These teachers are motivated by improving students' motivation, self-esteem, or altruism more than by improving test scores, even though they're well aware of the importance of data.
Objective data leave them cold unless it 's accompanied by qualitative evidence that students will also grow personally.
They'll often pursue in-depth knowledge of a model or theory if it's presented with case studies of how a school changed or how a targeted group of students embraced academics.
Angela likely prefers to read about and discuss new ideas. If she prefers Introversion, her best route to change is first independent study, then innovating in her classrooms, and, finally, sharing results and student work.
Angela may appreciate specific feedback when implementing classroom changes. Use a preobservation conference to identify the information she would like to receive from you. Angela is more open to modeling and coteaching than some types-unless a new strategy is out of their comfort zone
Angela may often prefer to go as far as she can on her own with a new idea. Instead of working with Angela in the early stages of lesson planning or strategy implementation, ask if she would like to outline her ideas and then run them by you.
Advertise coaching as assistance for reaching the most reluctant learner, the most difficult class, the subject Angela least prefers to teach, and so on.
It increases the number of students who participate and thus contributes to equity.
Wait time also helps teachers easily accommodate the needs of students who need different instruction approaches.
Benefit greatly from time to think before being asked to share thoughts or join in group processes.
If scaffolded via these strategies that help them hold their thoughts, benefit by going beyond their first thought and enriching their responses
If you need evidence that Wait Time is worth the effort, read Ingram and Elliott (2016) A critical analysis of the role of wait time in classroom interactions and the effects on student and teacher interactional behaviours. Otherwise, try one of the following differentiation strategies.
Yes, counting to five after asking a question significantly increases the number of students willing and ready to respond. If you are facilitating an online course, you may need to count to ten. Let students know that you are doing this; to some (and to many teachers) five seconds seems like an eternity.
Pose a question and let students know you won’t call on anyone until at least ten (or 5 or 18 or whatever number seems right) hands are in the air. If it’s the middle of the afternoon and your students seem tired, ask for ten feet up, or hands on heads, or anything to wake them up.
Have students make cards that have a red hexagon for wait on one side and a green circle for go on the other (adding the shapes allows students who are color blind to use the cards). You can use these in several ways.
Keep using protocols such as “Think-Pair-Share” and “Last Word” that incorporate wait time.
Choices differentiate by increasing autonomy, a core human need and motivator.
Providing choice is one of the quickest ways to differentiate via the content students will work with, the processes they will experience while learning, and/or the products that show their learning, including assessments. This strategy lets you move among the Instruction approaches in a different way than Wait Time.
Thrive when allowed opportunities to be unique and use their creativity. Choice is an easy way to increase their autonomy.
Benefit from scaffolded experiences where they aren’t supposed to simply follow directions, copy worked examples, or do exactly what classmates are doing. Further, they often need permission to do things such as tackle the problems they understand first and circle back to the harder ones, rather than doing them in order—things the other two styles do naturally!
You’ve probably given choices before, but try these methods to ensure that the choices actually differentiate for students who learn in different ways.
Think about it. Would you rather “make” or “create”? “Discuss” or “debate”? “Solve” or “figure out”? You’ll find these motivating words for each Instruction Approach by clicking on their descriptions. Incorporate more than one word in directions. “Organize or assemble your notes.” “List or write about…” “Answer or elaborate on…”
Rethink class space. Are there standing desk-height” surfaces students might work at? Whiteboards where partners might collaborate rather than on a small screen? Carpet spots they might sit on while reading? Places simply to stand, especially if they’re really too big for long lengths of time in those desks with fixed arms? Yes, with privilege goes responsibility to not bother other students, but choice of place can go a long way in preempting students moving about when you least want them to.
If you’re posing six questions, allow students to answer five of six. If you’re assigning problems, have all students do, say, the first eight and give them a choice of the ninth or tenth. With this tiny bit of autonomy, many students choose to do all of them anyway!
Many cultures thrive on collaboration, not individuality. Consider opportunities beyond small group work where students can have the choice of working alone or with a partner. Ask them to reflect on the quality and efficiency of their work in both cases. When do they do their best work? What strategies might they use to improve when working alone? With a partner?
Whenever possible, provide both a structured and an open-ended alternative as a writing prompt—in any content area. Consider these pairings for ideas:
With more planning, you can give choices in content, processes, and products as long as all students reach the same learning goals and you provide choices that appeal to all four instructional approaches. But the four simple strategies above are immediately useful.
