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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction

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137 Replies 6359 Views

I have been teaching for about 9 years, and every year I try to do a little bit more differentiation. This year I am ramping up my DI but it's certainly a lot of work, trying to analyze students' individual learning styles, multiple intelligences, etc. and then create different tiers of instruction and assignments. I am curious to hear from the group at Edutopia if anyone has suggestions and advice for creating a completely differentiated classroom, along with the management and preparation that goes with it.

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Jane Altemen's picture

Hi Lauren R,
I just came upon this so my thoughts may be way too late. I too handle lots of students for a short time. (I teach highschool chemistry)Three things I do to cope:
1. survey their fav ways of learning when I meet them and use it so get the kinesthetic kids to model stuff, and point out during lesson that this bit is for the visual kids, this bit is for the linguistic...
2. begin each lesson with a check and they're required to master it
3. I write three versions of the lab instruction sheet
Jane Altemen
United Nations International School of Hanoi
Vietnam

Jane Altemen's picture

How I cope:
1. survey their fav learning tricks and use them
2. begin each lesson with a check of understanding that they can master
3. I write three versions of the lab report instruction sheet

Lynette Harris's picture

Thanks for your response and the title of the book. It sounds like a great resource to look into.

Lynette Harris's picture

Thanks Katherine for the title of a book that looks like will be a great resource for all teachers.

Jane Altemen's picture

Teachers in this situation have extra DI challenges.

I'd love to swap ideas with you if you have this situation.
In high school chem:

1. I keep handy a list of each stu's favourite learning style. This way I remember who the kinesthetic learners are and get them to model the concepts. I remember who the oral kids are and choose them to give the oral snapshot of the lesson. etc.

2. I write three versions of lab instruction sheets when it is a planning lab and when there is data processing to be done. I dont justify why I am helping some kids more than other; and all know they can email me any time for tips. They seem to like that I see them as successful chemists who will figure it out on their own. They swell up with pride when I take one aside and say, dont waste your busy time with this homework tonight, instead, listen to this university lecture podcast and summarize it for me in a paragraph.

3. Daily formative work keeps me on top of who needs differentiation for each concept because I make a big point of noting that the same student doesnt need scaffolding for every concept.

I am desperate for ideas for DI that works when we dont have the students for longer chunks of time so please put me in touch with someone who can help.

Thanks,
Jane Altemen, Hanoi Vietnam

Penelope Vos's picture
Penelope Vos
Primary teacher from Australia, author of "Talking to the Whole Wide World"

Teaching Esperanto as your class' first foreign language engages more of your class because the less able have more chance to make progress and the more able can make a wider choice of application. This is because the unique regularity of the "rules" encourages and rewards innovation.
As Esperanto is spoken as a second language in dozens of countries, your students can choose which cultures they would like to contact and explore, with it.
You can teach and learn Esperanto at the same time using "Talking to the Whole Wide World" available from www.mondeto.com

Donna Luna's picture

One of the many ways I have used differentiation in my classroom is to create a project that revolves around teen novels. I include a variety of assessments throughout the project, allowing teens to select their own novels and choice for demonstrating what they know. I teach the basics about literary tems, plot, etc. using written and non linguistic representation, videos, and otherd instructional strategies. This takes about a month to finish, but each student is able to present what they learned using various means of expression from writing to visual presentations. This can be used year after year and the products created by students are usually quite awesome.

Scott Gunderson's picture
Scott Gunderson
High School Math and Science Teacher from Chico, CA

My answer is to not try to cover it all. It's clear that U.S. standards try to do too much each year and end up doing too little. Choose the essential standards for your course and hit them very hard from multiple perspectives and with engaging activities and appropriate practice. When a student "gets it" before the others, challenge them with extension problems or a project or have them independently work with material that the rest of the class may not get to. Expect mastery of the core material from all students but be reasonable. Don't end up the year having achieved too little because a couple students wouldn't allow you to progress. This to me is the heart of differentiation: challenge each student appropriately and engagingly.

Charles Washburn's picture
Charles Washburn
Executive Director of VSA Massachusetts

http://udlspotlight.wordpress.com/category/vsa-arts/ describes a method for accomplishing UDL, an approach to instruction and learning that assumes that students will need a variety of paths ( linguistic, physical, visual, etc.) to engage subject matter in order to be successful an express what they know. VSA Massachusetts will offer a course for graduate credit on Arts and UDL this fall. email cjwashburn@vsamass.org for more info.

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