Sep 3, 2008

Reasons to differentiate

More musings on my upcoming workshop:

When we use differentiation in the classroom we should have clear-cut objectives just as we should have objectives for everything we do in our classroom. Our objectives then guide us in our choice of how to best differentiate and which methods to use. When we keep our goals clearly in mind then we are able to reflect and analyze our own performance and the effectiveness of our strategies. Not only does this help us as individuals in our classroom, but it also provides a way to document the effectiveness of various intervention techniques for individual students.

What are some of the reasons we differentiate?

Medical - if a student has a medical reason to be unable to perform the same work or to learn in the same way as the other students.

Previous knowledge - Students come to us with different levels of knowledge. We can differentiate to accomodate students who have already mastered knowledge their peers are being introduced to, or for students who have not yet mastered material that is foundational to the work the class is preparing to do.

Processing speed - students are able to master material at different speeds. If a student is able to learn the material at a significantly faster or slower rate, then he or she ought to be accomodated in the classroom.

Strengths/weaknesses - (learning styles) we can use students' strongest academic skills to help scaffold and strengthen their weaker areas while also ensuring that they learn the material being presented in class.

Student interest - sometimes students can use a passion area to demonstrate skills or knowledge.

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