Hence, students love the idea of deciding the type of work they will showcase. The teacher should encourage them to keep work that demonstrates their level of progression within a given time period. This reveals diverse and special needs of students, as well as talents. It is important for them to feel comfortable with this process and to feel ownership for their own work. Furthermore, teachers should highly regard the assessment piece, which becomes a part of daily instruction. Students reflect on their capabilities, their understanding of the material, plus it aids in their personal development. This is a true moral and self-esteem booster!
b. Invite outside speakers and plan field trips to pique student interest - Guest speakers offer different perspectives on topics and are often much better equipped to talk about how things happen and work in the professional world for which the students are preparing (Wolfe, n.d.).
However, it can also lead to a lost opportunity if students do not prepare ahead of time. Guests are only visiting for a limited amount of time, and they are coming to class on their own time as a service to the community of practice. Therefore, prepare students to actively engage with the speaker so that guests do not feel that their time and expertise is not appreciated. Additionally, field trips offer another opportunity for students to connect classroom material with real-world scenarios. Hence, it is paramount to connect a lesson with an outing so students may encounter a meaningful learning experience.
Timetable: Perhaps, offering guest speakers and fieldtrips once a quarter or once a semester may be sufficient; this depends upon the nature of the topic and student base.
Obstacles: At times, coordination efforts are overwhelming. Solicit the help of others to create a fun experience for the teacher and students.
Student Learning Profile & Differentiation
a. Incorporate multimedia & real-world issues - the new millennium was ushered in by a dramatic technological revolution. Society now lives in an increasingly diverse, globalized, and complex, media-saturated society. This technological revolution will have a greater impact on society than the transition from an oral to a print culture. Today's kindergarteners will be retiring in the year 2067. Society has no idea of what the world will look in five years, much less 60 years, yet society is charged with preparing students for life in that world. Today's students are facing many emerging issues such as global warming, famine, poverty, health issues, a global population explosion and other environmental and social issues. These issues lead to a need for students to be able to communicate, function, and create change personally, socially, economically and politically on local, national and global levels. Even kindergarten children can make a difference in the world by participating in real-life, real-world service learning projects. One is never too young, or too old, to make his or her voice heard and create change that makes the world a better place. Emerging technologies and resulting globalization also provide unlimited possibilities for exciting new discoveries and developments such as new forms of energy, medical advances, restoration of environmentally ravaged areas, communications, and exploration into space and into the depths of the oceans. The possibilities are unlimited. Schools in the 21st century will be laced with a project-based curriculum for life aimed at engaging students in addressing real-world problems, issues important to humanity, and questions that matter. This is a dramatic departure from the factory-model education of the past. It is abandonment, finally, of textbook-driven, teacher-centered, paper and pencil schooling. It means a new way of understanding the concept of knowledge, a new definition of the educated person. A new way of designing and delivering the curriculum is required.
b. Schedule 1:1 time with each student - the conferencing piece is indeed valuable! It provides insights into the learner's way of thinking, what strategies he or she actually use, and what strategies will help him or her to become better readers (Lipton & Hubble, 2008). Meeting 1:1 builds relationships and promotes students' engagement in their own self-assessment and learning. Students like to have this quality time with the teacher. it's creates trust and the students feel validated and honored by having had personal attention from teacher; insomuch, the teacher gets to know the students well. Additionally, the teacher will gain a better sense of who is and is not engaged.
Timetable: This should occur throughout the school year. Perhaps, scheduling individual conferences mid-quarter will allow enough time to address performance issues.
Obstacles: Above goals will require a great deal of time management to be successful. However, careful planning with effective tools will overcome this issue.
Managing a Differentiated Classroom
a. Organize, organize, organize - While decorations help create a warm environment, organization of the furniture in the room is also important. There should be enough space for all students to easily move throughout the classroom. Teachers should consider the use of universal design. Universal design is designing products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for modification or specialized design. Universal design for instruction is a set of principles that help in the process of designing the classroom environment and instruction so that they are contributing to the learning of all students (Samuels, 2007). Teachers should apply the strategy of universal design for learning to make sure that activities, materials, and equipment are physically accessible and usable by all students. Teachers should also expand safety procedures to all students, including those who are identified with a disability, and when teaching, repeat printed directions orally (Sterling, 2009).
b. Contact parents/guardians to praise or to raise concerns - a parent/teacher conference, albeit face-to-face, email, or phone call, is a time when important people in a student's life can talk about how that student is doing in school. It is a chance for to express concerns or to ask questions about the class or the student's progress. It is also a time to develop a rapport to work together as a team to discuss ways both can help the student. Forming an alliance is the best offense for future performance issues. When discussing the conference with the student afterward, stress the good things that were covered and be direct about problems that were identified. If an action plan is in place, explain to the student what was arranged. Stay in touch with the parent to discuss the student's progress. Express appreciation as progress is made. A good way to promote a continuing relationship with the parent is to say "thank-you" with a note or a telephone call. Continuing to keep in touch with the parent, even if things are going well, can play an important role in helping the student do better in school. When a student knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the student will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort.
Timetable: This should occur throughout the school year.
Obstacles: Daily classroom management may impede the best of intentions. Designate time daily for communication, and keep a communication log of all contact.
Professional development results in a demonstrated increase in teaching staff knowledge and understanding, teaching staff skillfulness, and teaching staff professional values. Activities and experiences are assessed on an on-going and continuous basis for intended impact. Defensible evaluation tools/methods must be used to determine modifications to planned activities/experiences. Content of courses, workshops, and other professional development experiences should be directly related to enriching teacher knowledge, to improving the use and application of appropriate teaching techniques, to broadening and enhancing teacher abilities to apply more accurate and appropriate assessment methodologies, and to enhancing teacher skills in effectively managing individual students and classroom in both heterogeneous and homogeneous settings.
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