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What are the best ways to differentiate instruction in the K-12 classroom?
All students learn differently. When modifying instruction to best meet the needs of all students within an educational environment, what types of models or techniques have worked best for you?
I am not really a teacher, but i have done some training occasionally. From what I have seen it is always good to combine lectures with activities that will encourage active learning.
It is wise to use mnemonics, rhymes using popular star names as mnemonics, activities demonstrating concepts, video content if available, slides and power point presentations and more. anything that makes the classroom environment less monotonous is a great idea.
The classroom learning and teaching has undergone a lot of changes. Now a days emphasis is laid on the overall development of the students.
The best way to teach the students is by following the integrated teaching and learning approach. This kind of teaching concept involves various activities that sharpen the memory skills of the students and gives them exposure to the knowledge and expands their horizons in learning. The classroom teaching has to be a platform to interact, discuss and solving the issues that the students face.
as far as i have seen in schools, kids like it when their teachers give examples to explain a term to them. also, small activities wherein the student can participate is what makes the children more interested in the class, compared to monotonous teaching routine.
The most hyper validated evidence-based teaching method that maximizes any students rate and quality of learning is Direct Instruction (DI). Academically strong students can triple their performance in half the time. Multiple students can be taught literally, optimally at the same time, - previously under performing and top performing students, equally.
Learning and behaviorally challenged students can actually finish high school with strong grades in 2 years as measured by currently used standardized tests. Support staff can be trained to proficiency as certified DI instructors in 2 weeks. Yet this method is swept under the rug because it would render most educational jobs redundant.
Some schools are adapting DI, but in most cases they do not implement the entire scientifically-based methodology or only some of its components, like vinegar without the baking soda.The entire program, with the standard-celeration sheet and behavioral reinforcement components must be implemented jointly to maximize learning gains effectively.
Please see my Hub on DI.......
I think the other answers thus far are good, but can certainly be added to. I find projects and choice tend to work well within guidelines so they meet certain standards, but take more ownership of their work. Any time their project is seen as "authentic", they tend to work harder. For example, my students worked much harder on books we had published than on stories they just turn in to me because a book is a more authentic product.
Differentiation tends to be done based on either ability level or interest level or a combination of the two. One project I love and my students love even more is the tic-tac-toe (which can be skill and/or interest differentiation). You choose 9 projects on a common theme, skill, or idea. These can be small (do the whole thing in a day) or large (each project might take a few days). I like to organize mine based on different intelligences strategically arranged to let students have some work in their comfort zone and then to have to push themselves for others. Students choose three projects based on the rules of tic-tac-toe--three in a row. An easy way to differentiate based on skill level is to have a box that's the easiest level, one in the middle, and one that's more advanced. You can make your advanced kids choose one of those harder boxes; your struggling learners might have to choose one of the easier boxes, but they can choose their other options. This gives them choice while still letting them work to their ability.
One thing I've found most helpful in differentiating instruction for students is both me and them understanding their multiple intelligences (we call them our smarts--I work with middle school kids). We take tests to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and then we talk about strategies that can help them study and succeed based on their smarts. Most kids are not word smart/linguistically intelligent as their strongest skill set, but that's what most study strategies teach, so it sets up lots of kids to fail. By helping identify their strengths with specific strategies, it really helps kids succeed and makes it easier for them to take accountability for their own education.
If you're interested in any of the study strategies or tests to talk about with kids, let me know, and I can email you copies of what I use with my kids. It's probably best understood by kids in grades 3+.
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