Essential question: How do you make decisions about your own actions for students in a differentiated classroom? What is your criteria for intervention, and/or for letting learning happen?
Yes – two essential questions and both are likely to make your brain hurt. However, these actions that we take to assist each student in learning can become habit – and it can be helpful to examine why we do what we do. Are we very directive, and wish we were less so? Do we sometimes feel we are too laissez-faire in the classroom? Let’s dig down into our reasons – both conscious and subconscious for the reasons we create the learning environments that we do.
Our reading will provide Tominson’s best advice as to how to identify the needs of learners, and how we, as teachers can try to meet those sometimes competing needs. Ongoing reflection is of course necessary, as is ongoing assessment and continuing feedback cycles. This reminds me of Scott’s infographic from last week. Often there is no straight line to learning. Instead, we take a series of turns, doing repeated self-checks and depending on knowledgeable others to give us a sense of whether we are heading in the right direction. Constant communication is key for differentiation to take place.
Think of different things such as the organization of your classroom, the stances you take during discussion, the way that you give instructions, and your level of comfort with giving students choices with assignments (either as they are doing them, or in terms of the final project). Consider your grouping strategies, and the function of small group work Also consider the function of large-group work. What are your goals for these activities? What do those goals say about your criteria for intervention and/or about your willingness to take time to “let learning happen”?
Required (Two of the three following)
Read Chapters 3 and 4 inHow to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms
(found as an e-book in Egan Library). If you are tired of wrestling with Egan Library – you can see the entire book here: http://westenglish.weebly.com/uploads/3/1/1/3/3113826/differentiated_instruction_tomlison_book.pdf
Read Edutopia article: Three Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do
Read BBCActive article: Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom
Also remember to add 3-5 of your own resources to your blog entry.
Students are expected to post a response to the Essential Question for the week by Wednesday evening. Students then interact with others by making postings to their blogs and interacting in twitter. On Sunday, students are expected to post a reflection on their blog of the learning that they have encountered during the week.
Create a concept map to illustrate the meaning you made of the reading this week (including the reading that you did!)
Concept mapping software: