Differentiation strategies to support mastery

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Overview of Lesson:

(Include differentiation strategies to support mastery.)

The lesson is designed to address the trends, issues, evidence-based remediation practices and preferred learning styles relating to the student group, as specified in the week 3 assignment. In particular, there has to be a switch from a teacher-centered class based on listening, to a culturally responsive class, in which the students are able to work and collaborate in groups using their preferred learning styles. A feeling of belonging needs to be instilled in the students to eliminate the issues and trends associated historically with this group, as they have always been considered the “underdogs”.

In order to support the students' mastery of the lesson content, a differentiation strategy has been developed, based on a study by Bowerman (2005). The lesson consists of a technologically based differentiation strategy designed to meet the needs of diverse learners. A rubric is used to evaluate each activity in the class.

Learning Objectives:

Develop the skills needed to create an opening, main body and conclusion for a 150 word essay to analyze a graph. The opening should be a brief introduction to the graph. The main body should consist of organizing and presenting the relevant information, specifying trends, comparisons and key features. The conclusion should be a clear and succinct summary of the information reported.

Target Student Group:

(Describe the group, its learning style(s), etc.)

According to the data collection table in the week 2 assignment, this student group demonstrates a performance gap in the National Test Performance for writing, where their score falls below 12.5% PR. This compares with the school average of 52.8% PR and the Taoyuan County average of 79.6% PR. These students prefer a learning style of working in groups, as it gives them more confidence than working alone. Furthermore, they prefer to collaborate and work together, rather than just listening to a teacher-centered class.

Key Content Concepts:

The class consists of 34 students, 28 of whom are Taiwanese Aboriginals and 6 of whom are none-Aboriginal, poor academic achievers. The class has been generally regarded historically as being a “no hope” class. It has always been allocated the most rundown and inadequate classroom as well as the least experienced and least (ESL) qualified teachers. The basic concept is to change from a situation of “no hope” to a situation of using culturally responsive teaching. Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of references, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant and effective for them.” The content outlined below engages this concept of change.

Rationale for Instructional Remediation Strategy:

(Cite the research base.)

The rationale for instructional remediation strategy is based on the study by Bowerman (2005).

In the study, Bowerrnan (2005) states:

In planning my lessons and group work, I begin with an assessment of what my students already know. Using technology as a productivity tool myself, I create a spreadsheet of skills to be mastered by each student. I can then sort by skill to break students into small work groups at learning centers around the classroom (p. 23).

Accordingly, this is what is done in preparation for step 1 of the instructional steps for conducting the lesson below.

Bowerrnan (2005) further states:

Students are often paired or grouped in threes with a mix of skills to complete a project. Each student has a lead responsibility, and every student is accountable to one another. Roles vary so that each student has the opportunity to try new things. Often, natural talents emerge and students of all levels find roles in which they can contribute something of value to the group (p.23).

Following on from this, it forms the basis for steps 2 to 6 of the instructional steps for conducting the lesson below.

According to Bowerman (2005):

As students work at the learning centers, I move around the room posing questions and getting to know who still needs to work on a particular skill. There are also times when everyone comes together and students take turns demonstrating what they've learned. The presenters take pride in sharing, while the other students learn from hearing their classmates' explanations (p. 23).

This is also incorporated into steps 2 to 6 and also step 7 of the instructional steps for conducting the lesson below.

Bowerman's study (2005) stated that:

My mix of special-needs and gifted students may not constitute a typical classroom, but even so-called "typical" students will challenge a teacher with various learning styles. To meet this challenge, I try to assess my students in as many different ways as I can; not just through a written report or presentation.

Children perform well when they can learn and express themselves in a number of different ways. As a result, the "show what you know" paradigm has become a cornerstone of my teaching. Drawing on the multiple intelligences, students help determine what they must do to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of a skill, and then choose among the criteria of which activities are best suited for them (p.23).

Following on, this is incorporated into steps 8 to 12 of the instructional steps for conducting the lesson below.

Materials/Technology Required for Lesson:

Whiteboard, ten computers, screen and projector (projector to be linked into all the computers), pens and notepads, a copy of the graph to be analyzed for each student.

Instructional Steps for Conducting the Lesson:

(Number the steps. Be specific about that the learner is doing.)

1. The students are assigned to work in small groups of 3 or 4 (there are 34 students in total in this class) according to their mix of skills. Groups are assigned to learning centers around the classroom, each learning center focusing on specific elements to be used in the development of the essay.

2. Learning center 1. The Students in the group discuss occasions and situations in which they are involved in eating either traditional Taiwanese cooking or fast food. Students are encouraged by the teacher circulating the centers to talk about any ethnic specialties that they like, seasonal dishes linked to cultural festivals, or favorite dishes served at their homes. They are also encouraged to explain the circumstances that allow them to buy fast food, such as after school, weekends, social meetings with friends, etc. The students are tasked to consider any changes in their own eating habits over the last few years. For example, perhaps they eat more or less traditional foods than before? Or perhaps they eat more or less fast food than before? How do they feel about the eating preferences of the population of Taiwan as a whole? The learning center is equipped with an internet-enabled computer, allowing the students to access online materials to help e.g. online dictionaries, descriptions of Taiwanese festivals and associated foods, etc. They are encouraged to download useful information.

3. Learning center 2. The students discuss the graph in their group. As a guide to the discussion, the circulating teacher presents the students with key questions for debate. For example, “How has fast food consumption changed over the last ten years in Taiwan?”, or, “Is traditional food cooking at home a dying trend?” The students look for trends, comparisons and key features on the graph. The learning center is equipped with a computer and the students are encouraged to write a selection of key sentences outlining their findings.

