Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Have you discussed DI with an administrator, colleague, or student? Please tell us about it here!


Mindee said...

EDU 659: Differentiation in the Regular Classroom
Field Experience
Teacher Interview in Person
Mindee Lunkwitz
July 7, 2008


The following interview was done with a retired teacher, Jane, who has taught for 23 years in either 4th, 5th or 6th grades and is now a substitute in our district. The other teacher, Sally, has been teaching for 8 and 1/2 years in first grade. The objective of this interview was to find out both educator’s definition of differentiation, what strategies they incorporated into their teaching, and their views on the advantages and disadvantages of using differentiation in the classroom.


When defining differentiation instruction, Jane describes it as adapting the curriculum to meet the needs of all students. Sally describes differentiated instruction as alternating the curriculum to challenge all students. Both teachers had very similar ideas. They agree that you must change your curriculum to meet the needs of your students.


Jane taught in an elementary school that had a special classroom for students that were mild to moderate handicapped. She had many good ideas for reaching those students. She mentioned that often times they were non writers, but they could still draw pictures and answer questions orally with the help of a para recording their answers. Other accommodations that she would do for students might include eliminating parts of a question/fewer choices or enlarging print, and allowing extended time. On the other end of the pendulum, Jane agreed that it was important to challenge all types of learners. The strategies that Jane found were allowing the students to do special projects related to a certain subject matter, allowing students to be the expert and serve as a teacher to help others struggling.

Sally chose to mainly focus on the subject areas of Reading and Math when responding to how she differentiates her instruction. In Reading, Sally uses different seat work for levels of skills for different needs. While her students are working on their own seat work, she is working with core groups on skills. She said one might be drawing or color to answer work, while the top group is writing. In Math, she says she uses lots of games. The students love them and actively get involved. One game that her students really enjoy is called “Top It!”. You use a deck of cards and change the rules for different levels. Another program that her school was trained in is called Stand Out Math. The program uses different ways of presenting skills with chants, raps, and songs. It is especially known for being oral/auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Also, this program is praised for reaching all kinds of learners.

Advantages of Using D.I.

Jane believes that the learners are less frustrated. She finds her students are more motivated. She states that, “Motivated learners achieve more!”.

Sally believes the the biggest advantage is that there is more positive results for the students and teacher.

Disadvantages of Using D.I.

Both teachers agree that differentiating education is more work which means more time. They also agree that you never have enough time. Jane pointed out that you may not progress as much in a text book, but you have to look at the learning that is being impacted. Sally taught in an elite school in Colorado and always had concerns about the “parents talk”. The parents were concerned about one kid doing one thing and their child doing another. She strongly felt that educating the parents about D.I. was necessary.

My Reflection:

I found this an exciting opportunity to learn from peer teachers. I was amazed of the similarities and differences. It reassured me you will find that all teachers do differentiated learning, but how they choose to, is the fascinating part. Many concepts that we have discussed over the past few days were present during these interviews. Some of the key factors are reaching all learning styles using different strategies, multiple intelligence's, bloom’s taxonomy, time and information hindering D.I., finding what kids are interested in and capturing their attention, and looking at readiness levels. Also, most importantly that we need to keep in mind that “Fair does not always mean equal!”.

Hannah said...

I participated in an interview with seven different students. These students ranged in ages of 2nd grade to a senior in high school. In this paper you will see the students thoughts summarized and combined. We will look at some similarities and differences of the students’ thoughts.

Let’s start with similarities of the students. The first similarity that was pretty prominent was that teachers do a lot of talking. One students put it into a good quote, “I wish teachers would do less talking and more interacting.” Another similarity was if the students liked what they were doing or studying they would do more of it. If they didn’t like it they would do just what they had to to get the grade. A third similarity was distractions or what kept them from learning. Most of the students said that the other students were distracting. The last similarity was if they would like to work with partners or by themselves. Most of them liked to work with partners if they could choose their partners. If they could not choose their partners they preferred to work alone. One student, however, said she preferred the teacher to choose the partners because it makes it more interesting.

One other similarity that stuck out was the characteristics of their favorite teacher. The most prominent characteristic was that the teacher taught in the way they learned best or gave them choices. Then they could choose what they liked to do and this was most likely was a thing they liked to do or was in the way they learned.

Now on to differences, these are pretty much the differences I would have guessed them to be. The first one and that a lot of people sometimes tend to overlook, is the way students learn. Three of the students said they learned best by reading the information. One of the students said they learned best by seeing the information. One of the students said they learned best by seeing the information but also by hearing the information. And two of the students said they learned best by doing hands-on activities pertaining to the information. (Isn’t this interesting! We heard earlier that most of the teachers teach by lecturing. Did any of the students we interviewed learn best by hearing the information? No! Well one out of the six, but he also had to see it.) Another difference, which is similar with some, was if they would mind if the others were doing something different than them. The elementary students said they would want everybody to do the same thing. Middle school students said they wouldn’t mind, if they did what they learn better with. The high school students said that if they had a partner to do it with.

