differentiated instruction new catch phrase or promising teaching strategy touro college school of education and psychology graduate division sped 671 prof golomb yevgeniy pavlovskiy august 25 2008
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 2 of 9 differentiated instruction new catch phrase or promising teaching strategy at the time when every political campaign seemingly can not exist without a catch phrase or a word current one being change fighters for better education came up with a new one of their own differentiated instruction it supposes to be some new hot teaching technique or strategy to improve educational process in the climate of political correctness celebration of diversity and long held belief that all students are equal while being of different race culture and socioeconomic background some educators become brave enough to admit that one size no longer fits all they finally start admitting that different students learn in different ways and have different types of intelligences arends 2007 under pressure from increasing demands for accountability many teachers are forced to abandon creative teaching practices and are looking for strategies that will allow imparting knowledge to all the different students in their classrooms anderson 2007 hence one of the propose technique to save students and teachers is differentiated instruction when i hear about new teaching technique my fist two questions usually are can usage of this technique make a difference and if yes can it be implemented in my subject mathematics surprisingly enough the answers to both questions might be yes overview actually differentiated instruction is not a new idea at all it was proposed and its elements described by university of virginia professor carol ann tomlinson in 1999 tomlinson understood that students with different learning styles and types of intelligence require modified instructions that will address their strengths and enable them to be successful such instructions will require relentless planning from the teacher to address the needs of different students thus tomlinson proposed several elements that have to be addressed while planning differentiated instruction arends 2007 and edyburn 2004
yevgeniy pavlovskiy elements of differentiation sped 671 page 3 of 9 here is an overview of some elements proposed by tomlinson the teacher focus on the essentials since any given lesson s time is limited teachers have choice to either cover every single topic lightly or concentrate on essentials thus proponents of differentiated instruction argue for concentration on essential elements first and foremost arends 2007 according to burns some of the essential elements in mathematics are understanding of operations and problem solving students in the middle school who do not understand exponential form and its relationship to multiplication will have as much problems for example doing polynomial multiplication as students in the elementary school who do not understand relationship between addition and multiplication and asked to multiply large numbers burns 2007 hence during the planning of lessons teacher should focus on what is essential in that year s curriculum and stress understanding of those concepts and skills it does not mean that the rest of the curriculum should be ignored but concrete understanding of basics preferable to rushing through multitude of topics arends 2007 teacher attend to student differences teachers need to be aware of all the differences of their students students learning styles levels of readiness needs and interests such information will help teachers to tailor their lessons to address needs and learning preferences of their students and make lessons accessible to them arenda 2007 in actual terms it means that teacher might include visual materials to address students who better learn visually due either to their learning style or disability such as powerpoint presentation of the foil multiplication for the same lesson teacher can have printed outlines for those students who prefer learning by reading knowledge of students interests can be used for crafting problems to practice.
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 4 of 9 teacher integrate instruction and assessment i believe this is one of the crucial elements of planning differentiated lesson the key for the teacher here is to stop seeing assessment as summative tool only but use it as formative tool as well for such assessment usually will provide teacher with valuable day to day information about students and their progress who might need extra help and who can be pushed further arends 2007 and levy 2008 while two students can fail to solve the same problem analyses of their solutions will show that they might have done two different mistakes and different areas have to be addressed with each to improve their understanding such assessment is not done through standardized testing although it can be used as well but rather through observation analyzes of home work and teacher made tests and one-on-one interviews with students teachers balance group and individual norms this element is a tricky one based on the information about students learning styles knowledge and interests teacher needs to figure out what kind of grouping will better suited for particular activity and/or topic anderson 2007 usage of buddy system only while being beneficial overall might on one hand low self-esteem of slow learners or students with special needs while on the other slow down and upset more advanced students always separating class into groups based on knowledge level might only increase separation and might be psychologically detrimental furthermore some students may be better suited to learn on their own hence teacher will have to consider groupings for different tasks carefully teachers modify content process and product this is the part where all other elements come together all the proponents of differentiated instruction agree that same curriculum should be taught to all students but the content itself might be different before expecting students to learn more complex ideas teachers need to make sure that students have a foundation of knowledge that will allow them to incorporate new building blocks.
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 5 of 9 thus amount of content that students are expected to learn should be tailored to their levels and needs this tailoring usually would be done after modeling /mini-lesson part during practice activities levy 2008 the example of such differentiated instruction or tailoring would be to teach multiplications of monomials first by using foil method and then allow weaker students to continue practicing with monomials while pushing more advance students to practice with second and third degree polynomials as both groups become proficient with their levels teacher would make content for both groups more complex based on their respective levels the process includes all the classroom activities that are created based on the knowledge of individual strengths and learning styles of the students their needs and abilities it would include strategies of teaching mini-lesson proper groupings students tailored activities and proper ways of assessment levy 2008 and anderson 2007 as mentioned above mini-lessons might include visual aids and outlines such additions would address the needs of the students with corresponding learning styles and intelligences as well as some students with disabilities there are also different grouping to consider as well grouping for problem solving can be done based on students interests ability levels buddy system or mixed based on ability to work together task themselves can be differentiated by groups as in example of follow up activity for polynomial multiplications while product in mathematics is considered by some to be final answer i tend to agree with levy that it is rather ability of students to demonstrate what they learned while ability to obtain final answer to the problem is important students should not be limited in ways of reaching such answer levy 2008 the beauty of mathematics is that a lot of school level problems have multiple solutions thus students have to be encouraged to obtain answers in any way they can and not in just some one particular way while some students might be comfortable getting second power of monomials by straight forward multiplication others might be more comfortable doing it by recalling newtonian formula for it.
