Our campus has been discussing differentiated instruction a lot lately. We are focusing on student needs and effective teaching strategies that help all students. There are multiple ways to look at this concept and it encompasses several ideas.
In my classroom, one way I’ve found that reaches all students is to allow the students to teach each other, not just in small groups or within their table groups, but actually working out problems for the entire class and explaining how they reached their answers.
This week we have been working on combinations. Some of these problems are very easy, and the kids catch on very quickly. Some, however, require some serious thinking skills to figure out all possible answers.
This is where the “student teachers” come into play. I could stand up there and explain how to work these problems until I’m blue in the face and some kids would get it, but others will completely tune out. Put a student up there–automatic engagement for all involved.
Not only are the students
happy ecstatic to be called upon to help their peers, they extend their thinking and learning by explaining their strategies to others. It encourages them to work harder and think critically about their work. They are more likely to ask questions and seek help so that they may be called upon to teach others.
At first I thought that the idea of differentiated instruction sounded like a lot more work on me (and it can be at times), but this simple technique actually saves my voice and allows the students to find theirs. 😉