Title

Differentiating Instruction: Challenges of the Secondary Classroom

First Presenter's Institution

Dalton State College

Second Presenter's Institution

Dalton State College

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This presentation supports the “HEAD”: Academic Achievement & Leadership strand of the NYAR Conference in that the effective use of differentiated instruction helps teachers close achievement gaps and promote learning for all children and youth.

Brief Program Description

Today, teachers are responsible not only for meeting the diverse needs of all students but also for ensuring improved educational outcomes. Accordingly, school personnel are seeking proven ways to strengthen traditional classroom practices. This presentation will include key elements of differentiated instruction teaching as they apply specifically to instruction in grades 6-12.

Summary

Many educators believe that differentiation is a new concept; however, Anderson (2007) suggests that differentiation has been part of the American fabric since the days of one-room schoolhouses where one teacher was responsible for teaching students of all grades and abilities. Differentiation is defined in Differentiating Instruction in Responsive Middle and High School Classrooms as an approach to teaching in which teachers proactively modify curriculum, teaching methods, resources, learning activities and student products to address the needs of individual students and small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in the classroom (Frey, 2012, p. 2). The whole process is based on differences among learners. These student differences include interests, background knowledge, and ability. The goal of differentiated instruction is to make classrooms more responsive to the needs, talents, and interests of students. If differentiated instruction works, why is it not in wider practice? The answer is not surprising. Most general educators feel ill prepared to teach students with diverse learning needs (e.g., Schumm & Vaughn, 1991, 1995). If students with disabilities are expected to reach higher general curriculum standards, they should be provided the opportunity to learn in classrooms where they can both access the general curriculum, and acquire the benefits of high expectations (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). Differentiating instruction is not a passing fad; it is a revolution - a fundamentally different way to teach students with diverse learning and behavioral needs. Although putting differentiated instruction into practice poses a tremendous challenge, the time and effort are well spent. This presentation will include specific secondary (6-12th grade) content ideas for differentiated instruction as take-home learning opportunities for participants of the conference.

Evidence

The current model for differentiated instruction is composed of a theoretical framework, four guiding principles, and seven essential beliefs. The theoretical framework that supports differentiated instruction is rooted in cognitive psychology and based largely on research on student achievement (McTighe & Brown, 2005). Supporting the framework are four guiding principles that relate to differentiating classroom practices: (a) a focus on essential ideas and skills in each content area, (b) responsiveness to individual student differences, (c) integration of assessment and instruction, and (d) an ongoing adjustment of content, process, and products to meet individual students’ levels of prior knowledge, critical thinking, and expression styles (Tieso, 2003; Tomlinson, 1999). Lending further credence to the model are seven basic beliefs (Tomlinson, 2000b): (a) same-age students differ markedly in their life circumstances, past experiences, and readiness to learn; (b) such differences have a significant impact on the content and pace of instruction; (c) student learning is heightened when they receive support from the teacher that challenges them to work slightly above what they can do independently; (d) student learning is enhanced when what they are learning in school is connected to their real-life experiences; (e) student learning is strengthened by authentic learning opportunities; (f) student learning is boosted when they feel they are respected and valued within the context of the school and community; and (g) the overarching goal of schooling is to recognize and promote the abilities of each student. On the basis of these assumptions, it is possible to think about differentiating instruction in three ways: Teachers can consider adjusting the content, process, or product of teaching and learning (Lewis & Batts, 2005; Nordlund, 2003). According to McLeskey and Waldron (2000), teachers can vary their expectations for task completion within a single lesson or across a unit of instruction. Many teachers make use of a variety of graphic organizers, reading materials at different levels of complexity, direct instruction in small groups, previewing, and scaffolding strategies (e.g., Tomlinson, 2001). All students benefit from a variety of instructional methods and supports and an appropriate balance between the challenge of instruction and the opportunity for success (Lawrence-Brown, 2004).

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Roben Taylor currently teaches at Dalton State College. Her research interests include differentiating instruction, responsive teaching, and students at risk. Dr. Taylor has over 20 years of teaching experience.

Dr. Jacquelyn Mesco currently teaches at Dalton State College. Her interests include community outreach projects involving improved literacy for students in poverty as well as Montessori learning.

Keyword Descriptors

differentiated instruction, high school, achievement gap

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

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Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

Differentiating Instruction: Challenges of the Secondary Classroom

Harborside East & West

Today, teachers are responsible not only for meeting the diverse needs of all students but also for ensuring improved educational outcomes. Accordingly, school personnel are seeking proven ways to strengthen traditional classroom practices. This presentation will include key elements of differentiated instruction teaching as they apply specifically to instruction in grades 6-12.