EDET 637 Week 2 Essential question: How do you make decisions about your own actions for students in a differentiated classroom? What is your criteria for intervention, and/or for letting learning happen?
Before you learn about how I differentiate instruction in my classroom, you need to know how many students I have, and what my class schedule is like. I have a split kindergarten and first grade class. I have three kindergarteners (2 boys and 1 girl), and three first grade boys. I teach both levels of Reading Mastery in the morning, and then math in the afternoon. That’s the only instructional time I have with my kindergarteners (9-1:30). I then have first and second grade for PE, Yupik and science/social studies.
One of the very first things I complete, or review is my student assessments. I look at what the data gives me and if my student is placed in the right reading or math level. “Teachers who DI assess student readiness through a variety of means,” (Tomlinson, page 16). One of my first grade students, (who was a transfer for ASD), is far below proficient at his grade level. We’ve done an IEP and have made some clear goals for him, and he is also in speech once a week. This student is at a kindergarten reading and math level, so he is placed with my kindergarteners much of his school day. I also teach two different lessons in my first grade Reading Mastery. One’s fluency is far above his reading level, and the other’s is average. I teach two different lessons so that each student benefits and gets the challenges they need to exceed. “The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is, and assisting in the learning process,” according to Differentiated Instruction.
Other things that I do in my classroom are complete formal observations. I see how my students interact with others, work independently, or in small groups. “When teachers differentiate instruction… they move toward seeing themselves as organizers of learning opportunities,” (Tomlinson, 2001).
I sit my students in a table group of 4, and two shoulder partners because I have some students who are below proficient, and others who are average or above. I like that my students can learn from their peers. “Using a variety of grouping strategies allows you to match students and tasks when necessary; and to observe and assess students in a variety of groupings and task conditions,” (Tomlinson, page 26).
During planning and instructional time, I always make sure I have allotted time with my struggling students. I make sure I give my independent learners time to work on their own, and if it’s needed, make sure I have other strategies of teaching the content. According to the article, “Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom,” “when differentiation is used in lesson planning, the available time is used flexibly in order to meet all students’ needs.”
“As teachers, we have to know where we want to end up before we start out,” according to Educational Leadership. That means that we have to have a solid curriculum and instruction in place before we differentiate them. I think that’s really important. “Decide what you want the students to know (facts and information) and understand (principles and concepts), and be able to do as a result of the learning experience,” according to Guidelines for Differentiating Instruction. I really liked the ideas given by McCarthy on ways we can differentiate content, by planning on delivering it in different formats: videos, recordings, lectures, content can be chunked, shared through graphic organizers, jigsaw groups, UbD, etc. In his article, he mentions the important of digesting the information. What are we doing to have our students reflect on their learning? I think that’s very important for DI. I feel like this is something I can improve on as a teacher.
(2010). Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/MethodsofDifferentiationintheClassroom.aspx
Hall, T. (2002). Differentiated instruction. Wakefield, MA: National Center on.M. (2014, July 23). 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-ways-to-plan-john-mccarthy
(n.d.). Guidelines for Differentiating Instruction. Retrieved from https://www.curriculumassociates.com/professional-development/topics/DiffInstruction/extras/lesson4/dl4_2.pdf
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). Mapping a route toward differentiated instruction. Educational leadership, 57, 12-17.