Different Learners , Different Needs

Carolyn Coil has been in NZ this week working with teachers and school leaders sharing strategies and ideas about how to raise achievement for all students through differentiating teaching and learning.

In the 21st Century global village our children need to be able to achieve on a worldwide stage. This requires teachers to recognise that students have different needs and different interests, and must be taught in a myriad of different ways.

You need to consider things like :
·        The learning styles and modalities of individual students.
·        The pace of learning and the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task.
·        Cultural implications when dealing with school achievement.
·        Levels of ability and /or readiness.
·        And different ways to assess what students have learned.

When teachers can look at individual students, see their needs and plan appropriately to meet these needs, achievement happens. On the other hand, when teachers see students only as "members of my class" there is little individualised instruction and therefore success in learning is harder to achieve.

The good news is that there are many strategies teachers can use to differentiate their instruction. The best approach is to become familiar with a number of these strategies and decide which ones work best considering your students, your teaching style and the learning environment of your school.

Some examples of these strategies can be found in Carolyn’s book, Successful Teaching in the Differentiated Classroom 

Some tips from Carolyn to get you started... 

1.    Start small and work from there
Teachers sometimes become overwhelmed because there are so many strategies for    differentiation and therefore do nothing at all.
2.     Consult and plan with at least one other teacher
Decide on approach that will work for you and try something. Then get together to assess what worked and what didn't.
3.     Engage in professional learning
Find opportunities to learn more about differentiation, either attend a course, read a book or find online offerings.
4.     Approach differentiation both vertically and horizontally

The vertical approach is to look at year level expectations and decide if students need remediation or acceleration. 

The horizontal approach is to give the curriculum more breadth or more depth either through extensions of the regular curriculum or enrichment using student selected topics.

Carolyn says, “Taking the theory of differentiation and putting it into practice in your classroom or school,  is the best way I know to raise student achievement in the 21st century.
                  Start small, but just START...the key word is start. "

Find out more at  Learning Network NZ

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