Article: Differentiated Instruction and Assessment by Sue Watson, About.comThis article addresses the need for educators to assess individual needs, strengths and weaknesses and use this information to drive instruction and assessment. As educators we are already doing this because if you weren't you would struggle to help students meed the distric curriculum goals. (Our class has covered this well!)As we know, all children are different and have their own unique way of learning. In order to insure that learning happens, we as educators must pay attention to the individual child. Using learning style inventories and classroom observation you can learn a lot about the students in your class. I plan to start very simple with creating flower glyphs the first week of school. Our district also uses the first week of school to do some assessments with kindergarten students through Project Kindergarten. This is very helpful because in my building kindergarten is the first year students are in the formal school setting. (I will be interested to see how other kindergarten teachers like having pre-school in their buildings this year. This could prove to be a very valuable tool for kindergarten teachers! Differentiated instruction and assessment are important because they allow teachers to address students' differing abilities, strengths and needs when designing lessons to meet these needs. Several key points to differentiated instruction and assessment are: *Choices in learning activities and how the student will demonstrate knowledge.*Learning tasks that address learning styles and strengths/weaknesses. *Varying student grouping.*Multiple intelligences and thinking styles are considered. *Authentic learning tasks so students can make connections. *Project and problem based learning. (Adapted to each students needs) *Opportunities for students to think for themselves are evident.I use the information gathered during project kindergarten to individualize my instruction to each student and to determine what the areas of strength and weakness is for the class as a whole. This is key to how I plan my year!To use differentiated instruction and assessment you must follow some steps:1- Identify learning outcomes2- Asses students' prior knowledge3- Determine what students want to learn4- Determine how students will demonstrate new knowledge after research/investigations5- Create a rubric that contains descriptors for social and knowledge skillsAt kindergarten I am much more involved in developing tasks and assessments than I would be at upper grade levels.If you are headed on the right path you should be able to answer the following questions:1) How are you differentiating content?2) How are you differentiating assessment?3) How are you differentiating the process?The article also encourages you to keep at it even if it seems frustrating! (Remember, do a little bit at a time!)This article summarizes what we are learning in class. I like that it talked through the steps and listed those. I do realize that not all articles or information will have exactly the same steps, but it is evident that some basic steps are consistently mentioned in books, articles and in our class. I was glad that we talked about assessment today as that helped me understand that portion of the article.
Differentiating curriculum for Adavnced learners in the Mixed Ability Middle School Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson ERIC EC Digest 3E536, Oct 95This article was sort of an overview of some of the concepts we have been studying in class, but had some good points to ponder.It began with why to do differentiation. Because we has such a diverse student population. Next it went over what is and what isn't DI. The emphasis here was having a variety of approaches and options. Then it gave four main characteristics of the DI classroom. 1. It is key concepts based 2. it has on-going assessment 3. It has flexible grouping 4. students are active explorersThe next section of the article was the most interesting. This was the part that addressed the advanced learner. It gave ways in which a less advanced student would differ/benefit compared to the more advanced learner respectfully: concrete to abstract simple to complex basic to transformational (application) fewer facets to multi facets(cross curricular) more structure to more open dependence to independence a final point was sort of surprising -- less time to more time. The advanced student might actually nned to more to explore the concept.The last part of the article was about some of the thingds in a DI classroom -- supplimental materials, computers, interest centers, learning contracts, compacting, and tiering to name some,Overall, I thought the piece about comparing the less advanced to the more advanced learner was valuable, She said to look at it as a continuim. I understand that the more advanced learner will need help in moving through the continuim. It would be helpful for me to use that list when planning for tiering or grouping because my goal would would be to provide students the opportunity to move over. I may not start out spectacular, but if I could just provide some opportunity, the I would be growing !
