Professional Development Essay

Final ProjectEDU 673 Instruct. Strat. for Differentiated Teach & Learn

My Professional Development Plan definitely demonstrates my commitment to personal and professional growth within the classroom. Since I have spent many hours working with children in the school setting, I am confident about my plan. I believe if it implemented correctly and followed through, I will be able to experience positive outcomes in the classroom.

The areas I will address are the proper mindset and learning environment, curriculum and differentiation, assessment and differentiation, student readiness and differentiation, student learning profile and differentiation, and managing a differentiated classroom.
Mindset, learning environment, and differentiation
It has been stated, ?Mindsets are the assumptions, expectations, and beliefs that guide our behavior and our interaction with others.” I believe this is a true statement and this is necessary in order to have a differentiated classroom. The proper mindset can affect a student?s well-being and academic success. The proper mindset will ensure that students? social and economic needs are met. These must be met before any learning can begin. Students must feel that they have a sense of belonging. Student must also be encouraged to reach their potential. The proper mindset will allow the teacher to view each diverse child as one capable of learning. Various strategies will have to implement in class lessons to ensure that all students are reached ? various students and various methods will be required. My professional development plan will be based on creating a learning environment that is conducive to learning.
Curriculum and differentiation
Curriculum is the content information; that is the subject matter this is taught. In such a diverse society, there is no one size fits all class. That being the case, differentiation is a must. After all, students learn differently; they also grasp material at different points in time. Differentiation ensures that all learners learn the required and age-appropriate content. Through differentiation, the same material is taught through the use of various strategies, methods, and techniques.

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There are many teaching strategies that can be used in the classroom. Some lesson might have to be teacher-centered; however, most should be student centered. This will create opportunities for discovery and constructivism. This will also be the vehicle to creating classroom discussions that will involve critical thinking as applications of skills are demonstrated. When completing an assignment, student can be given the co curriculum, students can have material assigned or it can be chosen by them.

Assessment and differentiation
More than one type of assessment is important because students learn differently. That being the case, more than one type of informal and formal assessment should be implemented in a lesson. This gives a teacher a chance to check for understanding as different learning styles are addressed. While some students perform well on a paper and pencil test; others might do better with a performance assessment. Some students might do better preparing an oral report or a project. All of these areas addresses student learning. That being the case, one is not necessary better than the other. When assessments are differentiated, teachers learn a lot about each individual student. It also gives exposure to many avenues of learning.
Teachers can differentiate by using methods that are based on the student’s needs. Differentiation of assessments creates an opportunity for students to demonstrate thinking before, during, and after instruction. The main purpose of an assessment is to determine what a student knows or can do, while evaluation is used to determine the worth or value of a course or program. This information can be used to make decisions about other instructional strategies and curriculum.
Student readiness and differentiation
Student readiness is a student?s academic standing/progress That is, they simply do what seems right for their students. Generally, intuition begins the process, and over time teachers learn from their successes and failures, refining what they do as they go along. Thus when we ask teachers how they plan a differentiated lesson in response to student readiness, their answers are often a bit vague: ?I just try to match the tasks to the students’ readiness level,? or ?I put them in groups I think will work.? Clarity about differentiation by readiness can hone and refine good instincts, giving the teacher a greater sense of comfort with readiness differentiation and providing students more appropriate learning experiences. .One frequently used differentiated strategy for teaching or re-teaching is through mini-workshops or small group instruction. In this strategy, students are pre-assessed to determine their understanding of a particular skill, concept, or topic ? for example, use complex sentences, define mitosis, multiply by two-digits, or identify the main idea of a reading selection. Based on this information, you might pull a small group of students who need additional support to hone this learning and conduct a mini-workshop to assist them. Or you might pull advanced level students to introduce them to more complex learning.

