Differentiation in the Classroom
Examples in the Classroom
What is differentiation?
Differentiation is the idea of varying a technique or task to recognize differences. For so long people have always seemed to think that there is one way to do things right. However, considering that we are all different individuals, coming from different cultures and backgrounds, we must also consider that a job can be completed in various ways and still be high quality. As a teacher I have learned that differentiation makes learning more intriguing for students. In other careers it sets a stage for various personalities and individual traits. It enables us to appreciate creativity and respect for individual ideas and talent.
In the Classroom
Teachers should use data: test scores, previous reports, and other information in students' individual records to create a chart. This chart should be use to categorize your students based on their needs, ex: Below Level, On Level, Above Level. Knowing your base allows you to appropriately plan your differentiated lesson plan. That way you will not only teach to the middle and hope that everyone will catch on, but you will plan to engage the whole class. A typical lesson will ask close ended questions that everyone is expected to know the answer to. A differentiated lesson will ask open ended questions that will allow for all levels to respond to. Teachers can gauge for opportunities to explain concepts by using student responses.
Preparing for different levels means having an understanding not only of the students' individual needs but also their learning styles. Some children are more apt to sit still and enjoy hearing a brief lecture, while others would rather move around and act out the lesson; for example, a skit about a cycle. Others need pictures to visualize and keep tract of what is being said. Many teachers struggle with differentiation because it intells a surfiet amount of detailed work. Often times various materials and stations have to be set up. Small group lessons have to reflect different objectives based on data. Anecdotal records must be organized and kept for each student, and a general knowledge must be apprehended on each student as well.
How can a teacher effectively teach to different levels and different personalities with yet different learning styles when he or she is but one person? Use workstations, and rotate students through them after a whole group introduction. Make a small group station one of the stations that students rotate through, where they meet up with you and practice or hear something they need to learn individually. In order to do this efficiently, you must make your behavioral expectations clear and have classroom procedures in place to discourage any interruptions in the learning environment.
You can find guidance through your lead teacher or admin team. Often working with colleagues makes the job easier. If you are departmentalized, disicussing your shared students with your partner teacher helps in identifying student needs. Also using various curriculums helps. You can take different aspects that might help your students learn. Also talking to parents about differentiation helps set an understanding about this newer way of teaching. Causing them to see their child's learning in a different light. For example with homework, send home more than one choice. Recriut parents that meet district requirements to help with large projects. Site everyday examples to support lessons.
Helpful links that support differentiation
- Workstations not playstations: A teacher's workstati...
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