By reflecting on the interviews with the students, I can really see the importance of differentiated instruction. By really knowing my students, their interests and learning styles, a better teacher I can be.

Dawn78 said...

Today, we interviewed students in elementary, middle, and high school.
The number one thing I hear the students say was that they liked choice, They liked in projects, assignments, and even choosing their own partner to work with. The was quite a variety of interests among the students, Some liked music, others reading, math. All had insight into what type of learner they were. Another theme was that disruptive students were a concern. Technology seemed to important to them. Another theme as that they wanted the teacher to talk less and have the students do more. (Although not more homework) Each seemed to value a warm, inviting, and caring classroom.

Implications for teachers:

Talk less, have students do more. give them options. Create a safe environment. Give students and options. Let them explore. honor their interests.

Connections to DI:

Exactly what we have been learning. Choices, interest, challenging-- students want that and DI can get that.

cindy said...

Field Experience
Differentiated Instruction
Cindy Johnson

Today we had the chance to interview numerous students at a variety of grade levels and find out more about their learning styles, preferences and how we, as teachers, can be more effective instructors.

When asked how they learn best, there were many differences. I was impressed that the students seemed to have a real understanding of their strengths. They also knew which teachers taught to their strengths. I was also interested to find out that one student had a teacher that taught to his learning style and he actually learned to like a subject area he previously didn’t like. (What an impact we have on our students! It is amazing that classroom experiences can actually mold a child’s likes or dislikes and help them discover areas of strength they didn’t know they had!!)

The students all liked to have choices in their learning and felt that they put a lot more effort into projects that they chose. Students actually pointed out that having different projects or tasks kept other students from copying their work or looking off their paper! This also indicates that Differentiated Instruction not only challenges students where they are, but also holds students more accountable for their learning. What a profound effect this can have on learning!!

Students also liked to work with partners or groups as long as they got to work with people they got along well with and as long as the group or partners did the work too. If they could not choose a partner or group, some actually would prefer to work alone.

Students didn’t mind working on something different than others in the class as long as it didn’t mean they had to do more work than the others. For example, students that participated in HAL liked the HAL activities, but didn’t like coming back to class and having to catch up on all of the work they missed.

Students felt that teachers could be more effective by talking less and interacting more. Research has told us the same thing. I found these students to be extremely insightful and found it ironic that they could tell in short interviews the same things that years of research are now indicating!!

Marce said...

Interview with Two Teachers
A Field Experience for Differentiation in the Regular Classroom: EDU 659 Doane College
July 9, 2008
Marcia Misegadis

The purpose of these interviews was to determine what two different teachers thought differentiation was, strategies to use for it and advantages and disadvantages for using it in the classroom.

The definition that Marge, a retired veteran teacher, gave was helping kids do their best by providing activities on their level.

The definition that Carol, a four year teacher, gave was helping kids learn in the way they learn best.

The strategies that Marge employed was using one on one instruction, giving shorter assignments, lots of encouragement, explaining the lesson in several different ways or asking peers to explain the information to the student. Marge used a quiet voice and room, no distractions, and lots of visual or hands on instruction to help the student with the work.

The strategies that Carol used were planning for different levels of understanding to fit student abilities and implementing visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities in her lessons. She said she tries to use these strategies in most of her lessons, as well as she can.

The advantages that both teachers reported were increased learning for the students. They both thought the students were excited about the work, and worked hard to complete work, to the best of their abilities.

The disadvantages cited by both teachers was the extra time it took to plan these lessons, the extra time it took to teach these lessons and classroom management.

In comparing the two interviews, I thought both teachers had a good grasp of effective teaching methods. The retired teacher was not as well informed, though, on differentiation as the new teacher, who had only a few years in the classroom. Both knew they needed to use appropriate levels of instruction for their students. Both understood the need to use the best method for the learning styles of their students. Both implemented a community where learners were safe, respected and challenged.

Most teachers use some components of DI, even if they have no knowlegde of what Differentiated Instruction is meant to be. Imagine what teachers can do if properly trained and engaged in the use of DI?

Thank you.

Marce said...

Interview with an Administrator
Field Experience
Differentiation in the Regular Classroom EDU 659 Doane College
July 9, 2008
Marcia Misegadis

The purpose of this interview with an administrator was to ask what the indicators are that they look for in the implementation of Differentiated Instruction and what implementation they are seeing in the classrooms.

The administrator I interviewed was gracious, and quite thoughtful of his answers. I appreciated his candor.

What he sees as far as the implementation of Differentiated Instruction is a variety of methods of delivery of curriculum. He also noticed awareness of instruction methods that are developmentally appropriate for age and ability levels. He knows that teachers are flexible in their teaching and keep abreast of changes in the profession.