Article:Change Your Bait! by Martha KaufeldtI was interested in this author after discussing classroom management today in class. I went to her website and found a lot of great material on brain intelligences and differentiation. She discusses eight strategies to hook learners. Some of this information I had learned in a Brain Intelligences class, some of it is exactly what we have been learning in class this week. Ms. Kaufeldt discusses three key elements of brain-compatible learning and gives resources for it. She then moves to the three key elements of brain-compatible teaching and learning which are less stress, do the real thing and use it or lose it! Less stress means that stress and perceived threat minimize the brain's capabilities to learn. Less stress helps create a safe and secure climate and environment. Less stress promotes personal relationships and social skills. Doing the real thing includes multi-sensory experiences to promote brain growth and connections. It provides enriched environments for learning and encourages discovery play and meaningful engagement. Using it or losing it discusses multiple opportunities to actively process new learning and assures long term retention. Differentiating instruction, providing choices, varying groups and honoring multiple intelligences plays a large part in this part of her discussion. All in all it is "orchestrating opportunities to apply new learning in real-world experiences."It is important to keep learning joyful, rigorous and ascertain that students know the agenda, purpose and game plan. Always allow time for reflection, contemplation and expansion. Avoid the reflex response by posting agendas daily and explaining procedures. Create a compatible learning environment, encourage movement and healthy habits. Include community building activities, novelty and humor each day. Allow students to process, choose activities and include multiple intelligences and learning styles. Natural lighting, fresh water, movement and exercise enhance the brains workings. Do not let the student get too tired, hot or hungry.Enriched environments include prior learning, appropriate concepts and content, first-hand learning experiences and a variety of resources. Always allow lots of time to complete projects.Let students reflect on their product and process their learning. Include personal choices of their work, and allow them to collaborate with others.Some great ways to reflect are: journaling, visualizing, discussions, note taking and graphic organizers.The types of intelligences are: word smartness, number and logic smartness, music smartness, body smartness, picture smartness, nature smartness, self smartness, people smartness. Ms. Kaufeldt discusses these intelligences in depth in this article.Bloom's taxonomy is used to increase higher levels of thinking. The levels are: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, evaluation, synthesis. These levels are incorporated in the differentiated classroom to increase student learning and thinking processes.Ms. Kaufeldt has posted a thorough article on multiple intelligences and differentiated instruction. It is well worth reading. Thank you. Marcia M.
Rick Wormeli Podcast part I, part II, part IIIPart I – Rick talks about his new book entitled “Differentiation: from planning to practice grades 6-12”. He wrote this book because he felt there was a void in resources already in publication. He felt this book would pull things together for teachers. This book shows the classroom teacher step by step how to incorporate differentiated instruction into the classroom. He focuses on a twelve step process over and over again. The book shows a model lesson and what students actually do. The book is divided into three major sections. The first section focuses on the fourteen most frequently used low prep generic strategies. For example, flex grouping, tiering and exit cards. The second section focuses on how the mind learns. There are many books out there for the primary grades but his deals with the middle school and the high school student. In the third section his give the twelve most common scenarios in middle/high school and how to respond using D.I. For the secondary teacher it may be as simple as walking over to a desk and helping a student.Part II – In this podcast Rick Wormeli explains how assessment is the first step to actually using differentiated instruction. As a teacher, your first obligation to your students is to gather information on them. This may include doing a pre-assessment on them. He then explains that this information is worth nothing unless we use it to analyze the data and adjust the instruction. A teacher maximizes their instruction by using this evaluation data. The hardest thing for teachers to get over is that it’s okay to adjust your lesson plan/instruction. An administrator should be able to ask “How did assessment inform one of your lessons this week” and the answer should roll off your tongue. A teacher has to begin by knowing their students – Multiple intelligences, learning styles and/or readiness levels. Start small – one idea a month. Give yourself at least 3 years to truly incorporate D.I.Part III – What an administrator sees when they look in on a true D.I. classroom. D.I. is not a “dog and pony” show for a formal observation. 90% of D.I. is what’s done before or in the planning process. If a teacher is consistently using D.I. you should see three things. The students actively engaged, happy (safe & invited in class) and learning (hearing those “aha” moments). Teachers will need to explain “Fair is not always equal”. Use analogies for students. Teachers need to let their students know that they will do whatever it takes to help them learn.My opinion: This was a fantastic podcast to listen too and very informative. I’m glad I waited until the third day to listen to it because I understood exactly what he was talking about. After listening to it I truly think this book would be a wonderful resource for any secondary teacher in the classroom.
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