Differentiation

Discussion in 'General Education' started by otterpop, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Feb 12, 2018

    How much do you differentiate?

    I teach mostly whole group and help those who need help as necessary. It seems to me that this is what most teachers do, at least where I've worked. The exception to this in my experience would be primary teachers doing Daily 5 or guided reading groups.

    There's an article on edweek.org (https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/01/07/differentiation-doesnt-work.html) that claims differentiation doesn't work.

    From the article:
    In a winter 2011 Education Next article, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's Michael Petrilli wrote about a University of Virginia study of differentiated instruction: "Teachers were provided with extensive professional development and ongoing coaching. Three years later the researchers wanted to know if the program had an impact on student learning. But they were stumped. 'We couldn't answer the question ... because no one was actually differentiating,' " the researcher, Holly Hertberg-Davis, told Petrilli.​

    I'm wondering, what do you all think about this?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  3. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

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    Feb 12, 2018

    I'm student teaching in an 8th grade math classroom and my mentor teacher and I do not do much differentiation (unfortunately). We usually support lower students who need help when working on the classwork. I have also been making extension activities for students who finish classwork early and need to be challenged. I'm not sure how to effectively differentiate in a middle school classroom.
     
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  4. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    My only question is why differentiation requires the same classroom for different students?

    Where I teach, we have grades, which usually denote academic achievement. This is defined through grades that students receive.

    Why the emphasis on classrooms for students who do not share the same level of academic achievement?
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Feb 13, 2018

    OP, is this your experience?
     
  6. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    I differentiate as necessary, whether it is prepping modified tasks, asking more/less scaffolded questions, asking/doing more/less higher order tasks etc. I mean when we get to know the students, we know when and how to help those who need it more/less. By and large it works well. If there are students who really need the help, I help them one on one on my lunch breaks.

    To be honest, there really isn’t much time to really differentiate in a way such as teaching in a way that caters to the different types of learning styles. And I personally don’t believe in doing that because I teach middle school and in high school they don’t do that. They teach in a set way, usually a chalk and talk way and the only goal is prepping those students for college. So I feel that if I differentiate to the different types learners, I may doing a disservice to those heading to the high school where no one cares about their learning styles or has the time to.

    I’m not one for streaming students but of course I don’t get a say in which student goes to which class. I think true streaming positively affects advanced students because they challenge each other to do better but has a negative impact on the class at the bottom rung. They don’t really have as large a gain as they could if they were in a class where some of the students were ‘higher’ and there are peers challenging them to try harder or not give up. I don’t have research to back this up but this is my personal experience with streaming. The second thing is it’s really really stressful dealing with a class of really really low students, especially without extra help. I feel badly for teachers teaching this class when I see how stressed they are and how much difficulty they are having because a lot of the class is not only low but has behaviour issues too. I’ve also had to teach the bottom class before and i think the unrelenting stress made me lose a few years of my life (I didn’t have extra support).
     
  7. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    Feb 13, 2018

    As a student teacher in kindergarten, I look at the student's work and capabilities and then decide..There have been select times where the assignment method has been done off the beaten path but the outcome of the objectives they were supposed to learn was the same.
     
  8. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I teach reading and math in small groups. Reading groups read different books, but I do try to focus on similar skills as much as I can. For example, this week all my groups are comparing and contrasting as well as finding supporting details in nonfiction texts. My math groups work on the same skill, this week it is dividing decimals, but the groups learn different strategies, use different manipulatively, and solve different problems.
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I have tried very hard to differentiate, but not so much lately because it seems I'm teaching more/kiddos are learning more when I let whole group be my staple. Oh, I still do reading groups and try to help different math mastery, but someone recently pointed out that by the three-tier model, a good chunk of your class is probably more or less on the same levels.
     
  10. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    That said, I think there is good theories behind differentiating. My niece is a third-grader in a three-room school house. Multiple grades are taught together, and even then it's much smaller than the typical classroom, being all rural and such. Each room has a a head teacher and a couple of TAs. About 8 kids per room. There is definteily more of what I would consider to be differentiation going on than in my own classroom. I don't think differentiation is the ideal when there is one teacher with 30 kids, or at least it generally isn't as effective. Part of the problem with differentiation not working is that teachers are told to differentiate, as the aritircle mentioned, but not actually taught how or given the resources to. The average classroom of one teacher and a bunch of kids is truly better set up for whole-group teaching than to differentiation. Streaming, for good or for bad, is really kind of a way to make sure kids are getting their individual needs met. It may sound all well and good to ask one teacher to "stream in class" multiple levels, but, let's face it, it's hard!
     
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  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 13, 2018

    It's really hard to give each individual student what he needs when there are 40 other students in the room. It's even harder when those 40+ students entered the class at widely different academic levels.