As far as implementation of DI, the District has had speakers that have addressed the issue of DI. He sees an awareness to try different avenues of instruction.
The North Platte District now has the High Ability Learners program which incorporates lessons and activities for those students who are involved with HAL. The District has created library discovery centers to assist learners of every age and stage. We have computer labs that are up to date and will encourage more and better learning for all students. Teachers use these labs in different ways to suit the varying needs of students across the District. Many teachers are taking courses and workshops to keep ahead of the new technology that happens each day.

All in all, this administrator seemed pleased with the varied degrees of implementation of Differentiated Instruction that is occuring in our school system.

I was pleased that our administrators are aware of our efforts to improve student learning.

Respectfully. Marcia Misegadis

Angel Renninger said...

EDU 659: Differentiation in the Regular Classroom
Field Experience
Interview with students
Angel Renninger

Today our class did three interviews with various students. The first group consisted of three primary level students. The second panel was of students was high school age and the third group was two students from the middle school level. Questions were established the day before and people from the class picked and chose from that list. I think this way of interviewing students was absolutely the best way to interview them. They were very comfortable sitting in a group and answering to a group. I think the group of teachers asking the questions did a very good job of not trying to lead them to any answer. This helped them feel more confident in an answer and in turn giving us more honest information. As far as interest in their favorite class most seemed to be drawn to those that were more hands on with their subject area. There was no common subject that seemed to be a favorite to all students but it was the things in class that made the subject their favorite. The other thing that was surprising to me was that when asked “what is your biggest distraction in class?” they were very quick to say other students. Specifically students that were off task or disruptive to what each may be working on. Another common theme seemed to be choice. Even with students being at different ages, it was important to them to have a choice in the classroom. Example was choosing a partner/group or even a project. I think this is a key component in differentiated instruction and if students were taught early on that “Fair isn’t always equal” they would make some very good choices to help their own learning. After talking with the students about choice or having the same assignment, most would like to choose their own and really didn’t care about what others were doing. If they were working on a project that was of interest to them they all said they would go the extra mile. I was not surprised at all by the technology question. “Do you use technology in the class and how”? In the elementary group it seemed very important and teacher led. In the high school it was used very independently by each students interest. In the middle school it was used in a lab situation but classroom teachers assume students already know how to use the technology and those that are ahead have to wait on those that don’t know what their doing. I would be really interested to see if D.I. could be used the computer class in middle school. I really think after talking with the students we gained a lot of insight into what they think and feel about school. Even though we teach students everyday sometimes we forget what it was like to be in their shoes. I am glad we had this opportunity and I very much appreciate the students taking the time to come in during their summer to talk with us.

Marce said...

Student Interviews
Differentiation in the Regular Classroom EDU 659 Doane College
July 10, 2008
Marcia Misegadis

The interviews with students was quite good. I listened hard to what they had to say and found several areas that I will improve.

As there were several students, I am going to summarize across the grades. I found many similar themes running through their answers. No matter their ages.

First, it seems that their favorite classes varied, but their favored ways to learn stayed the same. The least favorite classes were either that the interest for that class was not present in the student, or the teacher was not a great presenter.

It seems to me that favorite teachers are ones that made a connection with the student in some manner. Caring about and for the student seems to be the best way to win a student's heart.

Often, the students knew how they learned best. I found this self awareness endearing and very smart on their parts.

Most students do not care for the large amount of distractors in a classroom, whether it is white noise or disruptive behaviors from other students. They have opinions on what needs to be done to correct the situation. The kids cited the fact that there is no respect for others when a person is being disruptive.

They loved the technology and seemed to have quite a bit of experience in using it. I had to wonder how far they would go if they were taught by an instructor of media.

Just like all of us, students do not appreciate too much talking by the teacher--unless it is interestingly presented. Don't bore us, let us get to the hands on activities.

I found it interesting that most would rather work by themselves than be partnered with someone who does not help with the work. One of the students cited sloppy work, unfinished activities, etc. Some did not mind having different work than the rest of their peers. Others wanted the same assignment, but not another student looking over his/her shoulder and copying the work.

They liked getting some recognition, rewards or pats on the back from the teacher or peers. Using their name was important to some of them and made them feel special.

I found it refreshing that they knew whether they did more work than necessary if they liked the subject or assignment. These answers showed insightfulness into their own makeup. They liked being able to choose assignments, partners and wished for more time to finish their work. All quite good reasons to do more work than they needed to do.

As I said above, I deeply appreciated the student's candor. It takes considerable courage to sit in front of a group of adults. They did very well. In addition, I liked what I heard and found ways to improve myself and my teaching in the classroom.

I was very glad to have had the opportunity to listen to and talk to these fine students.

Respectfully. Marcia M.