Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Differentiated Instructional Strategies - Ch. 1 & 2

Below are my notes from Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of:

Differentiated Instructional Strategies - One Size Doesn't Fit All
by Gayle H. Gregory & Carolyn Chapman

Chapter 1 - One Size Doesn't Fit All

As with clothing, one size doesn't fit all, so in classrooms one way is not the only way.
The challenge is how to reach the individual needs of each students.
Students bring their interests, personal experiences, and attitudes to each learning moment of every day in a classroom.
How does a teacher reach the diverse needs in a classroom today?

For years, we have planned the same lesson and taught it to all - knowing that we were boring some and losing others because they were not ready for that learning.

The standards and the needs of students should determine instructional decisions. Programs, materials, and resources should not determine the curriculum and instruction.

The mindset of teachers who are differentiating:
  1. All students have areas of strength.
  2.  All students have areas that need to be strengthened.
  3. Each student's brain is as unique as a fingerprint.
  4. It is never to late to learn.
  5. When beginning a new topic, students bring their prior knowledge base and experience to the learning.
  6. Emotions, feelings, and attitudes affect learning.
  7. All students can learn.
  8. Students learn in different ways at different times.

The Differentiated Classroom

A differentiated classroom is one in which the teacher responds to the unique needs of students.

Teachers can effectively differentiate the following:
  • Content
  • Assessment Tools
  • Performance Tasks
  • Instructional Strategies

Why Differentiate?

Through differentiation, we give all our students the opportunity to learn to their full potential.

Planning for Differentiating Instruction

  1. Establish what needs to be taught. Develop essential questions.
  2. Identify the content.
  3. Activate. Determine what students know and what they need to learn. Assess prior knowledge.
  4. Acquire. Decide what new knowledge and skills student need to learn and how they will acquire them to the level of understanding.
  5. Apply and Adjust. Give students the opportunity to practice and become actively engaged with the new learning.
  6. Assess. Have students demonstrate their knowledge. 


Chapter 2 - Creating a Climate for Learning

What Do Learners Need to Succeed?

For students to succeed, they need to believe that they can learn and that what they are learning is useful, relevant, and meaningful for them.

A teacher's mindset influences students' mindsets. Everything we say and do should give the message of possibility and influence the students' perception of their capabilities while fostering optimism and tenacity.


Classroom Culture and Learning Communities

Culture many not necessarily be conveyed only through words, but also through actions. Sometimes what we do screams so loudly that we can't hear what is being said.

Each learner must know that he or she is an important contributing member of the classroom.

Emotions and Learning

Students living in fear cannot learn.

Emotional intelligence is a person's ability to use his or her emotions intelligently.

Self-awareness is one's ability to sense and name a feeling when it happens.

Managing emotions is recognizing and labeling feelings and responding appropriately

Self-motivation is defined as competencies such as persistence, goal setting, and delaying gratification

Empathy is the ability to feel for another person.

Social skills are competencies that one used to "read" and manage emotional interactions.

Classroom Climate

In a differentiated classroom, students feel safe and secure enough to take risks and express their understanding or lack of understanding.

In a differentiated classroom, the emphasis is on knowledge base and experience rather than IQ or ability.

Learning includes weeding out what students know with effective pre-assessments and ongoing formative assessments.

Use pictures and music to enhance the classroom climate.

Celebrate learning.



Brainstorm ways you meet the individual needs of students.

Take a personal inventory of your use of differentiated instruction.

What are some ways you can create a classroom atmosphere in which students feel safe and can take intellectual risks?

How can you create an inclusive atmosphere in which students feel safe and included?

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