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Strategies for Differentiated Teaching and Learning

Key Principles of Effective Differentiation. Analyze the five key principles of effective differentiation and discuss which of the five will be the most difficult for you to embrace with a ―fluid or ―growth mindset.‖ What are the obstacles you see that will inhibit implementing the principles in your current or future educational setting? Which of the five is the easiest to accept? Why?

Guided Response: Review at least two of your classmates’ postings and suggest ways that may help them change their fixed mindset about the principle that is difficult for them to embrace. Share examples from your own educational experience that address any of the five principles.

Educational Neuroscience. Educational neuroscience is an exciting new discipline that brings together research from psychology, neuroscience and pedagogy to help educators make the best curriculum, instructional and assessment choices for effective learning. Locate an article in the Ashford Online Library that investigates findings from cognitive and neuroscientific research. Provide a brief summary of the article and explain how the findings could be translated into what educators do in schools and classrooms. Do the findings support differentiated teaching and learning? Why or why not?

Brain Research Supports Differentiation. In a three- to five-page paper (not including title and reference pages):

a. Analyze how neuroscientific research findings and recent discoveries regarding how the brain learns support differentiation in the classroom.

b. Discuss how insights into the learning process affirm the importance of differentiation.

c. Explain how the research findings can be translated into specific teaching strategies used in the classroom.

Your paper must include title and reference pages, include at least two scholarly resources (in addition to the course text), and be formatted according to APA style guidelines as outlined in your approved APA style guide or the Ashford Writing Center.

Carefully review the Grading Rubric located in the online course for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.

Fluid and Fixed Mindsets. Souza and Tomlinson (2011) explain, “Mindsets are the assumptions, expectations, and beliefs that guide our behavior and our interaction with others”(p. 19). A teacher’s mindset is of utmost importance in the differentiated classroom. Think about your least favorite teacher and consider what their mindset must have been. Share how you felt in the class and how the teacher’s mindset affected your own well-being and academic success as a student. How did this teacher’s mindset affect his or her teaching? What advice would you give this teacher to help change his or her mindset? Or, think of your own mindset and how it affects the students in your classroom. Do you have a fixed or fluid mindset? Are there areas where you need to improve or change your mindset? What specific strategies can you implement to make your teaching more effective?

Effective Differentiated Curriculum. Visit the Discovery Education: Lesson Plan Library website and locate a lesson plan that represents the grade level and subject area you are teaching or are interested in teaching. In your discussion, post a link to the lesson plan that you have selected. Next, answer the following:

a. Is the lesson constructed so students will be consistently aware of what they should know, understand, and be able to do? Provide examples from the lesson to support your answer. If the lesson plan is not constructed in that manner, how will you change it to make students consistently aware of what they should know, understand and be able to do? Provide examples of the changes you would make.

b. Does a substantial portion of the work assigned help students make meaning of what they are trying to learn? Provide examples from the lesson to support your answer. If the work assigned does not help students make meaning, how would you change the assignments? Provide examples of the assignments you would modify.

c. How does the work that the students are asked to do support them in becoming thinkers and problem solvers? Provide examples from the lesson to support your answer. If the work does not support students in becoming thinkers and problem solvers, how would you modify the assignments? Provide examples of your modifications.

Welcome Activity. Imagine it is the first day of school and you are welcoming a whole new set of students to class. Create your own welcoming activity for the first day of school that demonstrates how you will incorporate differentiation through a growth mindset. You are not limited to any particular format, but you must address the following:

a. How you will provide a safe and secure classroom climate

b. How you will provide a positive learning environment

c. How you will meet the social and emotional needs of your students

d. How you will foster a sense of student ownership

e. How you will create empathy with your students

f. How you will provide students opportunities to succeed

g. How you will eliminate student fear of failure and humiliation

Be creative! You can produce a document, you can create a video, a PowerPoint, a lesson, or you can come up with your own way to meet the requirements. Whatever you choose to create, provide access to your instructor by uploading all the necessary links or text in a document. There is not a page or length requirement for this assignment, as that will limit your creativity. In whatever you create make sure you have addressed all the required topics listed above. Provide the proper APA citation for any sources that you use and include a title page and reference page(s).

