Sunday, April 15, 2012

Differentiated Learning

I always thought I was doing a pretty good job at meeting the needs of the students in my room. I considered myself a strong advocate of modified assignments until I really began to understand what differentiated instruction really is.  Differentiated instruction is truly about making sure that each student is academically successful. That does not mean less questions, or work that is a grade level below. It means taking the concept, standards, and benchmarks and presenting them to students in a way that every student can achieve mastery. It's about knowing each student and how they learn. It's about creating and maintaining a learning and teaching relationship. I was fortunate to be able to attend the differentiated instruction professional development in Las Vegas at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. The sessions that I attended opened my eyes. It was professional development where the money was well-spent. I came home with a new perspective and a host of ideas and strategies for my classroom. In this post I will provide some links and resources that I use in the classroom.

Are You Making these Four Differentiated Instruction Mistakes?
This is a website that makes differentation easier.

National Academies Press

This is a great addition to a professional development library

Classroom Instruction that Works

Here I am with one of my favorite authors Robert Marzano.

You Can Handle Them All
Before you can begin trying to change a child's behavior, you have to properly identify that behavior. The identification must be specific—for example, The Talker, The Cheater, or The Bully.

When I was in the classroom, this was my classroom management Bible. This site addresses the reasons behind behaviors and outlines the triggers and defusers for each type of behavior. At the beginning of the school year, I assessed my students behavior and created a behavior file for each of them. Learning about their behaviors helped me to be proactive and although it was time expensive for the first two weeks, I gained the time back because I spent less time with discipline issues and more time teaching.