristics and how they affect and influence student learning will assist you in planning for the individual learning needs of your students. Research has shown that we tend to learn best when the task is slightly more difficult.
If tasks are too easy, then students may become bored and disinterested. If tasks are too difficult, the student may become frustrated. Interest is a major motivating factor in learning. Teachers can expect students of different genders or cultures and abilities to have varied interests. One important thing to remember, though, is to avoid stereotypical beliefs about students' interests. For example, not all boys love sports, just as not all girls enjoy talking about clothes and shopping. Summary of Six Instructional Phases.
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Teaching in the 21stCentury Digital World. Todays Digital World. Instructional Technology for PBL. Presentation Software. Simulations and Games for PBL. ARGs in the Classroom.
Khan Academy. Twitter and Ning in the Classroom. Time Line Planning. Podcast Development. Teaching Cooperative Learning Skills. Advantages of Cooperative Learning. Preplanned Activities or Teaching on the Fly? Various Types of Rubrics. Developing Rubrics. Reflective Peer Evaluations. Portfolio Assessment. Grading PBL Work. Once you embrace the bad and ugly, you will inevitably find that there is a lot more of the good!
Get professional development on blended learning, differentiation, and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning to help incorporate them into your curriculum process! Kelly has been a teacher for 9 years, and has spent 8 of them spent teaching middle school.
She teaches in a blended learning classroom, where both 5th-6th are taught at the same time, as well as 7th and 8th. This has caused her to devote much of her time on experimenting with different methods of differentiation and student-centered classrooms. Her school is also piloting standards-referenced grading, causing her grade book to look quite different this year! Her husband, Elijah , is also involved in education. Together they have a 1 year old daughter, Paige, and a rescue dog named Dani.
What is Blended Learning? The Good: Differentiation and Student-Centered Learning Teaching and Learning In my experience, there are two key ideas to creating a successful blended learning classroom: differentiation and student-centered teaching and learning. Differentiation Now, most likely every teacher has some form of differentiation in his or her classroom.
Here is a quick breakdown of the five main ways I differentiate in my th and th grade ELA courses: Learning centers: In learning centers, the students are rotating through different learning stations, each with a different activity. This is an easy way to differentiate assignments based on ability, interest, content, etc. It also allows the teacher to provide more or less hands-on guidance in small groups.
Flexible grouping: This relates to learning centers. You can use many factors to create your groups: observation, standardized testing data, age and student interest. Ideally, there are at least two options per meal, giving students choice in who they want to focus their research on for projects.
Related The 21 st Century Classroom: Differentiating Instruction Using the Web
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