Effective Assessment. Provide an example from your own classroom or from your past educational experience of effective assessment. What elements made it effective? Did it lead to improved teaching and learning? Why or why not? What was its overall purpose? Next provide an example of ineffective assessment. What elements made it ineffective? What were the results of the assessment? Did it hinder your learning? Lower you confidence as a learner? Change your motivation?

Summative Assessment. There are two types of summative assessments, those that assess rote-knowledge skills and those that assess higher-level executive functions. Using the information in your text and from your own educational experience, develop an argument that supports the use of both types of summative assessments. Explain and defend the appropriate use of each type of assessment. Finally, express your opinion on the use of high stakes testing (tests attached to funding) to assess rote-knowledge skills on a national scale. Is the assessment valid? Is it appropriate? Does it increase student learning?

Assessment and Differentiation. For this assignment you will need a lesson plan or unit that includes an assessment. You may use one of your own, create a new one, or modify one that you find. Make sure the assessment contains all the elements of effective assessment and then explain or provide measures to show:

a. How it aligns to the essential knowledge, understanding, and skills of the targeted learning outcomes.

b. How students will be absolutely clear of those targeted learning outcomes

c. Why it is the right kind of assessment to measure what needs to be measured

d. Why it is a fair sample of the content to be assessed

e. How it emphasizes what matters most in the topic of study

f. How it works for the students who will use it

g. How it will provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know, understand, and can do

h. How you will provide clear and effective feedback

i. How it will lead to improved instruction

j. How students will benefit from the assessment

Make sure to identify the grade level and content area as well as appropriate learning outcomes or objectives that are being assessed. There is not a page or length requirement for this assignment; however be sure to address all elements listed above, and provide the proper APA citation for any sources that you use. Include a title page and reference page(s).

Student Readiness. After reading Chapter Five of the course text, create a checklist of the nineteen guidelines for differentiating curriculum in response to student readiness as a separate document. You can group the guidelines in whatever way makes the most sense for you. You are creating the checklist to keep as a tool for use in your current or future classrooms. Once you have created the checklist, upload the document in the Doc Sharing tool in the online classroom (please see the Course Materials section of the online course for a brief Doc Sharing video tutorial). In the discussion post, identify which five guidelines will be the most difficult for you to follow and explain why. Choose an additional five guidelines that will be the least difficult for you to follow. Explain why. Include an example of how you will implement the strategies suggested in those guidelines.

Student Interest. After watching the talks by Sir Ken Robinson (TED Talk – Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity, and TED Talk – Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution!), answer the following questions:

a. Does differentiation make the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher? Why or why not?

b. Describe a time when you were working on something or learning about something and it felt like time flew by. How will you create that same experience for students?

c. How will you identify potential high-interest areas in your subject?

d. How will you build interest-based options in your curriculum?

Differentiated Instruction for Student Readiness. For this assignment you will need a lesson plan or unit that includes measurable learning outcomes. You may continue to use the lesson plan from Week Three, or you can create a new one or modify one that you have found. Provide and explain differentiated teaching strategies that are appropriate for a variety of students at different levels of readiness. Your strategies must align to the learning outcomes. Make sure to include the following:

a. Differentiated access

b. Differentiated process

c. Differentiated product

d. Differentiated content

Remember to identify the grade level, lesson plan, and content area, as well as appropriate learning outcomes and all possible levels of student readiness. There is not a page or length requirement for this assignment, however be sure to address all elements listed above, and provide the proper APA citation for any sources that you use. Include a title page and reference page(s).

