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Differentiated Instruction in the General Education Classroom - review of literature.

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Introduction

Richard Chechilo Jr. Professor Leslie Roth Research Paper October 18th, 2011 http://specialed.about.com/od/integration/a/root.htm In this particular article written by Jerry Webster, the focus is on what a well designed differentiated lesson will include. Webster breaks a differentiated lesson into different components such as a strong visual component, collaborative activities, peer coaching, a multi sensory approach, and different forms of assessment. When talking about having a strong visual component, Webster mentions how wonderful it is using online image searches and digital cameras to enhance your lesson. Webster talks about using cards for his autistic students to teach sight words, attributes and evaluate new vocabulary. He also talked about teaming up children to gather pictures for instruction. Having a strong visual component is essential in differentiating instruction in the general education classroom. Next Webster talks about the importance of having collaborative activities in your classroom. He mentions that one of the strongest reasons for inclusion is the fact that working across ability groups "pulls up" the lower functioning group. He talks about the importance of modeling proper collaboration work, as well as evaluating the process. I agree with his assessment that most students learn better from their peers, so collaboration is an important skill to teach in school to prepare them to be successful later in life. ...read more.

Middle

All in all, Willoughby feels that differentiated instruction does not happen by accident. It requires planning, commitment, and acknowledgment of the fact that diverse abilities, experiences, and interests have a tremendous impact on student learning. http://www.cast.org/system/galleries/download/ncac/DifInstruc.pdf In the next article I read by Tracey Hall, a senior research scientist at NCAC, she feels that the model of differentiated instruction requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and adjusting the curriculum and presentation of information to learners rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum. She believes that there are several key elements that guide differentiation in the education environment. Hall believes that one of those key elements is content, and within content there are three elements of the curriculum that can be differentiated. Those three elements are instruction is concept-focused and principle-driven, align tasks and objectives to learning goals, and there must be several elements and materials used to support instructional content. The next key element that she focuses on is the process of differentiating your instruction. Hall breaks down the process into two main factors: flexible grouping being consistently used, and classroom management that benefits teachers and students. The last elements that Hall believes are key to implementing effective differentiated instruction are the products. Hall breaks down the products into three components that consist of: initial and on-going assessment of student readiness and growth are essential, students are active and responsible explorers, and vary expectations and requirements for student responses. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall, the results of this study found that the general education programs are not preparing teachers for the increase in diversity of the children they are teaching. The next part of the article focused on what differentiated instruction is and what differentiated instruction is not. What differentiated instruction is according to Rutledge is more qualitative rather than quantitative. Differentiated instruction is more proactive rather than reactive. Differentiated instruction is student centered and is engaging, relevant and interesting, it's rooted in assessment, provides multiple approaches, dynamic, and is a blend of small group, whole class and individual instruction. In the last part of the article, Rutledge discusses flexible grouping. She refers to flexible grouping as a critical component of the process. Rutledge says when cooperative learning is implemented correctly, five defining elements are present; positive interdependence, face to-face interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small group skills, and group processing. She also mentions how ability grouping students has different effects depending on your ability. Grouping low kids together usually has worse results because low kids perform worse when grouped with other low kids. The difference is that grouping medium and high kids together usually benefits them because they work off each other and it motivates them to do better. Summary In conclusion, Differentiated instruction, is the process of ensuring that what a student learns, how he/she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he/she has learned is a match for that student's readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning. ...read more.

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