Differentiated instruction involves adjusting instruction for individual learners’ needs, styles, cultural values, and/or interests. Differentiation is a core foundation of equitable practices, yet about 85 percent of teachers report that it is difficult or nearly impossible to do in their classrooms with the tools they’ve been given.
Perhaps you’ve attended training to learn how to adjust the content students work with, or the processes they use to master that content, or the products they produce that demonstrate their mastery. These are sound principles for differentiation. However, they can be difficult to implement and, if not done appropriately, can actually create learning activities that serve to keep students at lower levels.
“Doable Differentiation” is an entirely different approach that involves just two steps. Using the cognitive processing framework (see also Visual Type) for differentiation gets at the root differences in the instructional approaches teachers employ and students find most natural. Rather than labeling what students can and can’t do, you’ll be using strategies to ensure that
About half of students need
action and interaction to learn
While the other half of students need
quiet and reflection to learn
You have both in your classroom.
The Doable Differentiation strategies ensure that both groups stay energized for the hard work of learning—without exhausting you!
About half of students want
structures and proven methods
The other half want
room to roam as they learn
Again, your classroom is filled with both.
Instructional approaches that provide students with information in the way they process it best is essential whenever they move into unfamiliar territory. The Doable Differentiation strategies help you understand how to meet those informational needs while at the same time giving students strategies to “Stretch” when content requires them to learn in ways that aren’t as comfortable.
The four combinations of how we are energized and take in information make up the four cognitive processes and the four Instructional Approaches that are the framework for Doable Differentiation.
Here are the two steps of “Doable Differentiation.”
Prestep: Clarify lesson goals. This isn’t the first of three steps, but rather an essential part of planning for equitable instruction. All too often, educators assume they’ve accomplished this by focusing on a standard or on a curriculum unit. Dig deeper. What will students learn to mastery? Clear learning objectives are crucial before adjusting instruction, or the content students will work with, or assignments, or assessments, to ensure that all learners are reaching the intended goals.
Step 1: Plan for the way you’d normally teach the materials or how the curriculum presents the materials. Teachers need to use their strengths and often also need to adhere to curriculum elements. Further, content should drive instruction. Think about these examples of how content drives use of the four cognitive processing styles we’ll incorporate.
You can’t learn science lab techniques without hands-on learning.
At some point, reading has to involve independent, silent reading.
Some content requires mastery through practice and even memorization.
Some content works best with collaborative, rigorous group activities.
However, it isn’t equitable nor advantageous to any student when course content is delivered via one style. So what should you do?
Step 2: Adjust for students who have different needs, or who just don’t think like you. Perhaps you’ve seen research that teaching to learning styles doesn’t improve student achievement (See Corwin Visible Learning website). Doable Differentiation incorporates a model of four different cognitive processes; we don’t all use our brains in quite the same way. However, instead of matching students with strategies that meet their processing styles, you’ll consider the best style for the content while ensuring that, over time, your classroom activities involve all the styles. Look back at the examples in Step 1—these illustrate how all students need to develop strategies for learning via all cognitive processes.
Consider the difference between these two student attitudes,
Doable differentiation fosters the second attitude in students.
Sometimes, every student does need to be doing the same thing at the same time. Be sure to keep an eye out, though, for whether you’re defaulting too much to your own style or the style favored by your curriculum. How much to differentiate? Enough to ensure no student becomes “allergic” to your class or a subject area! As you plan for instruction, deliberately decide when and how you will meet the needs of students with each cognitive process:
More information Differentiation through Personality Types (Corwin, 2007) Doable Differentiation (Solution Tree, in production)
Doable Differentiation suggests 13 strategies that help you meet the needs of all students. Most can be incorporated into existing lessons. Others go deeper for planning new lessons and units. Wait Time and Choice are the two easiest to implement.
“Listen-more-day” – Plan a “listen-more-day”. Reflect. Say only something when necessary. Give others time to answer and find peace in silence. Pause at least ten seconds longer than you normally would before you say something. Note what happens with the dynamics in the conversation.
Do not interrupt – For one day focus on not interrupting. Let people finish talking. Do not interrupt in the middle of an argument. Stop yourself if you accidently do it anyway. Get feedback from other people on how being interrupted affects them.