Learning Style Debate. The four aspects of learning profile are controversial. Highly respected researchers argue vigorously for the existence of cognitive styles or intelligence preferences. Other noted psychologists argue that the construct of cognitive style or intelligence preference makes little sense in terms of learning. In this discussion, we will briefly debate the validity of both arguments. First, find your assigned ―Debate Group‖ below.

Debate Grouping (by first letter of last name):

A-L: For cognitive styles or intelligence preferences

M-Z: Against cognitive styles or intelligence preferences

Debate Process:

Using the information in the course text and from additional sources in the Ashford Online Library, develop an argument that supports your assigned side and post it to the discussion. Then respond to at least one peer from the opposite group with a critical evaluation of his or her argument. Propose one or more counter-examples to highlight weakness of the disputed argument, or ask for additional evidence to support the viewpoint. Finally, post your own (personal) opinion based on the arguments, research and your own experience(s). Explain what you believe is the best way to differentiate for cognitive styles or intelligence preferences.

Culture and Gender. Share with your classmates how you believe your own culture and gender influence your teaching and learning. Do you believe your gender served as an advantage or a disadvantage in your own academic experience? How about your culture? Explain how you will account for the ways in which gender may affect your students’ learning. How will you adapt your teaching so that your classroom will be a good fit for students from all backgrounds?

Differentiating for Learning Profile. For this assignment you will need a lesson plan or unit that includes measurable learning outcomes. You may continue to use the lesson plan from previous weeks, create a new one, or modify one that you have found.

For this assignment, make sure to address the following:

a. Explain and provide possible differentiated teaching strategies (aligned to the learning outcomes) that are appropriate for a variety of students with different learning profiles.

§ Differentiated process

§ Differentiated product

§ Differentiated content

b. Explain how you will create a classroom that supports multiple ways to learn.

c. Discuss how you will add variety to your teaching.

d. Describe how you will help students develop a repertoire of approaches to learning.

e. Explain how you will help students develop the self-awareness needed to distinguish when an approach is working for them versus when they should change their approach.

Remember to identify the grade level and content area, as well as the learning outcomes and all possible levels of student readiness. There is not a page or length requirement for this assignment, however be sure to address all elements listed above, and provide the proper APA citation for any sources that you use. Include a title page and reference page(s).

Orderly-Flexible Learning Environments. Our text describes four kinds of classroom environments that stem from teacher management beliefs and styles. Orderly-flexible learning environments are most likely to support differentiated instruction. Choose one of the following three kinds of classroom environments:

a. Dysfunctional learning environments

b. Adequate learning environments

c. Orderly-restrictive learning environments

Provide an example for your classmates. You can find a video that shows the environment and post the link, create a case study scenario that describes the environment, or you can relate an actual classroom from your own academic experience that employed the environment. Next, describe the skills the teacher will need to learn to change to an orderly-flexible learning environment. Lastly, reflect on the skills you will need to develop in order to maintain an orderly-flexible learning environment.

Personal and Professional Growth. As you reflect on this course, what assumptions about differentiated instruction have been confirmed? Have others been challenged? Which? What steps will you take to modify your teaching strategies now or in the future? What specific goals will you set for becoming a more academically responsive teacher? What do you believe is the best piece of advice you can give yourself and others when it comes to differentiated instruction?

Focus of the Final Project

To create your Final Project you will be designing your own Professional Development Plan. You will need to create a step-by-step timeline that shows your commitment to personal and professional growth in creating academically and culturally diverse classrooms.

Instructions for the Final Project

Using the exercises for personal and professional growth from Chapters Two through Eight of the course text, create an eight- to ten-page (not including title and reference pages) document that includes at least two goals from each of the following areas:

1. Mindset, learning environment and differentiation

2. Curriculum and differentiation

3. Assessment and differentiation

4. Student readiness and differentiation

5. Student interest and differentiation

6. Student learning profile and differentiation

7. Managing a differentiated classroom

Make sure to include the timetable for meeting the goals and a thorough explanation of how the goals will be met. Address any obstacles that may keep you from reaching your goals and what you will do to overcome them.

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