“What Is a Differentiated Classroom?” is the title of the first chapter of our course text. Below the title is a quote from Seymour Sarason’s “The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform.” The quote states: “A different way to learn is what the kids are calling for ….All of them are talking about how our one-size-fits-all delivery system – which mandates that everyone learn the same thing at the same time, no matter what their individual needs – has failed them.
This is a powerful statement and one that admittedly paints an accurate picture of much of my teaching style coming into this course – “a one-size-fits-all delivery system.” My initial reaction to the opening statement was a bit defensive and off-putting. As I continued to read, I was momentarily validated when shortly afterwards I read that teacher’s often ask the question “How can I possibly divide time, resources and myself so that I am an effective catalyst for maximizing talent in all my students?” There are seemingly just too many needs and variables to reach the masses in a classroom. Teach to the middle seems to be a logical strategy. If we assume the 80-20 rule, we can reach 80% of the students fairly effectively with this methodology. Of the remaining 20 %, some portion of them should be able to glean part of the information. To be sure, I am available and encouraging of questions to assist in understanding. Additionally, I may grade an individual’s work with some reasonable variance. But other than some on-the-fly adjustments I may make to assignments as I see need that is the extent of my differentiation in the classroom. SEEMS reasonable enough! Or should I say SEEMED reasonable enough!! The remainder of chapter one promptly provided a stern but inspirational slap-in-the-face. It offered a quick but stark contrast to my seemingly logical method of operation. A few of the “differentiation” concepts highlighted which served as motivation a prompted further reading:
•Teachers begin where students are, not from the start of a curriculum guide
•Teachers must be ready to engage students in instruction through different modalities, by appealing to differing interests, and by using varied rates of instruction along with varied degrees of complexity
•Teachers provide specific ways for each individual to learn as deeply as possible and as quickly as possible, without assuming one student’s road map for learning is identical to anyone else’s.
•Teachers begin with a clear and solid sense of what constitutes powerful curriculum and engaging instruction. Then they ask what it will take to modify that instruction so that each learner comes away with understandings and skills.
•It is difficult to achieve a differentiated classroom because there are few examples of them. (Tomlinson, 1999) With these thoughts as an introduction and tapping into my drive for continual improvement the stage was set for the course. Moving forward, I see in retrospect, what chapter one did for peeking my interest in differentiated instruction I believe the rest of the book, the course workbook and the course itself did for laying the foundation towards true implementation. The following are four lesson plans I have developed to begin the process of differentiating lessons for my students. The differentiated concepts utilized are Entry Points, Problem Solving, Sternberg’s 3 Intelligences and Extension Menu’s. These lessons, while unique in their methodologies, all reflect the underlying assumption of Differentiated Instruction (DI).
And that assumption, as reflected in a graphic organizer in our course workbook, is that ….Differentiation is a response to the learner’s needs using learning profiles, interests and readiness in content, process and product. The first lesson constructed utilizes Howard Gardner’s “Entry Points” strategy. This lesson is designed to account for the various learning profiles of student’s and is based off of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory. The major tenet of MI theory is that people learn, represent, and utilize knowledge in many different ways. These differences challenge an educational system which assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to educate and test student learning. According to Gardner, “the broad spectrum of students–and perhaps the society as a whole–would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be accessed through a variety of means.” The Multiple Intelligences postulated in this theory are:
•Linguistic Intelligence –The capacity to use oral and/or written words effectively.
•Logical-Mathematical Intelligence –the ability to effectively use numbers and to reason.
•Spatial Intelligence –the capacity to accurately perceive the visual/spatial world and create internal mental images.
•Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence –the ability to skillfully move one’s body and to move and manipulate objects.
•Musical Intelligence –a sensitivity to and grasp of the elements of music.
•Interpersonal Intelligence –the capacity to perceive and distinguish moods, intentions, and feelings of others. and using simulations to learn about events, feelings and alternative strategies for behaving.
•Intrapersonal Intelligence –the ability to know one’s self and act on the basis of that knowledge.
•Naturalistic intelligence – the ability to recognize and classify plants, animals, and minerals including a mastery of taxonomies. (The Theory of Multiple Intelligences) Stemming from the MI theory is Gardner’s “Entry Point” strategy for education. According to this strategy, Gardner proposes student exploration of a given topic through as many as five avenues: Narrational (presenting a story), Logical-Quantitative (using numbers or deduction), Foundational (examining philosophy and vocabulary), Aesthetic (focusing on sensory features), and Experiential (hands-on). (Grants and Research Office) In utilizing the Entry Point strategy in the first lesson plan, students will explore and be introduced to the world of “new products and services through invention, innovation and discovery” via four of the five entry points listed: Narrational, Logical-Quantitative, Foundational and Aesthetic. The fifth entry point, Experiential, is included in the unit lesson and will be used as a summative experience. The differentiated design
of this lesson taps into the multiple learning styles of students through a variety of processes.
