The Importance of Differentiation to Meet Student Needs

What is the importance of identifying the learning profiles, interests, and levels of readiness of students in planning for instruction?

Identifying the specific learning profiles and needs of students helps teachers design lessons that allow students to engage with the content in an energetic, enthusiastic, and individualized fashion.

“When a topic connects to what students like to do, engagement deepens as they willingly spend time thinking, dialoging, and creating ideas in meaningful ways.”(mccarthy).

In order to implement meaningful differentiation teachers must:

  • Know student strengths
  • Involve student’s in planning process
  • Embed student choice in the process
  • Evaluate and make changes when necessary

 

Differentiation Strategies Mind Map

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(Visit Mind Map Here)

How will I learn about my students’ learning profiles, interests, and levels of readiness?

There are several types of strategies I would consider when trying to learn about my students. All of these strategies can be used to more effectively differentiate lessons as well as help the students understand themselves better.

“Matching learning profiles with student interest allows learners to process understanding of concepts through different modalities based on their own experiences” (mccarthy).

Student Profile Cards

The first possibility is to have them fill out short profile cards with information about their interests. While learning about what interests students have outside of school, these cards also depict how students view themselves and their abilities.

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Student Learning Profile Quick Surveys

Along with Learner Profile cards, I might consider using profile quick surveys to help my students understand what type of learners they are throughout the semester. When implementing a Learning Menu type of activity, students will be better equip to choose specific tasks appropriate to their needs.

Sternberg 2.pngLearning_Styles 2.pngThinking_Styles 2.png

(from: http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/07/slp-quick-surveys/).

Myers Briggs Personality Test

Another strategy I would consider, depending on the age of the students, is the Myers Briggs personality test. This could be administered at the beginning of the school year. It would be helpful as the teacher to know the various personality types in the classroom. But more importantly, this could be a beneficial tool for encouraging discussion between students about how to embrace the similarities and differences we all share.

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Personality Types Through Literature

Another possible option is to use literature to spur on discussion about the differences and similarities between people. Talking with students about inclusion, diversity, and acceptance is key to creating a classroom of compassion and caring.

An example of a book I might read to my students to initiate discussion might be The Treasure Tree.

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Along with all of these types of strategies I will be utilizing ongoing assessments to determine whether of not student profiles need reevaluation or alteration.

Each child is unique with individual educational needs and it is the teachers responsibility to address these needs in creative ways that will encourage students to successfully meet all learning objectives. Knowing the readiness, learning types, and interests of students equips the teacher with the necessary tools to create successful lessons.

Why did I choose the teaching strategies that I did to meet the needs of my students?

I chose two strategies, that were new to me, but that I would like to implement because of their versatility, creativity, and inclusion of student choice. They are:

Learning Centers – This strategy requires students to move from center to center.  Centers can be designed to meet the needs of kinesthetic students, Gifted students, low level students, and students with other needs. The versatility and of this technique is beneficial, and it allows students to choose between stations to fit their individualized interests.

Learning Menus – This strategy gives students multiple options and embeds choice into the learning process. They complete 1 of the appetizers, 1 of the entrees, and one of the dessert activities to interact with the content in a well-rounded, yet individualized manner.

I aspire to be effective, but also efficient by choosing techniques that are helpful for students across multiple need areas. For example, breaking instructions down into simple and concise steps not only helps those with learning difficulties but also ELL students. Just as including visuals with instructions is not only helpful for ELL children but visual learners as well.

It is the teachers responsibility to facilitate learning and help students meet their learning goals. Hopefully, by employing some or all of the techniques I have mentioned above, I will set my classroom on the path to success.

Sources

How Learning Profiles Can Strengthen Your Teaching | Edutopia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/learning-profiles-john-mccarthy
Learning Profile Cards » Opening Paths. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/01/learning-profile-cards/
Student Learning Profile Quick Surveys » Opening Paths. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/07/slp-quick-surveys/
Learning Interest Matters – Edutopia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-learner-interest-matters-john-mccarthy
6 Good Tools to Differentiate Instruction » Opening Paths. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://openingpaths.org/blog/2014/08/five-good-tools-di/
Students Matter: 3 Steps for Effective Differentiated Instruction. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/3-steps-effective-differentiated-instruction-john-mccarthy
image: http://personalitygrowth.com/what-each-myers-briggs-mbti-type-was-like-as-a-child/
image: http://personalitygrowth.com/what-each-myers-briggs-mbti-type-was-like-as-a-child/
image:
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