Tag Archives: differentiation

To Differentiate Is To Do Your Job

16 Feb

A very important aspect of teaching is differentiation.  It is something that has a wide spectrum of how you can do it, as some people do it without even thinking, and there are times when it is crucial to plan for differentiation.  The important thing to remember is that not every student is the same, so why should we teach them all the same way.  Why should we expect to have students learn the same way and learn to the same point and at the same speed?

There are many reasons to differentiate.  Students come from all types of backgrounds, and it is important to know your students.  Knowing where they are coming from and why they act the way they do can give great insight on the way you can give the best instruction possible for the student.  Many of the practices that teachers have are for their own benefit.  Keeping students at the same level, busy work, and many other things are done for the teacher and not the student.  Teachers need to adapt to their students, not the other way around.

A tool that we talked about that I found most beneficial is learning contracts.  Putting students in control of their learning would make a big difference on their attitude of their learning.  I think that it would give them more confidence and desire to do the learning themselves.  Having things like graphic organizers is also  important.  Some people need to have that extra step shown to them, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t understand the concept.  If a student doesn’t know their multiplication table from day one, is it necessary to punish them for that?  If they don’t have that resource to look back on, their confidence and comfort in the math is going to drop and so will their attention and involvement.  An important thing that was said in class was about whether or not you should let a student use these tools during a test.  Our teacher said “I wouldn’t make you take your glasses off during a test, that’s a tool that helps you learn”.  If we teach using the tool it is also important to test with the tool.

Just like “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” neither does our teaching.

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“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein

12 Feb

What affects a person’s ability to do something?  The attitude one has can drastically alter whether or not you can be successful at what you are doing.  This brings on a big question for me: What is success?  What would life be like if we didn’t have any successes?

Today I watched an incredible movie, Gattaca, and when I watch movies I tend to write down my favourite quotes from the movie.  This was by far my favourite.

You are the authority on what is not possible, aren’t you Irene? They’ve got you looking for any flaw, that after a while that’s all you see. For what it’s worth, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. It is possible.

When we focus on the things that people do wrong we are doing a very harmful thing.  We aren’t giving them the support they deserve to do everything to their full potential.  Something I try to keep in mind often is that a person’s “full potential” isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s in the room.

Every child needs to see success in their life.  If there is no success, that leaves a lot of room for failure.  Seeing this success, in any way possible, is what will be beneficial for a student, and will want them to learn.  I am not saying it needs to be extrinsic either, but I don’t think it needs to be entirely intrinsic either.  When someone does something good they should be told they did so.  It would be nice to think that everyone does things for the intrinsic motivation of a job well done, an although that is something I would love to strive towards, there are still going to be students that need some kind of extrinsic motivation.  If someone never see’s success in their learning, what will motivate them to continue?

The movie was genetically altering genes and what could happen in response to that.  It gives a huge insight, considering how far technology has come and the possibilities are endless.  It makes me think that regardless of how good something seems to be, there is still going to be negative consequences.  We could alter ourselves to be the most perfect humans in the world, and everyone would be the same.  This would mean that we are all trying to be the best there is.  The thing is though, in a competition, someone has to win, and thus someone else has to lose.  You could be perfect and still “fail”.

“[…] we now have discrimination down to a science.” – Gattaca

Discrimination comes in all forms.  When we judge someone by their ability before they even can give you the chance to show you, we are limiting the endless possibilities of things they could do.  The way school is set up it set up, if you don’t fit the perfect mold of a student, you are being set up for failure.  People slip through the cracks and just because they aren’t a “perfect student” does not mean they can’t do anything.  We need to focus on what someone can do, rather than what they can’t.