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Differentiation



A Look at Twelve Brain Principles: It's All About Learning


According to Carol Ann Tomlinson (1998), “Three principles from brain research-emotional safety, appropriate challenge and self-constructed meaning-suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to classroom teaching is ineffective for most students and harmful to some”. The research on the brain and learning is capsulated in these twelve principles distilled from a meta-analysis of the literature by Renate and Geoffrey Caine. The twelve principles provide a rich philosophical foundation for differentiating instruction. They are, in essence, the broad-brush strokes that guide the everyday decisions teacher make about instructional input, student groupings, curricular designs and the range of assessments used in classrooms today.


Brain Compatible Classrooms


Parents, educators and students are intrigued with the emergent knowledge of how the brain/mind remembers and learns.  They want to know how to design more brain-friendly classrooms and how to tap into the talents of the youngsters in their care. They want to understand the art and the science of brain-based learning and how it impacts curriculum, instruction and assessment.  They want the whole picture of the human brain and how it learns.  Using a palette of brain-friendly strategies, participants learn how to blend the teaching/learning process into rich, rigorous and relevant learning for increased achievement.


Cooperative Learning:  A Standard for High Achievement


“Cooperative Learning is the #1 strategy to increase student achievement and to enhance self esteem?”(Johnson and Johnson, Circles of Learning). That’s why a repertoire of cooperative strategies must permeate K-College classroom practice.  Cooperative learning taps into both the cognitive and the affective domains.  It impacts positively on both academic achievement and self-esteem.  Kids working in cooperative groups learn as they talk and share ideas with other.  Kids working as part of a team learn as they collaborate and feel a sense of belonging.


Designs for Cooperative Interactions


Teachers can make their lectures more interactive by incorporating cooperative designs into their lessons.  Based on the dual concepts of active and engaged learners, there are twelve cooperative interactions that can weave into the instructional repertoire of the k12 classroom teacher.  Beginning with subtle models of cooperative interaction (rhetorical questions), moving to partner work, (think pair share) and then sharing deeply involving models, the session explores a range of cooperative structures from the simple ones to the more complex ones. In the end, the repertoire is rich and diverse.


Differentiating Learning: A Brain Friendly Strategy


Facilitating differentiated instruction is not about teaching louder and slower. It’s about a robust instructional repertoire. It’s about having an assortment of teaching tools and techniques to meet the diverse needs of students. It’s about different strokes for different folks, and about different entry points and end points to learning!  According to Carol Ann Tomlinson (1998), “Three principles from brain research-emotional safety, appropriate challenge and self-constructed meaning-suggest that a on-size-fits-all approach to classroom teaching is ineffective for most students and harmful to some”. Differentiation is about change, challenge, and choice in today’s classroom:  Change the content!  Change the process! Change the product!  It’s about student readiness, student interests and student learning profiles. It’s about the opportunity to learn through the many ways of knowing and expressing what one knows. Differentiation is about standards-based learning and high quality teaching.


Differentiated Learning: Targeting Top Performers


According to Carol Ann Tomlinson (1998), “Three principles from brain research-emotional safety, appropriate challenge and self-constructed meaning-suggest that a on-size-fits-all approach to classroom teaching is ineffective for most students and harmful to some”.  Differentiation is about change, challenge, and choice in today’s classroom:  Change the content!  Change the process! Change the product!  It’s about student readiness, student interests and student learning profiles. It’s about challenging students to reach the high end of the learning continuum that calls for more independent work, open-ended issues to tackle, and products and performances that are transforming.


Higher Order Thinking:  Challenging All Students to Achieve


"Schools-and especially teachers, it turns out-really DO make a difference…the more rigorous the curriculum, the better children perform.  Expectations matters!  Rigor matters"  (Katy Haycock, The Education Trust, Good Teaching Matters). That’s why great teachers set high expectations that challenge and engage the minds of all of their students.  That’s why great teachers seek curriculum models that cause students to inquire and investigate. That’s why great teachers use the critical and creative skills of higher order thinking (HOT) to meet the standards of learning.


Multiple Intelligences: Many Kinds of Minds


Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences has shaken the rafters of the schoolhouse.  His thinking has impacted profoundly on the concept of an inherited and static I.Q. Traditional thinking about a singular, general intelligence has given way to the concept of a spectrum of intelligences.  In this session, participants experience eight ways of knowing and expressing what they know about their world.  As they try on the verbal, visual, mathematical, musical, inter and intra personal and the naturalist intelligences, participants plot a graph of their own "jagged profiles of intelligences".   In turn, they learn how to use the strategy back home, in the staff room or in the classroom to build diverse, high functioning teams.