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Monday, December 31, 2012

Differentiated Instruction #irockrh

From the We Are Teachers Blog:

7 Facts About Differentiated Instruction

by Hannah Hudson | Sep 25, 2012
How to Reach Every KidFor the past several years, many teachers have focused on strategies for differentiating instruction in order to serve every student's needs. With the adoption of the Common Core and the new, more rigorous benchmarks, other schools are taking an interest in exploring how differentiated instruction can help meet the needs of diverse learners.

Whether you are new to differentiated instruction or have been practicing it for years, we wanted to find out how the advent of the Common Core State Standards as well as new research and increased access to technology are changing differentiated teaching. So we turned to the experts at Staff Development for Educators, who recently held their national conference on differentiated instruction in Las Vegas. Here's what they, and the conference attendees, say are the key takeaways.

1) Students are number one. Students are at the heart of solid differentiated instruction, says Kate Maggs, program manager at Staff Development for Educators. "They drive the instruction, from struggling to gifted." That means you have to determine what each student needs first, through accurate assessment and conversation, and then use that data to drive your teaching.

2) You must believe they can achieve. In order for differentiated instruction to work, you have to start with the attitude that every student can reach the benchmarks you set out for him or her, stressed conference presenter and author Rick Wormeli. "Honor your students' gifts," echoed attendee Marlene Armstrong on Twitter. "They all have them, you just don't know what they are yet."

3) We need to get kids on their feet. Differentiated instruction means thinking outside the box, beyond pencil-and-paper assessments. "Butt-based education is not teaching," tweeted attendee Stephanie Crawford. "Students need to move!"

4) Tools like Facebook and Twitter can help differentiated instruction. "Using social media engages, involves promotes and encourage students at school," says presenter and high school principal Eric Sheninger.

5) The flipped classroom model also serves differentiated instruction, because students who are struggling can watch and re-watch the necessary teaching videos. "I realized the flipped classroom isn't just about homework, but a different way to teach," says attendee J. Fitzpatrick.

6) Self-assessment is powerful. "When kids find their own mistakes, they often don't make them again," writes Wormeli. Try giving students rubrics and allowing them to evaluate their own work.

7) The Common Core can integrate with differentiated instruction. The much-discussed “rigor” of the new standards has some teachers concerned that the Common Core State Standards won’t serve their lowest-performing students. While the full impact of the standards has yet to be determined, experts believe the scalable nature of the benchmarks will serve the differentiated classroom and every student who is in it.

For more resources on differentiated instruction, check out Staff Development for Educators.

Question for you: Want to learn even more about differentiated instruction? Sign up to for a chance to win free attendance to SDE’s National Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas.

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