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Schools are driven by a deep belief that every student is capable of successful learning. Teachers as a result have closely monitored the progress of their students; identifying their learning difficulties and tailoring classroom activities to levels of readiness and needs. In their day-to-day teaching, classroom teachers place a high priority on identifying and addressing the learning needs of individual students. As such, their methods of delivery are means or ways that teachers use to teach material to their students.
Differentiation is the term for varying teaching delivery methods and instructional levels to suit students' individual needs and abilities. The concept of differentiation is based largely on the concepts of multiple intelligences and learning styles. The theory of multiple intelligences, originated by (Howard Gardner 1983), a Harvard Professor, refers to the various types of human intelligence: musical, logical/mathematical, verbal/linguistic, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual/spatial, and naturalistic. The theory of multiple intelligences is largely related to learning styles theory, which states that all students learn differently. When teachers incorporate a variety of learning styles, they are more likely to engage all students, resulting in greater student retention of information.
Therefore, a non-multisensory or traditional approach to learning is focused on mastery of content, with less emphasis on the development of skills and the nurturing of inquiring attitudes.
Traditional education is more concerned with preparation for the next grade level and in-school success rather than with helping students learn to learn throughout life. Traditional classrooms tend to be closed systems where information is filtered through layers to students. In general, the use of resources is limited to what is available in the classroom or within the school. Use of technology is focused on learning about the technology rather than its application to enhanced learning. Lesson plans are used to organize the various steps in the learning process for the whole-class approach.
While a, multisensory approach is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell. Teachers who use this approach teach children to link the sounds of letters with the written symbol. Children also link the sound and symbol with how it feels to form the letter or letters. As students learn a new letter or pattern (such as s or th), they carefully trace, copy, and write the letter(s) while saying the corresponding sound. The sound may be made by the teacher and the letter name(s) given by the student. Students then read and spell words, phrases, and sentences using these patterns. Teachers and their students rely on all three pathways for learning rather than focusing on a "sight-word" or memory method, a "tracing method," or a "phonetic method" alone.
Therefore, teachers using a multisensory approach enable teachers to modify the contents of their material and instruction. By incorporating a multisensory approach into the lesson and classroom, students are able to learn better since they can use multiple sensory modalities, which would make them more motivated to pay more attention to the information presented and retain the information better.
The idea that learning experienced through all the senses is helpful in reinforcing memory has a long history in pedagogy. From the earliest teaching guides (Montessori 1912), educators have embraced a range of multi-sensory techniques in order to make learning richer and more motivating for learners. The term is used to refer to any learning activity that combines two or more sensory strategies to take in or express information. Multisensory approaches have been particularly valuable in literacy and language learning, for example, in relationships between sound and symbol, word recognition, and the use of tactile methods such as tracing on rough or soft surfaces.
Multi-sensory instruction is also a powerful tool for reinforcing our language teaching in three important ways. First, it helps get the information across. Second, it helps the students process the information. And, third, it helps students more easily retrieve information already learned. Using a variety of senses simply opens up more doorways into the brain.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2004) defines multi-sensory as: 'using visual, auditory and kinaesthetic modalities, sometimes at the same time'. Kinaesthetic refers to perceiving through touch and an awareness of body movements. Teachers working with dyslexic learners have found multi-sensory approaches particularly valuable, as they help learners to make sense of information in a range of ways. Activities that harness all the senses are also an excellent way to include learners with disabilities.
Multisensory Approach teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels. They encourage students to use some or all their senses to:
â€¢ Gather information about a task
â€¢ Link information to ideas they already know and understand
â€¢ Perceive the logic involved in solving problems
â€¢ Learn problem solving tasks
â€¢ Tap into nonverbal reasoning skills
â€¢ Understand relationships between concepts
â€¢ Store information and store it for later recall
Using a multisensory teaching technique means helping a child to learn through more than one sense. Most teaching techniques are done using either sight or hearing (visual or auditory). The child's sight is used in reading information, looking at text, pictures or reading information based from the board. The hearing sense is used to listen to what the teacher says. The child's vision may be affected by difficulties with tracking or visual processing. Sometimes the child's auditory processing may be weak. The solution for these difficulties is to involve the use of more of the child's senses, especially the use of touch (tactile) and movement (kinetic). This will help the child's brain to develop tactile and kinetic memories to hang on to, as well as the auditory and visual ones (Tanenbaum, Cross, Tilsons, and Rogers, 1998).
Students with learning difficulties typically have difficulties in one or more areas of reading, spelling, writing, math, listening comprehension and expressive language. Multisensory techniques enable students to use their personal areas of strength to help them learn. They can range from simple to complex, depending on the needs of the student and the task at hand Herreid (1998).
On the other hand, a traditional teaching approach is generally teacher-directed and follows cookbook steps of activities and demonstrations. This approach may not provide students with valuable skills or even with a body of knowledge that lasts much beyond the end of the term (Udovic, Morris, Dickman, Postlethwait and Wetherwax, 2002).
While this philosophy finds its roots in the writings of 17th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, there are many modern proponents as well. Paulo Freire, a well-known educational theorist, criticized the "banking" theory of schooling in his classic book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire and his disciples saw education as an inherently political act of liberation rather than as the transmission of essential knowledge and skills to students.
This stands in stark contrast to the traditional view that schools exist for the purpose of ensuring students acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to function effectively in society. Unfortunately, the constructivist approach disavows this belief and minimizes the importance of academic content.
It was this philosophy that inspired the replacement of phonics with the whole language approach for reading instruction. Phonics reflects the traditional approach of teaching children letters and sounds while whole language encourages children to construct their own meaning from what they read. Although most current reading programs incorporate aspects of phonics, significant components of whole language remain prevalent in elementary classrooms.
In contrast, traditional methods made a significant positive impact on student learning. As an example of this, (Hattie, 2009) found that phonics outperformed whole language by a huge margin. Hattie concluded that phonics was "powerful in the process of learning to read" while the effects of whole language on reading instruction were "negligible."