Entry Point Strategies for subject “New Products”:
•Narrative: Students browse the internet searching for new products which have recently been introduced to the consumer. Student’s compile a list of their findings as they progress.
•Logical/Mathmatic: Students gather statistics regarding the sales of a product over the products life cycle. Student’s then incorporate that statistical data into a graph via excel
•Aesthetic: Students create a collage of new products along with the demographic who would utilize the product
•Foundational: Entrepreneurship: Students view three of a possible five video clips on the role of Inventors/Innovators/Entrepreneurs and their connection to new products. Discussion to follow
•Experiential: Field Trip to QVC to view new products as they are being displayed, advertised and sold
The second of the four differentiated lessons centers on the essential question of “What is the Six Step Developmental Process?” The differentiated strategy employed in this lesson is based on Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence. I looked forward to putting this lesson together as Sternberg’s theory is one that resonates with me. Coming from the business management world, and being new to the vocation of teaching, I find much of my class instruction project based with a real world “practical” slant. Additionally, as a manager in business, one is constantly striving to place the correct people in the correct roles within a company. Hiring’s, training, evaluations, promotions, firings, relocations are all a product of a manager’s evaluation of employees strengths, talents, weaknesses and deficiencies. When evaluating and placing individual’s the criteria often looked at are an employee’s analytical, creative and practical skills. This theory strikes me as a perfect correlation between educational/intellectual theory and real world application. A brief summary of Dr. Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of (Successful) Intelligence contends that intelligent behavior arises from a balance between analytical, creative and practical abilities, and that these abilities function collectively to allow individuals to achieve success within particular contexts.
Analytical abilities enable the individual to evaluate, analyze, compare and contrast information. Creative abilities generate invention, discovery, and other creative endeavors. Practical abilities tie everything together by allowing individuals to apply what they have learned in the appropriate setting. To be successful in life the individual must make the best use of his or her analytical, creative and practical strengths, while at the same time compensating for weaknesses in any of these areas. This might involve working on improving weak areas to become better adapted to the needs of a particular environment, or choosing to work in an environment that values the individual’s particular strengths (Plucker). As applied to the classroom, it is important to provide students with the opportunity to learn based off of their natural and stronger intellectual ability(ies). Too often, education has tried to fit everyone into the “Analytical” mold. However, it is to be noted, teachers should also strive to provide the opportunity for students to learn subject material via their weaker intellectual ability as well so as to simultaneously develop intellectual learning abilities as well as a base of knowledge in a particular subject matter.
Sternberg Based Strategies for lesson – “Developing New Products – The Six Step Process”:
•Identify the Six Step Developmental Process in developing a new product.
•Choose and research one of the product options given and cite how that product progressed through each of the six step process
•Write a one page summary on your thoughts of the effectiveness of the Six Step Process in the development of the product you chose.
Would you have followed the same process or deviated at any point? State why or why not and if you would have deviated state how and why.
•Identify the Six Step Developmental Process in developing a new product.
•Describe a fictional product that you would like to see invented
•Assume the role of an inventor and take your fictional product through the Six Step Developmental Process. Describe the considerations and possible decisions made at each step.
•Create a model of your product via a picture or prototype
•Identify the Six Step Developmental Process in developing a new product.
•Describe a product you use and find valuable in everyday life
• Assume you were the inventor/innovator of the product you described, describe some of the considerations and decisions you believe were made at each step of the Six Step Developmental Process.
•In a presentation, show and demonstrate the product you have chosen and describe some of the elements of the Six Step Developmental Process you believe were critical in its development.
The third of the four lesson plans has as its content the “Marketing Mix.” The essential questions the students are to acquire answers to and achieve understanding for center around the “Distribution” component of the Marketing Mix. The DI teaching strategy to be utilized in this lesson is that of “Problem Based Learning.” As with Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Learning this particular strategy also resonates strongly with me. Again, coming from the business world, I see great value in a Problem Based Learning approach. It is very often how business gets done. Answers to problems must be contemplated, researched, solutions designed, implemented, evaluated …process repeated. Taking both DI approaches a step further, I see that merging Sternberg’s theory with Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a way of maximizing the PBL approach.
