Friday, November 21, 2014
MzTeachuh: When GenEd and SpecEd Collaboration Really Works: ...: Differentiation can raise academic success as well as enhance the learning environment. Where to start? Get to know your students...
Where to start? Get to know your students.
Both GenEd and SpecEd have valuable data useful in differentiating the learning experience. The teachers can combine that data to generate a dynamic learning environment.
Frequently, districts use data summaries so that at one glance a student's info from annual testing is broken down in ELA and Math very specifically by the student's achievement on each standard. If your school uses Accelerated Reader, again, there is specific info on reading levels as well as interests. Accelerated math does the same. What a wonderful resource for GenEd to drive instruction. There are also benchmark tests and class results.
SpecEd has data resources, also. Information from the IEP testing reveals learning style preferences. Yes, there are styles of learning that are preferred. Actually, for just about everybody. But a student with a learning disability in auditory processing will learn more efficiently with visual content. A student with a visual processing disability will learn more effectively with auditory instruction. Makes sense, right? And the goals and objectives in the IEP give specific direction to academic instruction, not unlike what the lower 20% of each class may normally need to succeed. The students that don't qualify for Special Education can definitely benefit from instruction differentiated for Special Education students mainstreamed in the GenEd setting. You may not grade on a curve, but a bell-shaped curve exists in your classrooms. Differentiation benefits all students; even when you are concentrating on just one standard.
1. Power Lessons
Rotate subgroups of students through a rotation in your classroom while one teacher interacts with the other students during independant practice. Have the Power Lesson group near the white board so the second teacher can elaborate on questions about the work. Use 10 minutes, then rotate to the next group. Be sure to deviate the levels--this works for enhancement as well as reteaching. Power lessons are useful even on-the-spot when teachers discern the group didn't get the lesson, or planned regularly so the students expect more close instruction, maybe before a quiz or test. The teachers could ask the students what focus they want the Power Lesson to have depending on the content and need. The specific students can be swapped between group to group depending on the needs of the lesson. This is not a Special Education pull-out within the classroom. This is a very fluid and dynamic form of differentiation with Special Education and GenEd students learning together.
I love Power Lessons--they add academic as well as personal input.
2. Activities and Games
Learning continues during activities and games related to the content. Direct Instruction or involvement with technology are not the only opportunities to lock-in learning. Teachers can modify activities such as classroom Jeopardy games to include all students without humiliating or excluding anyone. Got any classroom artists? Get a Pictionary game going. Math teachers can use math vocabulary as topics. Group presentations create camaraderie between students and enhance ELA standards while reinforcing the lessons. Students take turns presenting. A nice break from the norm of input/output learning.
3. Student Choices with Homework and Projects
Differentiation can lean toward the student's interests, talents, and inclinations. We do need to conform to succeed in academia, but maybe not all the time. How will students recognize their strengths if not given choices? Keep the content, let the student occasionally choose the method of us demonstrating mastery of the content. Be creative in offering choices, teachers. Put your heads together--can the student create graphic organizers of the subject? Use cartoon frames? Write a dramatic interpretation? A commercial? Build a three dimensional representation? Order of Operations Rap? Break the monotony with the students using their strengths demonstrating the content in an interesting manner.
And to my Australian friends who are in Spring, please forgive me.
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