    More and more I would be in favor of grouping students into classes based on performance instead of age.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Where did you get that idea? That is so far from the truth. I do a lot of direct instruction. And a lot of group work. And a lot of explorations. A lot of foldables. Play a lot of games. Tomorrow I'm having two 2nd year middle school teachers come to observe my class so they can learn how to introduce variety into their plans.

    One of my goals is to prep students for college. The students that are likely to go to college. For some of my classes my goal is help them earn the credit they need to graduation. For some of the kids in those classes my goal is to cram enough information into their heads before they drop out that they are able to be partially scientifically literate.
     
  13. TeacherCuriousExplore

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    I do not know what age group you teach, but I have experience in Pre-Kindergarten. I do a lot of differentiation in small groups rather than in whole or large group because it is easier for me to focus on the students progress. I do not rotate small groups nor do I have a reading group or a math group. Some teachers do that but I incorporate language/reading readiness and Math readiness in one small group. For instance, group 1 will be doing a teacher-led math activity, group 2 will be doing emergent journal writing, group 3, will be doing phonemic awareness activity, and group 4 will be doing an art project. With my teacher led table, I switch up activities according to the group level of learning on a particular skill. I keep the other centers or learning areas the same throughout the week and switch up.
     
  14. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Comrade

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    I am not sure why you said that differentiation stops in high school? Being a teacher is to understand a student learning style because it will benefit you and the student. For one thing, you will be less stressed and the student will have a positive learning experience
     
  15. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Comrade

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    Sometimes it is best to go with the flow
     
  16. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 13, 2018

    To me, differentiation isn't just doing tons of small group work, and teaching tons of students individually.

    I build in differentiation through choice, and carefully planned ways of extending or simplifying our learning. For example, I purposefully developed math menus for each "strand" that challenge students to think deeper about 4th grade standards (as well as grow their problem solving). For some topics, I even have specific spots I push them further with -- in opinion writing, I teach some how to write an extra paragraph speaking to the opposite viewpoint of their. In multiplying numbers, we look at multiplying decimals by estimating where the decimal point would belong and then determining a rule.

    That differentiation also tends to be the level of support / independence I give them.

    In essence, I think we are definitely differentiating, even when it might not seem like it.
     
  17. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    I can’t speak for everyone only the students I teach that go to the high school connected to our school. 99% of my students go to that high school. I do lots of interesting things with them, everything you mentioned I do with my students and I differentiate accordingly.

    What I don’t do, because I don’t have time to prep for it and because I know this is not how they teach in the high school is differentiation according to the types of learners I.e. visual, auditory, read/write, kinaesthetic etc. Of course some times we do visual things, sometimes we do auditory things, sometimes we do chalk and talk and sometimes it’s hands on but we we do it as a class. I differentiate the activities I do according to student needs. But I don’t group the different types of learners together and teach the same thing different ways. This is not to say the high school doesn’t differentiate, it does, just not in this way. So I can’t and don’t do differentiation in this way either.
     
  18. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    I didn’t say differentiation stops at high school. I said they do a lot of chalk and talk in high school. They do differentiate in high school. Every teacher worth their weight has to. But what I was trying to say is that differentiation according to learning styles is not done. Teachers don’t get students to write a song about a concept or topic if they are a specific type of learner, students just have to learn in a specific style that the teacher teaches and this is mostly chalk and talk (in the high school that 99% of my students go to. I can’t speak for any other high school except the one I know).
     
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  19. 2ndTimeAround

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    Sure high school teachers do, rpan. Even though recent studies have shown that the learning styles that were so revered may not actually exist.

    How are you so sure that is what is happening in the school next door to you? If someone observed my classroom today, for even half the period, they would get a radically different view of how I run my classroom than if they came in on Friday.
     
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  20. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    Feb 13, 2018

    I am teaching 6-12 and I try to shake up the way I convey my lessons to reach different students at different levels and because I would personally get bored of the same routine. That being said, my high achievers learn no matter what I do and I wish I could have them in a completely different class to challenge them. I honestly feel I am holding them back. They will get done with activities or lessons half way through the hour and the whole time I am trying to help one on one with the strugglers ( which is 2/3 of the class, sadly) and they still don't finish. These are the same students at lol forget to put their name on a quiz! What is really awesome is when the high achievers take the initiative to help teach the strugglers. They re the next gen of teachers! But, I really wish they could be solving the worlds problems instead at a higher level!
     
  21. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    The word annoys me. Just teach and help students if they need it. We don't need edu-babble to guide us. I teach high school pre-calc, and a parent once emailed me to kindly suggest I differentiate my class more. I kindly suggested that her son do homework every once and a while and stop texting in my class, and that shut her right up.
     
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