The process of differentiation is challenging for educators, as it requires developing skills to teach in a flexible manner that responds to the unique needs of learners. Often total lessons or the pace of individual lessons need to be adjusted "on-the-fly." Teacher-led group instruction is only one model of instruction. So, teachers also need to know about additional resources beyond what's in the textbook or available in print format that can be used to help learners. For example, students can also learn from each other in collaborative groups, or from virtual instructors in online settings, or by working alone using software or apps. They can get different perspectives on a topic from viewing podcasts.
The goals of differentiated instruction and innovative traditionalism are to ensure effective learning for all. Best practice learning adheres to 13 principles. Best practice is student-centered, experiential, holistic, authentic, expressive, reflective, social, collaborative, democratic, cognitive, developmental, constructivist, challenging with choices and students taking responsibility for their learning (Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 1998, as cited in Wilcox & Wojnar, 2000).
Acquiring this expertise will require that educators play greater attention to differentiated instruction. "Differentiated instruction is a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is, and assisting in the learning process." Educators who differentiate instruction strive to "recognize students varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning, interests; and to react responsively" (Hall, Strangman, & Meyer, 2003, Definition section). As promoters of differentiated instruction, Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe (2006) indicated that it is primarily an instructional design model that focuses on "whom we teach, where we teach, and how we teach" (p. 3). Tomlinson's website, , will enhance your knowledge of differentiated instruction. She also clarifies myths and misconceptions about differentiation in an ASCD podcast,.
The notion of repertoire is a key aspect of this approach. Practitioners build up a collection of images, ideas, examples and actions that they can draw upon. Donald Schon, like John Dewey (1933: 123), saw this as central to reflective thought.
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From an instructional styles perspective, Silver, Strong, and Perini (2007) noted that teachers who use mastery strategies focus on increasing students' abilities to remember and summarize. "They motivate by providing a clear sequence, speedy feedback, and a strong sense of expanding competence and measurable success." When focusing on interpersonal strategies, teachers use "teams, partnerships, and coaching" to help students better relate to the curriculum and each other. Understanding strategies help students to reason and use evidence and logic. Teachers "motivate by arousing curiosity using mysteries, problems, clues, and opportunities to analyze and debate." Self-expressive strategies highlight students' imagination and creativity. Teachers employ "imagery, metaphor, pattern, and what ifs to motivate students' drive toward individuality and originality." Finally, it's possible to use all four styles at the same time to achieve a balanced approach to learning (sec: Part One: Introduction, Figure B).
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Theroux (2004) addressed four ways to differentiate instruction: content (requires pre-testing to determine the depth and complexity of the knowledge base that learners will explore), process (leads to a variety of activities and strategies to help students gain knowledge), product (complexity varies in ways for assessing learning), and manipulating the environment or accommodating learning styles. Fairness is a key concept to emphasize with learners, who will recognize that not everyone will work on the same thing at the same time. They need to appreciate that not everyone has the same needs. Likewise, Hall, Strangman, and Meyer (2003) presented a graphic organizer within their work, which they called the Learning Cycle and Decision Factors Used in Planning and Implementing Differentiated Instruction and also provided a number of links to learn more about this topic. ASCD has multiple.