Essay: Classrooms Are Diverse Environments

Pages: 8 (2226 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Students that most need supports to help them include students with language issues (English as a second language), students experiencing difficulties with motivation or behavior, and students with limited learning strategies, pre-requisite skills, or background knowledge (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). Learning standards and expectations must be maintained for these students in order to attain learning success, and the availability of specially designed supports enable these students to have access to the general course content and to appropriately express information learned and processed (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). Support availability is advantageous for all students, not only those that may be struggling, and there are 2 categories of supports as outlined by Lawrence-Brown (2004). The two categories include supports to aid students with diverse needs in accessing general education curriculum, and supports that help to structurally aid the differentiated curriculum (Lawrence-Brown, 2004).

In planning and implementing effective strategies for differentiated instruction, it is important that considerable attention is given to evaluating the effectiveness of lessons (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). Standard-appropriate assessment of students helps to establish baseline and ongoing measurements that can give valuable information to teachers regarding areas where instructional strategies are effective, as well as areas that could use some improvement. Systems of student record-keeping should be kept simple and organized in order to promote easy, regular use of assessments within the classroom (Lawrence-Brown, 2004).

Shifting to differentiated instruction in classrooms necessitates a lot of change for teachers, students, and administrators. As with all types of change, sometimes consequences arise that are intended and may have effects that considered as negative. In the planning and development of instructional strategies it is important for those involved in professional development to remain cognizant of the certain un-intended results and prevent them from causing any issues (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). One consequence to be avoided is unintentional tracking within the classroom by the use of fixed groups based on ability, which can be avoided by creating student group based on interests (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). Another consequence to be avoided is focusing entirely on learning ability of students and not remaining aware of learning styles, multiple intelligences, diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as abilities in the creative arts (Lawrence-Brown, 2004). In fact, the arts can be used as a highly effective vehicle for the delivery of lessons across a broad array of subject matter. Students are encouraged through arts-based learning to develop these skills and express learned knowledge in ways that are not available through conventional curriculum delivery (Lawrence-Brown, 2004).

In regards to school administrators and school districts, there are certain recommendations that could most effectively promote a successful shift to differentiated instruction in the classroom. Holloway (2000) described how teachers need clear models for this new type of curriculum and how to put differentiated instruction into practice. He also stressed the importance of mentoring in order to aid teachers in understanding the needs of students, as well as the necessity for teachers to feel comfortable and supported in the implementation of these new differentiated instructional strategies (Holloway, 2000).

Overall, differentiated instruction in the classroom contributes not only to the healthy learning and growth of individuals, but it also extends to the well-being of the community and society as a whole. This concept is effectively summarized by Santamaria & Thousand (2004), who outlined what they called "Six Principles of Whole Schooling." These principles include: the promotion of democracy through the empowerment of citizens; inclusion of all regardless of ability, skill, or background; the provision of instruction that addresses all levels and is authentic; the building of strong communities; active support of learning; and a cooperative relationship between parents and the community at large (Santamaria & Thousand, 2004). Development of differentiated instructional strategies based in these principles leads to effective learning outcomes for students presenting diverse needs.

References

Hall, T., Strangman, N., Meyer, A. (2011). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation: effective classroom practices report. National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum, retrieved 19 October, 2011 from http://aim.cast.org/learn/historyarchive/backgroundpapers/differentiated_instruction_udl.

Holloway, J.H. (2000). Preparing teachers for differentiated instruction, Educational Leadership, September, 82-3.

Kyriakides, L. & Tsangaridou, N. (2008). Towards the development of generic and differentiated models of educational effectiveness: a study on school and teacher effectiveness in physical education. British Educational Research Journal, 34(6), 807-38.

Lawrence-Brown, D. (2004). Differentiated instruction: inclusive strategies for standards-based learning that benefit the whole class. American Secondary… [END OF PREVIEW]

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