Listen to understand – Pick out a planned conversation. Listen to what the other person is saying. Practice staying attentive to his or her inputs rather than thinking of what you will say in response. Listen to the other person's point of view and describe what you heard before you allow yourself to talk about your perception and point of view.
Find peace of mind – Take lessons in meditation, breathing techniques or mindfulness. Practice. Set aside time each day or week to visit your inner world. Learn to feel comfortable in your own thoughts and feelings.
Spend time alone – Say “no” to a social activity or event you would normally say yes to. Make a list of things you like doing alone and do this instead. If you need inspiration, ask a friend who prefers I.
Clarify thoughts alone – Reflect on the importance of an experience or an event by yourself. Contemplate impressions by yourself. Make an important decision alone. Practice clarifying your thought without speaking to others.
Seek depth in conversation – Pick out a person at a social event and talk in depth about a subject one-on-one. Everyone has something they are better at than you or an interest in something you do not know about. Find out what it is and let them be the ones that talk the most.
Examine in dept – Identify various subjects that interest you. Instead of breadth go into depth with one of the subjects. Allow more time than you think is necessary. Be patient and "look for the nuances."
Create a framework for focus – Pick out a task to work on alone. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Plan your breaks and stick to them. Control your craving for variation. If you feel the urge to talk, talk to yourself.
Communicate in writing – Resist the temptation to choose verbal communication just because it is possible. Pick out three situations during the coming week where you would normally meet with or call a person and communicate in writing instead.
Think before you speak – Think through what you want to say and what your opinion is before you start talking. Consider writing down your thoughts, summarise and only convey the “essence” of what needs to be said.
Reflect before acting – Do not accept or engage in activities you would normally throw yourself into. Turn your thoughts inward and reflect whether it is the right thing to do as well as whether it is the right time and place.
"Sensing-day" – Plan a "sensing-day". Use your five senses for a whole day and focus on the real, the tangible, the observable. Note the details of real life. Be present in the moment and not in the future.
Stick to the issue – Pick out three conversations you have planned. During the conversation, focus 100% on the subject you are discussing. Push away any associations and do not interpret and “read between the lines”.
Facts – Read a short article or a memo, or ask a person who prefers S to tell you a story. Afterwards, write down the facts that were given. Crosscheck to see how accurate you were in retaining facts and not making inferences about the facts.
Focus on the details – Proofread this card (or something else) in detail. Read from the the bottom to the top, right to left, word by word. (Did you spot the error in the second line?)
Practice the details – Buy a big puzzle and use at least 20 minutes a day to put it together. Or develop a hobby that requires attention to detail such as knitting from a given pattern, cooking following the recipe closely or painting by numbers.
Follow the instructions – Practice reading and following step by step instructions. Follow an instruction manual at work, install and learn a new computer program or assemble a piece of LEGO or a piece of furniture from IKEA. Do things in the way shown in the instructions. Resist the urge to do it your own way or jump around.
Be realistic – Brainstorm and write down your ten best ideas. Pick out two or three ideas and write down how they could be implemented. Use facts to support the usefulness of the ideas. Are they realistic? Introduce the ideas to a person who prefers S. Request feedback.
Be concrete – Tell someone a story or tell about your day at work. Tell in a straightforward way what happened and communicate chronologically and in detail. Use literally concrete words. Avoid metaphors. If you use a figurative statement, convert it to a literal statement.
Task breakdown – Pick out a big task and break it down into small tasks. Write down. Make each task specific, actionable and in succession. Estimate how long time each task will take. Start from the beginning and finish each task before moving on to the next.
Resist the urge for change – Next time you notice something that needs changing, write down what is currently working. Avoid changes and "improvements" if there is no compelling reason to initiate them. Focus on only changing what is necessary.
Use routines – Make a note of what you do in the morning before leaving for work. How much of this is routine? Does having a routine make the mornings less complicated? Write down three different activities you do every day where implementing a routine would make life easier. Implement.
Use experience – Pick out a task or assignment to be performed at work or at home. Resist the urge to do it in a new and different way. Examine carefully how you or others have solved similar tasks before. Identify the hands-on experience that might be and apply the proven method. Reflect on the efficiency.
"Direct-speech day" – Plan a "direct-speech day" where you practice expressing yourself clearly about what you want. Avoid sugarcoating. Stand firm, even though others might disagree.
Map your communication style – Identify situations through your life where your communication style has been too indirect and led to confusion and irritation. Consider how you can minimise the negative impact of your communication style in the future. Practice.