Another differentiated strategy is tiered instruction. This is when you create several versions of an assignment to appeal to different ability levels, and then assign the appropriately leveled task to individuals or small groups. A pre-assessment will provide information about which level of the assignment is best-suited for each student or groups of students. These previous examples highlight differentiation for readiness level, but you can also pre-assess students in terms of learning style or interest and provide assignment choices so students can work within their preferred learning mode or area of interest.
You can differentiate for process by questioning to appeal to students? interests and also readiness. Questions for advanced learners are those that contain more depth and complexity; however, all learners are given questions that address the overarching concepts of a given lesson or unit. Some of the many other ways to differentiate for process include developing various learning centers, journal prompts, lab experiments, and project choices.
Any activity or lesson that you conduct in the process stage constitutes practice so students have the opportunity to use the content and construct clear understandings. Throughout this critical time of teaching, it is prudent to continually assess how well students are doing and adjust as appropriate. You will feel the need to formulate your own system of accountability; however, do not over-grade these types of assessments as the emphasis is on practice. A tangible formative assessment for an activity might be a journal write response, math problem of the week write-up, or outline. A less concrete albeit critical indicator of how students are faring in their understanding is through observing their participation in small group tasks and whole group discussion. When you consistently and consciously employ formative (or ongoing) assessment throughout the entire course of a unit, you are able to offer learning that best meets students? needs by possibly pulling small groups to re-teach or enrich, revising a lesson, or varying the pace of instruction.
Student interest (topic of discussion – learning style/profile) I will create a blog for my class as the kids developed their writing; we transitioned from journal post to published writing in various genres. I’m interested in knowing who loves to read. I wonder which students will dive into writing! Will they love to blog? What are their interests? I created a student interest survey to complete with the kids on the first day of school. I am eager to see which student is willing to post their answers on our class blog!
Managing a differentiation classroom Differentiated education systems are systems in which students learn at their own pace rather than at a pace mandated by the curriculum. They study things that they are interested in and do not move on until they have mastered their topic. This creates an environment where education feels more applicable to the children, thus motivating them more. It also creates a situation where above-average kids are not held back and below-average kids are not forced along. Classroom management in these situations is different from classroom management in standard situations because everyone is doing something different. This means different classroom management strategies need to be followed.
Student Information
One key way to manage a differentiated classroom is to understand your students. Since differentiated instruction is all about the individual student, the teacher needs to understand what the students’ interests are, what their background is and what motivates them. These things are not static, either–since they change regularly, a teacher should regularly talk his students to keep tabs on these things. This helps you manage the classroom by understanding the individual needs and motivations of each individual student, which helps create differentiated curricula for them.
Work Organization
Since differentiated classrooms rely so heavily on self-direction, it is extremely important that a student be able to find her materials quickly and easily every single day. So, to manage this and make sure that you don’t waste valuable time with students looking for their materials, you should stress organization at the beginning of the year and on a regular basis throughout the year. This will help you manage your classroom by reducing the amount of chaos and potential for students to get off-task.
Incremental Independence
Differentiated learning doesn’t happen overnight, particularly if students have been in traditional learning environments in the past. So, you should gradually differentiate and offer independent tasks rather than making the entire class independent at once. Start with a quick five-minute task, such as writing in a journal, and then gradually increase the length and frequency of the independent tasks to foster initiative and self-direction.
If students are independent but do not know what is expected of them, they will have no real reason to work. Differentiated learning is still learning, albeit independent learning rather than dependent, teacher-centric learning. So, one way to manage independent work is to set expectations–even if you’re not going to be over students’ shoulders, they still need to have a certain amount of work done in the long term. For the journal task mentioned above, you could set five minutes of journal time a week, but never check it. However, once a month you could pick up all their journals and expect four entries. If you make these expectations clear to students, they are more likely to follow through on them rather than just writing in their journal for its own sake. Differentiated classroom management does not mean chaos in the classroom. It does not mean tolerating inappropriate behavior from students. It does mean taking into account the needs, capabilities and limitations of the individual student. For example, one or two students may be the only ones who have permission to listen to music through headphones while completing worksheets if they are more productive when background noise is blocked out for them. Another student may be given special permission to get out of her seat and walk around the classroom if that helps increase her concentration. This does not mean that all of the students are entitled to wander about and do as they please. It does mean that individual student differences are being taken into account so each student can maximize his concentration and learning.



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