A quick summarization of PBL: Problem-based learning (PBL) is an approach that challenges students to learn through engagement in a real problem. It is a format that simultaneously develops both problem solving strategies and disciplinary knowledge bases and skills by placing students in the active role of problem-solvers confronted with a situation that simulates the kind of problems they are likely to face as future managers in complex organizations. Problem-based learning is student-centered. PBL makes a fundamental shift–from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. The process is aimed at using the power of authentic problem solving to engage students and enhance their learning and motivation. There are several unique aspects that define the PBL approach:
•Learning takes place within the contexts of authentic tasks, issues, and problems–that are aligned with real-world concerns.
•In a PBL course, students and the instructor become co-learners, co-planners, co-producers, and co-evaluators as they design, implement, and continually refine their curricula.
•The PBL approach is grounded in solid academic research on learning and on the best practices that promote it. This approach stimulates students to take responsibility for their own learning, since there are few lectures, no structured sequence of assigned readings, and so on.
•PBL is unique in that it fosters collaboration among students, stresses the development of problem solving skills within the context of professional practice, promotes effective reasoning and self-directed learning, and is aimed at increasing motivation for life-long learning. (Purser) Below is a diagram located from the University of California, Irvine website. I found it succinct and anticipate it to be very helpful as I move forward in the implementation of Problem Based Learning in my classroom.
Student-centered & Experiential
Select authentic assignments from the discipline, preferably those that would be relevant and meaningful to student interests. Students are also responsible for locating and evaluating various resources in the field. Relevance is one of the primary student motivators to be a more self-directed learner Inductive
Introduce content through the process of problem solving, rather than problem solving after introduction to content. Research indicates that “deeper” learning takes place when information is introduced within a meaningful context. Builds on/challenges prior learning
If the case has some relevance to students, then they are required to call on what they already know or think they know. By focusing on their prior learning, students can test assumptions, prior learning strategies, and facts. The literature suggests that learning takes placewhen there is a conflict between prior learning and new information. Context-specific
Choose real or contrived cases and ground the count in the kinds of challenges faced by practitioners in the field. Again, context-specific information tends to be learned at a deeper level and retained longer. Problems are complex and ambiguous, and require meta-cognition Select actual examples from the “real life” of the discipline that have no simple answers. Require students to analyze their own problem solving strategies. Requires the ability to use higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creation of new knowledge. Creates cognitive conflict
Select cases with information that makes simple solutions difficult: while the solution may address one part of a problem, it may create another problem. Challenges prior learning as noted above. The literature suggests that learning takes place when there is a conflict between prior learning and new information. Collaborative & Interdependent
Have students work in small groups in order to address the presented case By collaborating, students see other kinds of problem solving strategies used, they discuss the case using their collective information, and they need to take responsibility for their own learning, as well as their classmates’. (Gallow)
•What are the four components of the “Marketing Mix” and which component deals with the delivery of a product to the consumer market?
•What are the three methods of distribution”?
•How does the method of distribution a company selects impact availability to the consumer?
“Problem Based Learning” Strategy for lesson on the Marketing Mix component of “Distribution”:
•Problem/Scenario: In pairs, “Marketing Partners” will determine the best methodology to “DISTRIBUTE” the product assigned to their “Marketing Firm.”
•Problems to solve/Questions to answer:
•What distribution channels does the competitor use?
•Create in table form your competitors names, distribution channels and relative success of the competitor
•What distribution options are viable for your company?
•Create in table form a list of all possible distribution channels for your product as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each channel
•In email form, compose a letter to your Director of Marketing defining the three levels of distribution intensity (Intensive, Exclusive and Selective) and indicate which level you recommend utilizing and explain why.
•Based on the distribution intensity strategy you selected, create a data base (excel or word using tables) of at least 10 stores that may be a good fit to carry your product. Database should include the prospects: name, address, phone number, email and a short list of products carried.