Give critical feedback – Next time someone presents you with a possible solution to a problem, tell them which problems and flaws you see. Communicate clearly – do not apologise. Remind yourself that people can recover from hurt feelings, and that a bad decision or a task solved poorly can be much more harmful to them.
Be objective – Review a problem you have. Analyse to determine the cause of the problem and think of four possible ways you could take to solve the problem. List the consequences of each course of action. What are the pros and cons? Is the decision consistent with past decisions, and is it a reasonable precedent to set for future decisions?
Articulate "why" – Identify three decisions you have made recently. Logic shows the relationship between premises and conclusions – were the decisions logical? Analyse. Practice articulating "why" with focus on the underlying premises.
Uncover the logic – Pick out a conversation with others about an important topic/decision – focus on determining the underlying premises that are driving their reasoning. Ask questions until you find the arguments and conclusions are logically related.
Standard answers – Define three standard answers you can use in situations where you find it hard to say no. For example "That date sounds familiar. I need to check my calendar and get back to you." This gives you time to "prepare" your no.
Debate with yourself – Identify three situations in which you failed to draw the line – where you said yes instead of no. What were your thoughts and feelings? Write down what you were afraid would happen if you said no. Is there an objective reason for thinking that would happen?
Say no – Identify three typical situations where you find it hard to say no to others. Agree with yourself to say no the next time they occur – even though others may be disappointed. Accept the discomfort. Note how the other person reacts. If possible, request the other person's feedback on your "no".
Take yourself out of the equation – Identify an episode where you felt offended by something someone said to you. Consider which underlying premises may serve as a logical explanation for the remarks. Note how this review of the premises can change your emotional response to the episode.
Ask for objective feedback – Request objective feedback on a task you have solved. Prepare for critique. Listen with an open mind. Ask clarifying questions and ask for examples. Consider soberly what you want to do with the feedback. Could it actually make your problem solving better?
Compartmentalise – Think of the methods you use to separate a problem in your personal life from your work life (or the other way around). Apply those methods to other components of your life. Does it make life easier by logically compartmentalising parts of your life from each other?
Get it under control – Manage your tasks, appointments and obligations. Write everything down in your calendar and create a to do list. Set as a goal for the coming week to arrive at meetings and deliver input in good time. Begin working on your tasks right away. Do not postpone.
Schedule – Make a plan for the next day before leaving work. What would you like to achieve? Write it down. Estimate how long time each task will take and make an order of priority. Develop a plan for the coming week. Estimate. Prioritise. Follow the plan. Evaluate by the end of the week what went well and what can be done better. What are the benefits of planning?
Get tools – Take a training course on personal effectiveness. Learn the basic planning tools. Integrate them into your life in a way that fits your lifestyle.
Follow the rules – Sharpen your awareness of rules/procedures. Follow the rules for a week – in all aspects. Stay within the limits. If you want to do something that is not in accordance with the rules, ask for permission – not forgiveness.
Ask for feedback – Ask your family, colleagues and friends how it affects them when you are oblivious about time or agreements or are always working close to the deadline. Do they have concrete examples? What impression does it make on you?
Tidy up – Plan a tidy-up day at home and at work. Tidy up your home and your office following the motto "Everything has to stay in its own place!". Create order. Organise so it is easy to find things.
"Focus-day" – Plan a "focus-day". Complete all the tasks you have decided on getting done one at a time. Do not jump around by working on several tasks at the same time. Every time you think "There is plenty of time to ..." stop and reflect if you do actually have the time. Practice being a time realist.
Complete the task in good time – Pick out a major task. Finish the work at least four hours ahead of the deadline, then come back after two hours to see if you can improve it.
Sow before you reap – Adhere to the saying "you have to sow, before you can reap." For a week, force yourself to get all duties done. "Work before play". What are the benefits?
"J-day" – Plan a "J-day". Practice forming an opinion swiftly about absolutely everything – anytime and anywhere. Write down pros and cons of rapid decision making and eliminating uncertainty.
Be decisive – Make three decisions during the week as swiftly as possible. Do not postpone the decision to see if something else comes up, or because you want to explore something a little more. Decide on the basis of the available information (if you want to go to the conference, the meeting, the party, which option you like the best, etc.).
Resist the urge to reopen – The next time you want to reopen a decision already made, resist. Instead write down three good reasons why your decision was right.