The purpose of this study is to determine if differentiated instruction has an effect on student achievement and multiple intelligences in a classroom. One of the best ways to address multiple intelligences in a classroom is for teachers to develop their understanding of the natural convergence of certain concepts. Dedicated teachers who are well practiced in a variety of strategies can more effectively address multiple intelligences in their classrooms. Direct instruction and differentiated instruction are two different teaching strategies.
In direct instruction students work in whole group. The teacher explains the task to the students based on targeted learning outcomes. Students work in a large group on the required task in a timely manner. On the other hand, students who work in a flexible and/or cooperative group are guided with the strategy of differentiated instruction. The students in the group work together to master a set of skills depicted and explained in detail by the teacher. The teacher provides instruction based on the uniqueness of each student and his or her specific learning style.
In differentiated instruction, students and teachers collaborate with one another to meet the targeted goals (Tomlinson, 2001). Teachers use differentiated instruction in the classroom by prescribing technology supported cooperation, which enhanced student achievement. Most important, significant increases occurred in student achievement for students in the treatment group who used Internet-based software that differentiated instruction based on student needs and targeted learning outcomes.
In the same way, teachers who are trained to use CAI and cooperative learning in quality professional development programs notably and effectively can change their teaching practices. Technology-based instruction in the classroom requires training. High-quality professional development is ongoing staff development at the school site for administrators, teachers, and other instructional staff to understand student needs and improve results (National Staff Development Council, 2004). Teachers at the targeted school come to the table with varying levels of ability, technology skills, and knowledge of computers.
Professional development is a key factor in providing teachers with the mechanics that assist in understanding and applying the technology in differentiated instruction. The staff at the targeted school receives monthly technology-based professional development. The goals of the professional development sessions are well defined. According to Joyce and Showers (2002), effective professional development includes ongoing modeling, practice, feedback, and reflection over time. In a typical coaching model, literacy coaches and teachers engage in a cycle of demonstration, observation, and reflection (Mraz et al. 2009).
Together, both participants demonstrate, observe, reflect, and consider how such teaching decisions influence students. Another level of reflection occurs when the coach and teacher consider the learning outcomes of the students. As this happens, teachers develop a vested interest in coaching and start to see the benefits of reflection within their practice. Oftentimes, such awareness inspires teachers to continue their engagement in professional development and reflection.
They become stakeholders in their own learning and seek ongoing support from their literacy coach. Differentiated support, based on teachers’ individual needs and learning styles, is crucial for the work of a literacy coach. Learning happens within teachers, not to them (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006). One-size-fits-all professional development focuses on the dissemination of the same information to teachers and does not consider application or individual learning styles. Yet teachers are unique in terms of their pedagogy, experience, and content knowledge.
Therefore, learning should be differentiated to provide multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and sharing the information learned (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006). If teachers are expected to provide instruction responsive to students’ learning style needs, it is essential they be provided with the training and experience necessary to do so (Evans & Waring; Honigsfeld & Schiering, 2004). However, teachers who effectively implement the experiential approach do not focus on the hands-on nature of constructivist experientialism to the exclusion of serious mental involvement.
Indeed, students must also interact mentally through reflection and conceptualization of their experiences (Kolb & Kolb, 2009). The implementation of this involves active experimentation and concrete experiences in the hands-on stage and reflective observation and abstract conceptualization in the minds-on stage (Young, 2002). Traditionally assessments have been used to measure how much our students have learned up to a particular point in time (Stiggins, 2007). This is what Rick Stiggins alls “assessment of learning” and what we use to see whether our students are meeting standards set by the state, the district, or the classroom teacher.
These summative assessments are conducted after a unit or certain time period to determine how much learning has taken place. Although Stiggins notes that assessments of learning are important if we are to ascribe grades to students and provide accountability, he urges teachers to focus more on assessment for learning. These types of assessment — formative assessments — support learning during the learning process.
Thomas R. Guskey suggests that for assessments to become an integral part of the instructional process, teachers need to change their approach in three important ways. They must “1) use assessments as sources of information for both students and teachers, 2) follow assessments with high-quality corrective instruction, and 3) give students second chances to demonstrate success” (2007). In differentiated classrooms everywhere, a resounding mantra is “Fair is not equal; fair is getting what you need. Assessments enable us to determine what students need. But for our assessments to be accurate, we need multiple measures of student understanding.
We need evidence gathered over time in different ways to evaluate how effective the teaching and learning process has been. Tomlinson and McTighe (2006) suggest that when we gather a “photo album” rather than a “snapshot” of our students, we can differentiate instruction based on a more accurate evaluation of our students’ learning needs (Dodge).
A student’s opportunity to learn is the single most important student success variable that schools can control. This seems straightforward, but researchers have discovered that, in many schools, the learning continuum is divided into three disparate entities: the intended curriculum, the implemented curriculum, and the attained curriculum. The intended curriculum is content specified by school or external measures (e. g. , national content standards). The implemented curriculum is content actually delivered by teachers.
And the attained curriculum is what students learn. While most parents (and educators) assume congruity between the three entities, the discrepancy between them is, in practice, often surprisingly pronounced, in part because when teachers use the textbook as the “curriculum” for a course and cannot cover all the material, they commonly make “independent and idiosyncratic” decisions about what should be covered — directly influencing the students’ opportunity to learn. Research on OTL establishes a compelling argument for curriculum articulation.
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