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 6 of 9 differentiated instruction and students with disabilities since differentiated instruction is about crafting lessons so as to give any student an opportunity to successes it s well suited to address needs of students with disabilities and/or special needs as well since teaching such students is about modifying content and product same components that are outlined about are applicable to designing lessons in special education inclusion and general education classes where students with disabilities are present edyburn 2004 in classes with students with special needs teachers needs to know those needs and plan accordingly content can and should be differentiated for students with ld who are behind and students with ed who might be very bright students with asperger might be uncomfortable working in a large group but be able prosper with the carefully chosen buddy students who have problem writing can very well draw their solution of adding or subtracting fractions nielsen 2002 analyses i tend to agree with murray that not every child is destined to become a great mathematician or a rocket scientist but i also believe that all of them should know such essentials as number operations logical thinking and basic problem solving furthermore those students who are capable of learning more should be given such opportunity i will always remember my high school teacher who would open his black book and give those of us who though that they have full understanding of the topic a problem that would make us think harder thus differentiated instruction while teaching same basics to everyone would allow teaching more to the students who can or willing to learn personalized content might allow for more advanced students to created problems for the rest of the class and each other to further their own understanding knowledge of interests needs and learning styles might allow for creation of personalized problems and better groupings for example for students who interested in sports problems will be about sports for those who interested in history about history in terms of grouping teachers have to be very careful and use different groups
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 7 of 9 for different types of activities from personal experience i know that buddy grouping is working my uncle who was my mathematics teacher in ukraine in 5th and 6th grades would occasionally ask me to work together with struggling student most of the time while being able to help to such students i was improving my own understanding at the same time but on those few occasions when i either disliked the student i was paired with or student was not interested in learning i would get upset with such grouping sometimes grouping by current level would work for new material and to give more advance students an opportunity to work on more complicated problems see polynomial multiplication example while for logical problems and problems that require thinking around the corner other type of grouping based on knowledge of the students by the teacher and ongoing assessment will be better speaking of assessment i do believe in formative assessment and usage of summative assessment for formative needs as well every time teacher assesses students either through observation homework teacher made tests or one-on-one interviews received information can and should be used for creation of future lessons and differentiated activities however there is a problem of grading students who are working on contents of different levels of difficulty if two students are solving problems of different levels of difficulty and both solved all of their equations they would both deserve an a s but would those a s be equal on one hand it might discourage advance students from doing more while on the other giving false impression to other students and their parents one of the solutions here might be using grading system similar to the one employed by my middle school physics teacher through the one-on-one interviews each student was aware of his or her academic level comparable to the state standards and would get teacher made tests based on that level if everything was done correctly student would get grade slightly above his or her level and opportunity to get higher level test and grade next time for example if my teacher considered student to be a b level student he or she would get average problems versus hard or easy and have a chance of getting b if all of them would be solved
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 8 of 9 correctly such tests are designed to give each student an opportunity to show what they learned while being differentiated and personalized the drawback of such tests is that they are time consuming to create another problem would be that some students and/or their parents might consider such system to be labeling on the bright side such grading system makes students fully aware of what they are expected to know and teacher s grading policies and makes them responsible for their learning i also truly believe that students should be allowed to solve problems any way they can rather than in one particular way as long as they can explain how they got the answer that answer and solution should be accepted thus differentiated instruction technique appeals to me as a teacher and can be applied to teaching mathematics conclusion i tend to agree with levy that every good teacher has to practice some form of the differentiated instruction in their diverse class rooms with or without realizing it this technique is good in dealing with special needs students in the classroom as well yet i do not think that higher level mathematics topics such as trigonometry can be differentiated students can learn formulas by hart yet be still unable to choose right transformations i also do not think that other techniques like authentic learning should be discounted the technique can even fail if students and their parents would not cooperate students might be too unruly to work in any group configurations while parents can start thinking that differentiated content is another form of labeling one of the greatest jewish scholars and philosopher rambam once said that everything is good in moderation so too with differentiated instruction as long as it being used when ever appropriate and together with other techniques and with students and their parents cooperation differentiated instruction can make a difference in teaching and learning mathematics otherwise it will become another catch phrase like creative teaching without helping students to obtain knowledge.
yevgeniy pavlovskiy sped 671 page 9 of 9 reference arends r.i 2007 learning to teach 7th ed boston mcgraw hill nielsen l 2002 brief reference of student disabilities with strategies for the classroom california corwin press inc anderson k.m 2007 differentiating instruction to include all students preventing school failure washington:spring 2007 vol 51 iss 3 pg 49 6 pgs proquest document id 1260881661 edyburn d 2004 technology support for differentiated instruction journal of special education technology nashville spring 2004 vol 19 iss.2 pg 60 3pgs proquest document id 678445271 levy h.m 2008 meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction helping every child reach and exceed standards the clearing house washington mar/apr 2008 vol 81 iss 4 pg 161 4 pgs proquest document id 1453633641 burns m 2007 nine ways to catch kids up educational leadership nov 2007 vol 65 iss 3 pg 16-21 eric id ej779287 murray c 2008 leave this child behind new york post new york aug 17 2008 pgs 23 28-29.