100-word response 1 reference
Just like any classroom, differentiated or not, you must first build your community, put into place your authority, and then learn about your students. This can take from a few days to a couple of weeks, but these are probably going to be some of the first few challenges you will have to overcome before you can start teaching to each students needs and levels.
Once those hurdles have been met, we need to find out where are students are in the class. Remember, differentiated instructions is about framing the house and then building into it what you want to get out of it. So, finding where kids are struggling and which children need more dedicated attention will be step two. You cannot force a marble countertop to be granite, so make sure you know what you are buying before you put it in your kitchen.
Step three in the blue prints, figuring out your content and process; these are the elements that will define the what and how of your instruction. Marcus Guido (2021) has published a good list of differentiated instruction strategies, but my favorite is student interviews. It probably seems like a no brainer, when you are two to three weeks in you have probably taught a variety of lessons using different styles. So, it only makes sense that you should be able to interview students and find out what their favorite lessons were. Once you have done that, you should have a decent idea of which learning styles your students prefer, or at the very least what lessons you did not teach well.
I would probably at this point create a few learning-style groups within the classroom, I could cater lessons to those student-groups. What I would be hoping to find out is whether or not I got the learning styles right, I would check this with an exit ticket or green light style formative assessment near the end of the lesson; I would take notes on those students who may not have fully understood the concepts and try to place them in another learning group. It is probably worth mentioning that most people have two learning styles, so figuring out what styles work best for them could be tricky depending on the age of the students.
As students get older, some of them have already figured out how they learn best and can study in this manner, but it never hurts to poll students and ask them how they like to study and what type of lessons they enjoy the most. I am very much a reading/ writing style learner, so flash cards and notes were best for me in school.
You can continue of the process of refining your groups, but you can also include multiple learner styles into your classes; though this can be difficult depending on the subject or subjects you teach. Since I was an ESL teacher, I was able to incorporate a lot of different styles simply because I needed to teach all the aspects of a language and using all the sense was a must.
Finally, putting it all together; product. You have your curriculum (maybe even a co-teacher), your lessons and you have mostly figured out your students, you have tweaked and changed lessons to fit each group of students you have identified. Now you can start quizzing and testing students using different methods to make sure they have learned the content. According to Tomlinson teachers should include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic options as well as analytic, creative, and practical style assessments to give students a variety of ways to demonstrate their knowledge. This is probably where I would struggle the most, one I hate testing and assessments. Two, I would rather play a game to make sure everyone learned what they needed. However, assessments whether formative or summative need to be accomplished, so it makes sense that we should all be able to learn and test differentially.