Differentiation Learning Styles and Inclusive Education

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The topic researched is Inclusive learning, looking also into differentiation, and leaning styles. "Inclusive education means all students in a school, regardless of their strengths, weaknesses, or disabilities, are part of the general school community. They have a feeling of belonging among other students, educators, and support staff." (VERDEL BISHOP).

Inclusive learning is treating learners as individual and catering for needs for equally. Provisions should be made so that all learners are able to participate in all activities regardless of age, gender, religion, disability etc.

The learner's needs are often highlighted when negotiating with learners at the start of the course. It is then up to the educator to see, these are met. Such as, if a learner needs wheelchair access, the educator would need to make sure that there was a ramp in the building, disabled toilets, that a desk could be raised to allow for the wheelchair etc. If the learner has special educational needs (SEN) then there may be a need for a learning support assistant to be in the class too. The initial discussion would also give you an insight to their prior knowledge, motivation, cultural expectations and their results of the initial assessment would show their Literacy and numeracy need if any.

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The marketing material and polices and brochure from establishments should take into consideration the diverse audience.

"A few decades ago the world of education was very exercised by the forerunner of differentiation which was called 'mixed ability teaching'. Then people began to realise it was not just ability that could be "mixed'' and that educators had to cope with a plethora of differences: learning style, age, motivation, prior learning and experience, gender, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and so on. Consequently, the term 'mixed ability' began to be replaced by the less vivid term: 'differentiation'. "(Geoff Petty)

Differentiation is having a class of not only mixed abilities but race, background, learning styles, motivation , prior knowledge and catering for every learners needs enabling them to achieve their goals.

According to Tomlinson (2001) the three main areas of the curriculum that can be differentiated are:

Contents: The pre-assessment would give the educator ideas on the learner's abilities. With this in mind, the educator can plan the lesson taking into consideration the learners who have mastered the topic already and permitting them to work independently ahead. The educator can continue delivering the session as planned with the rest of the class.

Process: Giving the learners the opportunity to use different methods for varied activities, taking into consideration the different learning styles, and setting activities to suit the learner's needs. For example, be given the choice of how they would like to research their topic e.g. Use the computer, books, drawing, diagrams, writing, or reading. Using different methods best to their individual abilities would enhance their skills on other area as well as researching the topic itself.

Product: Giving the learners the option on how they would like to demonstrate their findings enables then to demonstrate their skills at their level. For example, a learner working at a lower level may decide to produce a newsletter and a learner working at a higher level may chose to use a PowerPoint slide show.

Diagram below shows the elements of differentiated instruction as they relate to one another.

http://www.eht.k12.nj.us/~jonesj/Differentiated%20Instruction/1%20DI%20Graphic%20Organizer.htm

When planning the lessons the educator can

Vary the reading material to allow for different readability levels

Recording text material onto tapes, as well as handouts

Buddying learners together

Activities that have the same skills and understanding but different levels of difficulty- Tiered activities.

Offering support

Allowing extra time those who need it and encouraging further research for the more advanced learners.

Allowing learners to use different methods, like writing letter, graphics, drawings, video clips, and recording to present their finding

A scheme of work would need to show a range of different activities that meet all the learners styles (VARK) taking into account any barriers to learning.

Giving extra challenging activities to those who complete before the rest would keep them motivated and occupied.

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"Inclusion means enabling all students to participate fully in the life and work of mainstream settings, whatever their needs. …

Inclusion may also be seen as a continuing process of breaking down barriers to learning and participation for all children and young people. Segregation, on the other hand, is a recurring tendency to exclude difference.

(CSIE, 2002b, p. 1)

Inclusive education goes beyond 'special educational needs': it refers to all learners who, for different reasons, may find themselves at risk of marginalisation or exclusion.

Inclusive education is about values: it assumes that diverse groups of pupils are of equal worth and have a right to be included.

Inclusive education does not focus on perceived individual deficits, but on the barriers to learning that individuals and groups of pupils may encounter.

Inclusive education is about changing the system so it is better for all: this includes educators, students, and everyone in the educational institution.

Inclusive education is about participation and learning from each other.

Inclusive education is not a fixed state but an evolving one.

Some of the key words that we noted were rights, participation, process, values, equality, diversity, and change. "