BC: The End
FC: Learner Differences Eileen Conroy TOH Module 4 April 28,2008
1: One possible way for schools to handle differences in academic ability is to form whole classes based on ability. This strategy is more commonly known as "tracking". Tracking students requires students to be placed in a class setting where the academic abilities are fairly equal. | When choosing a high school, I became aware of a local private school that actual creates tracks of a, b, and c. You are placed in a track depending on your abilities and it was uncommon that you ever changed tracks over the next four years. Being in the "a" track would be equivalent to taking an honors course. ADVANTAGES: * The students tend to learn at the same pace, allowing the teacher to customize to the students' needs as a whole group. * Students that need to be challenged don't "wait in line" while the struggling students need the teacher's assistance. DISADVANTAGES: * There is a lack of scaffolding among the class. *Tracks tend to become badges of honor or shame. *Students tend to rise only to the expectations you present them with.
2: A second way to address learner differences is to create temporary groups based on learner level within a large group. You can do this in a classroom setting by using guided centers or literature circles. | ADVANTAGES: *Students are locked into one group because it is subject based. *Each group can move at their own appropriate pace. *Opportunity for scaffolding still exists as a whole group. | DISADVANATAGES: * Scaffolding still suffers within the small groups. * Groups tend to carry negative connotations and can damage self-esteem. * Extremely time consuming to plan. | DISADVANATAGES: * Scaffolding still suffers within the small groups. * Groups tends to carry negative connotations and can damage self-esteem. * Extremely time consuming to plan. | DISADVANATAGES: * Scaffolding still suffers within the small groups. * Groups tend to carry negative connotations and can damage self-esteem. * Extremely time consuming to plan.
3: Yet another way to group learners when addressing learner differences is to group by subject, not age. This approach supports multi-age classrooms. ADVANTAGES: * Students can achieve their true potential with fewer restrictions than the traditional classroom. * With a variety of ages and experience comes unending scaffolding. DISADVANTAGES: * Maturity levels will vary more significantly in a multi-age classroom creating possible behavior issues. * Multi-age classrooms could foster social difficulties for certain students and be intimidating to others.
4: Which of these scenarios would be best with respect to appropriate and meaningful integration of technology for differentiation and why? | I believe all these scenarios could foster appropriate and meaningful integration of technology for differentiation. Technology in any of the scenarios would benefit both the teacher and the students. Technology could help to better manage tracked groups and small grouping as well as multi- age groups. As in any classroom setting, technology can enrich the learning experiences as well as reinforce concepts being taught. | Examples for Technology in the classroom: * Teachers can use video to create instructional DVD's to help reinforce concepts or catch up studnets who miss lessons. These DVD's can also become part of learning centers. * Children could also use video to complete small group projects or assignments. Other tools such as podcasts, vodcasts, or web 2.0 tools. The students could take these technology projects to varying levels matching their abilities and interests. * Webquests can cater to students' different learning levels. This could allow for a whole group to study a topic, but with varying difficulty. * Electronic books and Ipods can also be used to differentiate reading for students with special needs.
5: Examples for Technology in the Classroom: * Teachers can use video to create instructional DVD's to help reinforce concepts or catch up students who miss lessons. These DVD's can also become part of learning centers. * Children could also use video to complete small group projects or assignments. Other tools such as pod casts, vodkas, or web 2.0 tools. The students could take these technology projects to varying levels matching their abilities and interests. * Web quests can cater to students' different learning levels. This could allow for a whole group to study a topic, but with varying difficulty. * Electronic books and Ipods can also be used to differentiate reading for students with special needs.
6: Although each approach to grouping students has both their advantages and disadvantages, they all provide a plethora of opportunities to incorporate technology. Technology used correctly, can truly enhance and enrich any learning environment. Just like each class grouping, individual learners also have their strengths and weaknesses. Each student regardless of their academic ability has a unique learning style that best fits their intelligences. Today's technology is very versatile and can be customized to the many styles of learning as well as the multiple intelligences.
7: In the article "Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education" by Mark Smith, it states, "Howard Earl Gardner's work has been marked by a desire not to just describe the world but to help to create the conditions to change it." Today's education is not to just bestow knowledge upon its vast community of learners, but to help prepare them for our ever-changing society. As teachers we are in the business of facilitating the development of our future problem solvers. Students must be active thinkers and not just a bank of knowledge that they do not know how to apply. Knowledge that cannot be applied is useless. Smith also states, " It (Gardner's notion of multiple intelligences) has helped a significant number of educators to question their work and to encourage them to look beyond the narrow confines of the dominant discourses of skilling, curriculum, and testing." I believe I am one of those educators Smith is referring to.
8: Upon learning about Gardner’s multiple intelligences while working on my elementary education degree, it did encourage me to look beyond the tradition confines of education that I had experienced as a child. That being said, I truly enjoy the diversity of my students’ learning styles. It creates a classroom richer in independent thinkers with a variety of experiences. Having a diverse classroom does however present quite the challenge for the teacher. In this type of learning environment, I have found that the teacher must become a facilitator and allow the students to not only learn from the teacher, but from their peers. This is easier in theory but still possible, however there are days that I wish I could clone myself. In my personal experience, I find that the students who most likely suffer in such a diverse group are my students who are eager to excel beyond the curriculum.
9: The two major challenges that these students face are state testing and competing for teacher guidance with those students who can’t work as independently. Differentiating lessons can be extremely time | consuming, but with the help of technology it is becoming easier in my classroom. All the complications a diverse classroom can impose are worth it when you witness a student’s accomplishments and then how they become a facilitator for a fellow student. Smith concludes, “…(Multiple intelligences) have given educators a basis to broaden their focus and to attend to what might assist people to live their lives well, then it has to be judged a useful addition.” Education is about enriching people’s lives.