Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Differentiated Instruction

Adapted from Fair Isn't Always Equal by Rick Wormeli
Chapter 1: The Differentiated Instruction Mind-set: Rationale and Definition
Using what we know about how the brain learns best is actually the best way to differentiate. YEAH- brain based research!

Classroom management gets easier in differentiated classrooms as students are all appropriately challenged and learning is maximized.

When we don’t differentiate we actually make things EASIER for students who struggle. It’s a lot easier for them to give up and not try because the task is so challenging for them. When work is differentiated they are challenged and must work much harder.

If we are testing students on material that was not differentiated, then the test is not even accurate of what they are able to do. They don’t have the tools to learn well.

Chapter 2: Mastery
Students who thought teachers and peers were focused on mastery and independent thinking scored higher on a district-wide curriculum-based test than students who thought their classroom was based on ability.

Evidence of mastery should include 1) multiple assessments and/or 2) tracking the progress of a few important works over time.

Chapter 3: Principles of Successful Assessment in the Differentiated Classroom
Teachers should always be concerned about where their students are at right now in their learning and how to get them to where they need to be.

Informal and formal assessment should be taking place 24/7.

Assessment should focus not on documenting deficiencies but on shaping instructional decisions.

A short pre-test should be given at the start of each unit before planning for the unit begins.

Nothing in adult life is kept a secret so don’t keep what’s on the test a secret either.

Prioritize unit objectives by categorizing them as essential, highly desirable, and desirable.

It’s ok to remove or change an essential objective for students who struggle but make sure they have a plan to get back on track and achieve that objective.

For students who are advanced, make sure they achieve the essential objective but don’t require them to put in the time practicing it if it’s already mastered.

To stay focused on the overall goals of a unit, write the test out before you even start teaching.

A unit should include a pre-tests, mini assessments throughout the unit, and a final assessment.

Providing students with specific, frequent feedback on their progress towards a goal increases their achievement by 37 percentile points!

More focus should be on the mini assessments in the middle of a unit than the beginning and end tests.

Assessments should 1) be similar to how students will apply their learning in the real world and 2) be similar to how they are learning in class.

Assessments should never be saved for the end of a unit.

Don’t give students “fluff” assignments unless they are for extra credit. Make learning fun, but take out the fluff assignments.

Steps for a Differentiated Lesson
1. Identify essential knowledge.
2. Identify students with unique needs (high/low, attention, modalities, multiple intelligences, etc.)
3. Design formative and summative assessments.
4. Design and deliver pre-assessments.
5. Adjust assessments if needed.
6. Design learning experiences for students based on what you found out on pre-assessments.
7. Check to make sure your lessons will help all students learn the material.
8. Review your plan with another professional.
9. Create materials for the lesson.
10. Conduct the lesson.
11. Evaluate the success of the lesson.
12. Record advice for yourself to use in the future.

Keep a folder for each student. Record information from observations and other methods on sticky notes. At the end of each day put the sticky notes into each of the student’s folders who you wrote notes on. If you need the notes for the next day’s lesson then put them by your lesson plans. Once a week copy the sticky notes onto a running record in each student’s folder.

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