In order for students to learn and master specific concepts, teachers need to be knowledgeable about the diverse ways/strategies are required to assist in the learning process. The following three online sources from Making a Difference (Alberta Education, ERLC and PSD), ASCD and SchoolsMovingUp provide valid professional development in the area of differentiated instruction.
1) Making a Difference – Teachers are familiar with Alberta Education’s DI resource Making a Difference: Meeting diverse learning needs with differentiated instruction, however they may not be familiar with the webinars and locally produced conversation guides that also accompany the book. Over the past year, ERLC has hosted webinars focusing on specific parts of this book. Our own Learning Services group, enhanced these webinars by created Conversation Guides to accompany each of the webinars. Now both administrators and teachers are able to utilize particular parts of a webinar through following the suggested activities within the Guides. These resources (book, webinars, guides) provide an Alberta context for DI instruction, information and strategies to better meet the diverse learning needs of all students.
2) ASCD – Differentiated Instruction Topic Website – Here teachers and administrators will find a wealth of information in the form of articles, books, strategies, multimedia, conferences and courses. For the most part, one can utilize the resources displayed but for some, an ASCD membership is required. (Check with your administrator as they may already be an ASCD member if you need further information.)
3) SchoolsMovingUp – This is another of my favorite sites that hosts many free webinars, and shares research-based strategies and resources. A quick search of their site reveals a number of DI webinars brimming with information.
Assessing individual and class progress assists teachers in determining appropriate learning points for their students within the subject area being studied. Students do not progress at the same rate and assessing their learning provides pertinent data to guide differentiated instruction. Ongoing and timely feedback throughout this
learning process will cater to students’ learning needs and ensure deeper understanding of the subject area.
Suggested questions (provided by LearnAlberta in their Math Teaching Strategies area) that teachers might ask themselves include:
- Do my students understand what they need to improve?
- Do I know what is essential about the concept I am introducing to students?
- Do I know how to adjust my teaching to meet my students’ needs better so they can take their next steps with increased, deepened understanding?
By designing engaging differentiated tasks and activities based on what their students understand, what the outcomes are, what subject specific concepts are being addressed and how early years/middle years/high schools learn, teachers will capture the best learning environment possible.
The three PD resources of Making a Difference (Alberta Education, ERLC and PSD), ASCD and SchoolsMovingUp provide a solid basis in understanding what DI is, how it can be used in the classroom and why it is a successful framework for learning.