EDU 6526: Course Meta Reflection: Utilization of Diverse Teaching Strategies

P – Practice effective teaching: inquiry, planning, instruction & assessment.

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. Teacher candidates plan and/or adapt standards-based curricula that are personalized to the diverse needs of each student.

When designing a curriculum for any given school year, educators should provide instruction that suits the needs of a wide variety of learners. Utilization of various teaching models enables the educator to do this, allowing instruction to be diversified and interesting. Moreover, diversified lessons can range from quick procedures that “…yield immediate results” to “…complex strategies that students acquire gradually from patient and skillful instruction” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 6). Inductive thinking, scientific inquiry, advance organizers, cooperative learning, and direct instruction are just a few examples of strategies that can be used to accomplish this. In order to provide a diverse curriculum, it is important that the educator use several models of instruction selected based on the student populations in individual classrooms. To do this effectively, teachers need to get to know their students and consistently assess their progress.

Many methods are used to incorporate a variety of teaching models in one classroom setting. Teaching models can be grouped together to incorporate multiple learning strategies in a given lesson. For example, students may be prompted at the beginning of an assignment with an advance organizer in addition to direct instruction from the teacher to first establish lesson goals and objectives. During the course of the lesson, the class may also be instructed to use scientific inquiry and cooperative learning in unison. With this strategy, the teacher utilizes several teaching models in one lesson. In other words, the students are provided with a foundation for learning at the beginning of the lesson. They are then able to use scientific inquiry to build on their natural skills as hypothesizers, while also improving social relations in cooperative learning groups or partnerships. In this example, several teaching models are used at the end of a forty-five minute lesson.

In another example, lessons may also be structured to have students participate in a different activity each day. One day the class could be working on an individual assignment using scientific inquiry. They may be exploring and conducting investigations independently, testing hypothesis and developing theories based on their observations. The next day, this assignment can be followed with a cooperative learning activity. Students may share their findings from the previous day’s activity while also listening to the observations of partners or group members; they may then adjust their findings based on these discussions. This promotes the personal development of student learning, through information processing and social collaboration. In this example, several teaching models may be used over the course of two lessons in two days’ time.

Lastly, layered instruction can span over several weeks or even months, utilizing many teaching models over a longer period of time. For example, inductive thinking can be implemented utilizing the picture word inductive model (PWIM). As PWIM is a strategy that spans over several carefully planned lessons, students are able to consistently develop and practice new vocabulary and literacy skills. This model also provides the educator an opportunity to introduce other teaching models in unison such as advance organizers, cooperative-learning activities, and direct instruction. These are just a few examples of how multiple teaching models can be used cohesively to diversify instruction.

There are also a variety of resources that teachers can utilize to facilitate that instruction is designed to meet a diverse range of learners. Teachers can better prepare curriculum design by getting to know individual students and their learning needs. Student goals can be identified early in the school year by (1) initiating classroom introductions; (2) having students fill out worksheets explaining their hopes and anticipations for the upcoming school year; (3) getting to know parents and caregivers during parent-teacher conferences and through consistent email communication; (4) and scheduling time for individual conversations with students during classroom work times. Throughout the school year, teachers should also assess student learning and gather data to track individual student progress in order to examine if adjustments need to be made to lesson plans. Figure 1 provides an example of a rubric that can be adjusted and used to assess student skill levels.

Figure 1. General rubric examples (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 15).

Figure 1. General rubric examples (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 15).

Technology can also be utilized to help gather data quickly and efficiently, without a lot of legwork. For example, a simple assessment can be quickly set up using Google Forms. Students can fill in the electronic form to individually assess themselves, by name or anonymously, to inform the teacher of their learning progress. Figure 2 provides a sample of a form.

Figure 2. Google Form example (http://www.google.com/docs/about/)

Figure 2. Google Form example (http://www.google.com/docs/about/)

After students enter their selections, the software will automatically track and graph data to visually assess the progress of the class for one given lesson or even over an extensive period of time. While there are many ways to understand, assess, and track student progress, these are just a couple of examples of how this can be done to better understand how to plan lessons based on feedback received.

In conclusion, diversified instruction can be implemented to meet individual student needs through careful planning and evaluation. In order to do so, several teaching models can be utilized to diversify learning to reach a wide variety of learners. Teachers can prepare for this by laying down the groundwork to get to know individual students, assess their progress, gather data, and plan future lessons accordingly. While this may seem like a daunting task, there are methods to make this process easier, by layering teaching models, utilizing resources including technology, and carefully planning future assignments based on information gathered from students. These are just a few examples of how instruction can be diversified to reach a wide range of learners.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research based strategies for increasing student achievement (2nd ed.). Alexandria: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

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