Week 1: The Rationale for Differentiated Instruction
This week we discuss Differentiated Instruction and read Carol Ann Tomlinson’s ‘How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms’. We conduct a mind map assignment in regards to what we feel differtiated instruction is.
Click link below to view my mind map on Differentiated Learning.
When I think of differentiated learning, there are several avriables that come to mind. The question was, “What is differentiated Instruction?” This is at the center of my mind map. From the center, I was able to branch out with various ideas that stand out to me such as:
- Learning from your students
2. VAK (Visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners)
3. Properly counseling students; providing feedback to enrich continued learning
4. Problem solving
5. Continually assess students
6. Embrace updated classroom technologies (i.e. SMART board etc.)
7. Collobarative Learning Environment (are the classrooms conducsive to collective learning?)
8. Coaching and mentoring program
9. Personal Learning Environments such as these with Post University
10. Keeping Learning Relevant
11. Ensure that Learning is enriching, challenging and FUN
12. Sharing life experiences (Student –> teacher, student –> student and teacher –> student )
13. Working in groups to pair up those with experience and those who have less experience to make each student well rounded
14. Backwards planning to ensure that we as educators have everything we need to facilitate lessons IAW doctrine and institution
15. Reward students for their efforts, whether the answer is correct or wrong. Stimulate each student to contribute.
16. Apply Socratic Questioning to see how students are thinking which allows students to defend their conclusions and build confidence amongst peers.
According to Carol Tomlinson (2012), “Differentiating instruction is teaching with the child in mind”. Differentiating instruction is individualizing instruction for each learner so that they are learning in a way in which they learn best. Whether it is by their readiness level, interest level, type of intelligence, or learning preferences, students are allowed to complete learning activities that match with their own personal characteristics (Tomlinson, 2001). Instructional strategies and practices need to be structured so each student is able to understand the material, meet instructional objectives, and succeed academically. In order to do that it is imperative that every learning environment is safe and welcoming for all learners, designed so that mutual respect exists between teachers/learners and learners/learners, structured so that there are clear expectations for personal and academic growth, and organized so that activities and assessments are planned with the students’ overall academic success in mind (Tomlinson, 2001).
Since every learner learns differently, and each classroom can consist of students from a variety of academic abilities, there are many strategies that K-12 educators can use so that every student can show their academic potential. The first step that educators need to complete is the organization of “flexible groups” based off learner profiles. In a “flexible group” students can be learning with other students that learn at the same ability and speed, learn best through the same methods, have similar likes/dislikes, or even are close to each other in proximity (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). Depending on the activity or lesson, the teacher can decide which type of group he/she wants to use on that particular day. Once those “flexible groups” (groups that are easily changed) are created students will begin to invest in their own learning, an imperative characteristic of a learner-centered classroom. Some popular activities that can be completed in “flexible groups” include: implementation of orbital studies, allowing students to choose their own tasks through the 4MAT system, tiered lessons, small-group instruction, anchoring activities, jigsaw activities, and group investigations (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000).
There are many ways to be that ‘different’ teacher in the classroom.
How do you engage your students?
What do you do to encourage your students to learn?
How do you empower your adult learners to take charge of their learning experience?
Knowles’s (1980) concept of andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn) is among the better-known models in adult learning. The essence of Knowles’s model lies in the following assumptions about adults: (a) they are more self-directed than dependent; (b) their accumulation of experiences is a rich resource for learning; (c) their readiness to learn is directly related to the tasks required in their social roles; (d) they are more subject centered than problem centered in learning; (e) they find internal motivations more powerful than external ones; and (f) they need to know why it is important to learn something. Knowles viewed these assumptions as critical to the design of educational programs for adults.
“At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction.” Tomilson, C. A. (n.d.). What Is Differentiated Instruction? Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-differentiated-instruction.
Here is Mrs. Carol Ann Tomlinson on Differentiated Instruction:
I would define differentiated instructions to a colleague as: A means of facilitating, instructing, mentoring, coaching, motivating, inspiring students to learn in atmosphere when learning is enriching, challenging and stimulating which breeds confidence, commitment, and aspires each other to attain educational goals.
I would define differentiated instructions to a student (learner) as: Learning from others in an environment which has zero tolerance for racism, sexism, and violence. A collaborative learning envrionment which inspires each other to grow academically, while building confidence and Espirit De’ Corps.
Combined definition of Differentiated Instruction: Learning from others in an environment which has zero tolerance for racism, sexism, and violence. A collaborative learning envrionment which inspires each other to grow academically, while building confidence and Espirit De’ Corps. means of facilitating, instructing, mentoring, coaching, motivating, inspiring students to learn in atmosphere when learning is enriching, challenging and stimulating which breeds confidence, commitment, and aspires each other to attain educational goals.
How do you or might you use differentiated instructions in your professional context?
As an educator and instructor for the Army, I am charged with providing knowledge, mentorship and counseling through lecture, group discussion and facilitation. I will be inspirational, enthusiastic while enhancing a learning environment condcusive for learning which builds confidence and mentally challenges each student to grow professionally and individually by applying and giving each student the standards in order for them to succeed. I will tailor and make each lesson plan my own and tailor it to my students learning styles so that my instruction meets and or exceeds the needs of my students. I will be cognizant of my students’s learning styles and alter my teaching methods to enhance learning.
Other theories of adult learning include Illeris’s (2002) three dimensions of learning model, Jarvis’s (1987) model of the learning process, McCluskey’s (1963) theory of margin, and Mezirow’s (2000) theory of transformative learning. Illeris’s three dimensions of learning are cognition, emotion, and social context, among which learning continually interacts. Jarvis holds that change occurs in a person as a result of the person having experienced dissonance, which led to learning. Adult development and the timing of learning are central to McCluskey’s theory of margin, while Mezirow’s transformative learning occurs as a change in the adult’s consciousness through the process of learning.
“In a differentiated classroom, the teacher assumes that different learners have differingneeds. Therefore, the teacher proactively plans avariety of ways to “get at” and express learning.He still needs to tailor or fine-tune instructionfor individual learners, but because differentlearning options are available based on his knowledge of varied learner needs, the chancesare greater that the learning experiences willprovide an appropriate fit for many learners.Effective differentiation will typically be proactively planned by the teacher to be robustenough to address a range of learner needs, incontrast with planning a single approach foreveryone and reactively trying to adjust theplans when it becomes apparent that the lessonis not working for some of the learners forwhom it was intended.” Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.