4. Learning center 3. The group considers possible phrases and/or information that could be used in creating an introduction to the essay. The learning center is equipped with a computer and the students are encouraged to write a selection of key sentences related to their findings.

5. Learning center 4. The group considers possible phrases and/or information that could be used in creating a main body of the essay. The learning center is equipped with a computer and the students are encouraged to write a selection of key sentences related to their findings.

6. Learning center 5. The group considers possible phrases and/or information that could be used in creating a conclusion for the essay. The learning center is equipped with a computer and the students are encouraged to write a selection of key sentences related to their findings.

7. After completing the work at each of the learning centers and before moving onto the next learning center, the students come together and share with their peers the results of their work. For this peer-to-peer work, students use a combination of presentation skills, such as projecting the computer files they created onto the projector screen, speaking about their findings and generally interacting with the whole class.

8. After completing the work at all five learning centers, students work to complete their own individual version of the essay, but are allowed to collaborate with other members of their group whilst doing so.

9. Essays are submitted to the teacher for marking.

10. Marked essays are handed back to the students, with comments and suggestions annotated accordingly.

11. An assessment rubric for the lesson is completed by the teacher and handed to each student.

Assessment Rubric

Create the assessment rubric for your lesson plan here.

Grade Level: 8th Grade, Junior High School (Taiwan)

English Language Writing Level: Elementary

Outcome

Performance Level: Advanced

Performance Level: Proficient

Performance Level: Basic

Participates in the discussions at each leaning center. (3 points)

Demonstrates an ability to comprehensively take part in the discussions at each learning center. (3 points)

Demonstrates an ability to adequately take part in the discussions at each learning center. (2 points)

Does not demonstrate an ability to adequately contribute to the discussions at each learning center. (0-1 points)

Participates in the peer-to-peerpresentations at the end of the learning centers. (2 points)

Demonstrates an ability to comprehensively take part in the peer-to-peer presentations at the end of the learning centers. (2 points)

Demonstrates an ability to adequately take part in the peer-to-peer presentations at the end of the learning centers. (1 points)

Does not demonstrate an ability to adequately contribute to the peer-to-peer presentations at the end of the learning centers. (0 points)

Demonstrates an ability to create an essay of at least 150 words, analyzing a graph, to include an introduction, main body and conclusion. (3 points)

Demonstrates an ability to comprehensively develop a well written essay of at least 150 words, analyzing a graph, to include an introduction, main body and conclusion. (3 points)

Demonstrates an ability to adequately develop an essay of at least 150 words, analyzing a graph, to include an introduction, main body and conclusion. (2 points)

Does not demonstrate an ability to adequately write an essay of at least 150 words, analyzing a graph, to include an introduction, main body and conclusion. (0-1 points)

Completed essay is handed in at the end of the class. (2 points)

Completed essay is handed in at the end of the class. (2 points)

Essay is incomplete or not handed in at the end of the class. (0 points)

Applying Research and Key Learning

1.

Upon introduction to the subject group by a Taiwanese teacher at the school in question, it was clear that the group were composed primarily of one ethnic minority, the Taiwanese Aboriginals, along with a few poor academic achievers from mainstream Taiwanese society. They were grouped together in a classroom in need of significant repair and were assigned the least experienced and least qualified teachers. Indeed they were given teachers who saw themselves as the only managers of the class (Barbetta, Norona & Bicard, 2005). Generally, it was considered to be a “no hope group” by the school. However, according to Tomlinson (2005), "differentiation simply suggests that teachers have clear learning goals that are rich in meaning and provide various avenues and support systems to maximize that chance of each student succeeding with those rich and important goals" (p. 13). The research that I have done has indicated how this idea of differentiation could be applied to this particular group, so that rather than considering them as being a “no hope group”, they could be considered as being a “big hope group.”

2. What has proven useful with this student group is the use of student's interest and natural curiosity appeal aid in motivation. Students will be motivated to learn when the course is structured in a way that students learn best when incentives for learning in a classroom satisfy their own motives for enrolling in the course. Some of the needs your students may bring to the classroom are the need to learn something in order to complete a particular task or activity, the need to seek new experiences, the need to perfect skills, the need to overcome challenges, the need to become competent, the need to succeed and do well, the need to feel involved and to interact with other people. Satisfying such needs is rewarding in itself, and such rewards sustain learning more effectively than do grades.

Design assignments, in-class activities, and discussion questions to address these kinds of needs. If a student has serious academic problems or problems that you cannot resolve on your own, you can ask the course head or the head tutor in the department for support and advice. He or she may already be aware of the problem, since students having difficulty in one course often have other problems. These advisors are key people for referring students to professional counselors or other sources of help. You may also refer students directly to the school counselor for academic support, study skills workshops, peer tutoring, and individual study counseling. If a student has serious personal or emotional problems, you should be familiar with the resources available to your student and to you:

At my own school the learners are very diverse, particularly with regard to a diverse social class, gender, language ability, required outcome in a proficiency exam and length of time that they have attended the classes, which repeat on a 12 week cycle. I now know how to specifically address the diverse learning needs of my students using instructional strategies, such as the differentiated instruction applied in this week 4 assignment. According to Bowerman (2005), “One of the greatest challenges teachers face is effectively reaching a roomful of students with varying abilities and learning styles on a daily basis” (p.20).

This assignment has proven to me how a group of ethnically diverse and underperforming students could be transformed into a much more equitable group of students and I can now go ahead and apply the same transformation in my own classes.

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