Monday, October 13, 2008

Differentiated Instruction

The headline is a link that will probably better explain the concept of differentiated instruction than I am about to, but after a heated debate with my school's literacy coach on Friday, I've decided to give it a shot.

The idea behind differentiated instruction is that students are able to complete activities that are on their own learning level and based on their own learning style, even within one class.

Let me provide some background to our discussion on Friday. We were talking about the once-weekly writing classes that I teach and their overall effectiveness. My point was that it is difficult to teach the concepts of grammar and writing with one class period per week and that the students need more direct instruction than what is available. Fortunately, or unfortunately, our literacy coach got the brunt of my frustration. I expressed my concerns that 45 minutes a week was not enough to see significant improvement in writing. She suggested that I try differentiating my instruction to try and move forward.

Well, after a few days to mull over her response, which I wasn't very happy about, I have decided to give it a try. Starting tomorrow, my writing students will receive "top secret" folders with a variety of activities in them according to the students writing levels based on an assessment I gave them at the beginning of the year. The assignments are aligned with state standards (I hope), and encourage students to complete as much as possible. There's even a reward for those who complete all of the assignments!

We'll see how this goes.

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