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Differentiated Instruction: Making Informed Teacher Decision

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Meghan Montemurri

on 30 October 2013

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Transcript of Differentiated Instruction: Making Informed Teacher Decision

Differentiated Instruction: Making Informed Teacher Decisions
What is Differentiated Instruction?
According to the article:

Differentiated instruction allows all students to access the same classroom curriculum by providing entry points, learning tasks, and outcomes tailored to students' individual unique learning needs.
It is not a single strategy but rather an approach to instruction that incorporates a variety of strategies.
Why Is Differentiated Literacy Instruction Important?
Recently, school-based research studies have been conducted in which teachers were randomly assigned to either differentiate reading instruction based on students’ reading and vocabulary skills or to provide more effective, but not differentiated, instruction during their literacy block (Connor, 2011).
From kindergarten through third grade, students made greater gains when their teachers differentiated instruction, using small, flexible learning groups during a center, than students whose teachers provided high-quality but usually whole-class instruction.
The heart of effective differentiated instruction was understanding students’ skill profiles and matching amounts and types of instruction to each profile.
Presented by: Meghan Montemurri
By: Susan Watts-Taffe, Barbara Laster, Laura Broach, Barbara Marinak, Carol McDonald Connor, and Doris Walker- Dalhouse
What does differentiation mean?
Why is it important?
What does the research suggest about what works for differentiation?
In 2001, Tomlinson stated:
differentiating instruction can occur by focusing on
(1) the process by which students learn
(2) the products or demonstrations of their learning
(3) the environment in which they learn
(4) the content they are learning.
Differentiated Instruction has become increasingly more important since 2004 when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) introduced RTI. RTI assumes that literacy teachers differentiate with both the context of the general classroom (sometimes called Tier 1) and within the context of more specialized and targeted instruction or intervention (sometimes called Tier 2 and Tier 3).
Providing differentiated and responsive instruction is an important prerequisite to referring a child for special educational services.
"Because every child learns differently, and every child is different, the most effective instruction is designed to fit each learner"
- Connor et al., 2011
Flexible Grouping in a Primary-Grade Classroom
- Ms. Cooper, first grade teacher
How she used differentiated instruction during literacy:
1) Small group meetings with Ms. Cooper to read specific chosen books and have discussions
2) Small group work with a reading specialist who came to the classroom each morning for 45 minutes.
3) Various centers around the room
* Each group was strategically grouped to provide students with the best learning environment, designed to meet their needs, and for each student to share his or her own ideas.
Students who were not working with a teacher rotated through a selection of literacy centers such as
- magnetic word building on white boards
- literature-response writing in a journal
- leveled-book basket browsing
- word-study practice at the computer
- partner reading for fluency.
These centers were created by Ms. Cooper as component of her approach to differentiation, and they were carefully designed to provide differentiated learning experiences for her students.
Every week, Ms. Cooper met with each of her small groups three or four times, for 20-minute sessions. This gave each child effective small- group targeted instruction and had opportunities to engage in worthwhile literacy activities that met his or her own particular literacy needs.
Each group was reading a different text, that was expertly matched to the readers.
Knowing that her students were all different, learning at different rates; she continuously evaluated her students’ progress and considered their changing interests to keep her groupings flexible.
Assessment of Ms. Cooper's Room:
Very effective
Learned how each child reads and learns, what that child does well, and what he or she needs to learn next.
She gathered a great deal of data for each individual student through district assessments and by observation.
Each child felt comfortable to share answers and thoughts during small group time.

Evidence Based Practice of Ms. Cooper's Room:
Evidence has pointed to the importance of balancing whole- class instruction with small-group discussion (Wharton-McDonald, Pressley, & Hampston, 1998). Therefore, Ms. Cooper preferred to keep her whole-class literacy instruction to a minimum, using that time primarily for interactive read- alouds and brief mini lessons on targeted topics.

Ideas to Apply:

-Assess students carefully and regularly using a variety of formative assessment tools
-Decide on a differentiation strategy and modify the process, the materials, the environment, the product, or a combination of these
-Organize the literacy block to accommodate small groups of children learning together.
-Match texts to readers

Differentiating Using a Continuum of Graphic Organizers in an Intermediate Classroom
- Mrs. Manley, fourth-grade teacher
Her students represent a range of literacy achievement, including:
1) four children receiving reading intervention from a reading specialist
2) two students who receive gifted services
3) one child with a moderate hearing loss
4) three students with specific learning disabilities
All students read two informative essays about emperor penguins and giraffes and compared and contrasted the differences between the two animals.
All students were then asked to independently construct a paragraph summarizing their similarities and differences between different animals.
Ms. Manley used DIFFERENT graphic organizers to grade the students, based on variation in student needs.
Text maps, pattern guides, retelling pyramids, and question guides (Marinak & Gambrell, 2008) were used to provide support for students.
Using a variety of differentiated graphic organizers, all the students in Mrs. Manley’s class were able to discuss the similarities and differences between Emperor penguins and giraffes and construct a summary paragraph using four important attributes from the text.
Assessment of Mrs. Manley's Room:
Differentiated the PROCESS of instruction vs. the PRODUCT of instruction (summary paragraph)
This allowed students to get to the final product in a variety of ways.
Differentiation is marked by evidence-based practice, ongoing assessment, and gradual release of responsibility
Her differentiation is characterized by collaboration with colleagues and a focus on some of the key components of text structure.
Collaboration with Colleagues in Mrs. Manley's Room:
Mrs. Manley and her colleagues, including the school’s reading specialist, have the time and space to work collaboratively on a regular basis
Conversations with the reading specialist showed Mrs. Manley the importance of sharing a wide variety of informational text with her students, as well as her understanding of the ways in which many students struggle to comprehend nonfiction texts.
Together they came up with the continuum of organizers used to graphically represent text ranging minimal support for students to providing a more explicit and sequenced scaffold.
Ideas to Apply:
- Clearly define the outcome students should accomplish
- Look carefully at your formative data to determine each student’s strengths and needs relative to the desired outcome
- Carefully describe the range of student needs
- Consider the array of differentiation strategies you might use to scaffold your students toward the outcome
- Offer differentiation that is consistent with individual student needs
Standard #3: Learning Environments
The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation.
PSMT 4f. Use a variety of teaching methodologies and techniques (e.g. lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, cooperative learning, small group activities, and technology enhanced lessons) and objectively assess the effectiveness of various instructional approaches and teacher actions for impact on student learning.
CSET 2.3 Collaboratively implement individualized education programs for students with disabilities
CSET 3.3 Know a variety of instructional strategies, such as direct instruction, collaborative groups, and cooperative learning to achieve effective learning for all students, including the appropriate use of technology and assistive technology
PSMT 6f. Participate with professional educators, school personnel, and other stakeholders in collaborative and cooperative planning, decision making, and implementation, to improve educational systems at all levels.
3(e) The teacher uses a variety of methods to engage learners in evaluating the learning environment and collaborates with learners to make appropriate adjustments.
3(l) The teacher understands how learner diversity can affect communication and knows how to communicate effectively in differing environments.

- Very informative
- Differentiated instruction is rarely used in classrooms but should be implemented more
- Provided numerous examples and ways to differentiate instruction
- The article discussed collaborative, group and individual programs for students to learn
- Discussed effective learning for all students
- Helpful for future teachers to see the importance of differentiated instruction in the classroom

- Split up into groups of four
- Create an overview of a differentiated lesson in either reading, science, or math.


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