August 6, 2012
There are no two students in a classroom with identical abilities, experiences, or needs. Learning style, background knowledge, readiness to learn, and other factors can vary greatly within a class. Regardless of individual differences, students are expected to master the same concepts, principles, and skills. Helping all students succeed in their learning is an enormous challenge that requires innovative thinking.
There is no single set of strategies that constitutes differentiated instruction. Instead, the practice rests on a set of principles that requires teachers to continuously assess students and adjust instruction. In a class where differentiated instruction is successfully implemented, teachers frequently rotate students into small groups based on demonstrated knowledge, interest, and/or learning style preferences. Instruction is targeted to the needs of each group with the aim of moving all students toward high levels of achievement ("A look at," 2009).
The lesson plan selected for the differentiated learning assignment is lesson five of a letter writing class for an adult GED classroom. The lesson teaches the differences between advocacy and lobbying. The primary focus of the lesson is to teach the student to write a thank you letter to a member of congress. The students are to thank the congressman for their focus on adult education, as well as allow the student to share their experiences as adult students.
Teachers provide a variety of options for students to take in and receive the content. It presents what the students need to learn and outlines how the students gain access to the information. It does not mean teaching different content; it means teaching the content differently by adjusting the levels of depth and complexity.
While direct instruction and lecture may work for those who are auditory learners, kinesthetic learners need hands on instruction and visual learners need visual aids. Because students may be at different levels and have different learning styles, teachers can use different methods to help facilitate learning. Providing pictures or examples of the material is helpful for visual learners, while recording the lecture is helpful for the auditory learner. Additionally, after the teacher has assessed each student, the teacher can ask questions that challenge those more advanced and ask easier questions for beginners. After the lecture is complete, students can pair up to “re-teach an idea or concept to struggling learners” (Tomlinson, 2012).
Providing visual aids, recording class discussions and allowing the advanced students to re-teach the ideas or concepts to struggling learners, students are actively participating in class. The re-teach concept uses the strengths of some students while helping other students learn and relate to the concepts being taught.
Differentiating Instructional Strategies
Currently, the lesson plan is set up to facilitate open discussion between the differences in lobbying and advocating. The discussion leads into how writing letters is a great way to communicate with public officials. Afterwards, there is a separate time allotted for the students to write a letter to a member in congress discussing adult education programs.
The methods used are effective; however, there are other methods more effective to accommodate different learning styles. First, the facilitator can break the classroom into two groups. One group can study and present information on lobbying. The other group can study and present information on advocating. Each member of the group can present information to the class as a teach-back opportunity.
Once the groups have delivered the learning material, the students can pair up with one another to practice writing the letter to congress. Each student can swap