•Create a “Marketing Proposal Presentation” to deliver to your co-workers (class) which outlines your proposed distribution plan. The fourth lesson plan created and to be implemented as part of my new-and-improved DI Classroom of the future will utilize the strategy of Extension Menus. This lesson, as with the previous lesson, will have as its content the “Marketing Mix.” However, the focus and essential questions will center on the concept of “Promotion.” I see the significance and benefits of extension menus as many. Among the value points of extension menus is that they can be created to meet student needs using all three of the discussed vehicles: Learning Profiles, Interest and Readiness. In researching and then summarizing Extension Menus I have summarized the key elements in bullet form: Definition of Extension Menu
An extension menu is an array of independent learning activities to provide students with choices for extending or enriching the essential curriculum. Purposes of Extension Menus
•Enrich or extend the essential curriculum
•Challenge the abilities of highly able students
•Provide alternative activities that address the differing abilities, interests, or learning styles of students Advantages of Extension Menus
•Can be written for any curriculum area
•Provide rigorous and challenging learning activities for highly able students
•May be tiered to accommodate all levels of instruction in the classroom
•Can be used to target specific learning activities for an individual student or group of students
•Allow student choice as well as challenge
•Encourage the development of independent thinkers
•Allow the teacher to monitor students’ choices and behaviors to learn more about their interests, abilities and learning styles
•Promote student use of higher level thinking skills
• Promote flexible grouping in the classroom
•Allow the teacher to be a facilitator
Varied Uses of Extension Menus
•Follow-up activity after a lesson
•Culminating activity at the end of a unit
•Anchoring activity (defined by Carol Ann Tomlinson as, “meaningful work done individually and silently especially when children first begin a class or when they finish assigned work
•Learning center for enrichment and/or extension of the curriculum
•Independent activity for students who have compacted out of specific curricular objectives or who have completed their work (Byrdseed, 2009-1012) Below is an Extension Menu I came across in my research. It will serve as a model moving forward. I thought it appropriate to include as an illustration of excellence. Tic-Tac-Toe Menu
Facts or ideas which are important to you.
A lesson about your topic to our class. Include as least one visual aid. (Synthesis)
A diagram, map or picture of your topic.
Two different viewpoints about an issue. Explain your decision. (Evaluation)
Videotape, or film part of your presentation.
Something to show what you have learned.
Some part of your study to show how many or how few.
An original poem, dance, picture, song, or story.
Something to show what you have learned.
Others to learn their opinions about some fact, idea, or feature of your study. (Analysis)
How your topic will change in the next 10 years.
A model or diorama to illustrate what you have learned.
An original game using the facts you have learned.
And recite a quote or a short list of facts about your topic. (Knowledge)
An editorial for the student newspaper or draw an editorial cartoon. (Evaluation)
Two things from your study. Look for ways they are alike and different. (Analysis)
For my first crack at Extension Menus I am offering a choice between three options. The projects assume a given level of “Readiness” as they are culminating exercises. “Interest” and “Learning Profiles” are tapped into as the choices offered are through the mediums of graphics (brochure), audio recordings (radio announcement-recorded or recited) or writings (public relations article). Additionally, the exercises also tap in Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory by meeting “Creative” and “Practical” components.
•What are the four components of the “Marketing Mix” and which component deals with making the public aware of a business’ products or services?
•What are the various methods of “Promotion”?
•How do promotional activities influence consumers?
Extension Menus for lesson on the Marketing Mix component of “Promotions”: Following unit lesson regarding the “Promotions” aspect of the Marketing Mix, students will be provided the opportunity to select one of three extension projects to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject. The basic nature of each assignment will vary to allow students the opportunity to select a methodology in which they are more inclined. The students will create either an artistic, written or verbal/kinesthetic product.
•Extension Menu Project
An entertainment group has just booked a three week engagement at your cities convention hall. Your marketing firm is one of two firms being considered to promote this event. You have been tasked to provide a sample marketing piece to win the job. Choose one of the following methodologies and create a “Promotional” piece for this event. Details of the event will be distributed.
•Tri-fold Brochure: Using “Word” or a similar program, create a tri-fold brochure which pictures the entertainment groups major events and as well as various features of their business.
•Public Relations Article: Using ”Word,” create an article publicizing the coming of the entertainment group to your city and generate a “buzz” that will draw attendance to the various events.
•Radio Announcement: Using a recording program, create a radio advertisement announcing the coming of the entertainment group to your city and highlight several of the main events. Also promote your station’s on-site appearance at one of the events. OR
Write your radio announcements and perform them live for the class.
As the saying goes ….”If you’re not moving forward – you’re moving backwards!” The challenge for us in this course, through classroom instruction, discussion, exercises, text readings and research, is to move forward in our instruction by way of transitioning from traditional methods of instruction to differentiated methods. I came into the course skeptical. I exit via this LEP project as encouraged and inspired. We talked about starting small and moving towards the greater goal. With these lesson plans and the tools acquired during class/research the foundation of a start have been laid.
(n.d.). Retrieved July Wednesday, 2012, from schoolloop.com: http://pps-pajaro-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1303568322190/1312697332954/8516106516570643153.pdf Byrdseed, I. (2009-1012). Byrdseed. Retrieved July Wednesday, 2012, from Offer Choice with Extension Menus: http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/file/view/Extension+Menu+directions+9.1.04.pdf Gallow, D. .. (n.d.). University of California, Irvine. Retrieved July Tuesday, 2012, from Problem-Based Learning Faculty Institute: http://www.pbl.uci.edu/whatispbl.html Grants and Research Office. (n.d.). Retrieved July Monday, 2012, from Applying Research to Practice: