This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.
Check out the rest of the series.
Now that we have looked at the theories and concepts behind differentiated instruction, let’s see what it looks like in the classroom itself. I am not a classroom teacher, so I will rely on the best. Scholastic Publishers has a fantastic resources for teachers. This article was excerpted from the Scholastic Professional title, Differentiating Reading Instruction, by Laura Robb and can be found at http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-differentiated-instruction.
I have taken a few excerpts to give the gist of the article, but I highly recommend you read the original.
Step Inside The Classroom
“So what does differentiated reading instruction look like? I invite you to step inside my eighth-grade classroom at the beginning of my reading workshop. After a brief warm-up exercise, and a read aloud for enjoyment, I introduce an essential component of my approach to differentiated reading instruction “” the teaching read aloud. To be certain that I am reaching every student in my class, I use the read aloud to model how I apply reading strategies and to show students how to use questioning, discussion, and writing to build comprehension and new understandings while reading (Beck & McKeown, 1997, 2006; Robb, 2000, 2003). In fact, the read aloud has become the common mentor or teaching text for my students, and a primary teaching tool. In addition, I use it as a catalyst to raise students”™ awareness of issues and to build background knowledge.
“As you observe lessons in my classroom, you’ll also note that the reading strategies I”™m modeling relate to inferential thinking “” using facts and details to discover unstated meanings and new understandings. These are the important strategies that all students “” not just proficient readers “” need. Not only will these important strategies help students do well on tests, but “” even more gratifying “” they will make reading joyful and exciting. My experiences with teaching students who are reading below grade level continue to show me that although these students may have difficulty reading, they are capable of inferring, drawing conclusions, and making connections to characters, events, people, and information. My read aloud shows that struggling readers can think at high levels. When I provide them with books at their instructional levels, they also know that they can analyze and think while they read. Understandably, learners falter when teachers ask them to infer and analyze texts they can”™t decode and comprehend.”
Practices to Differentiate Reading Instruction
“What you saw in your “visit” to my classroom are practical ways I differentiate to improve my students”™ literacy. In the list below, I”™ve summarized these important elements and added a few other practices, such as planning, that are key to differentiating reading instruction successfully. In subsequent chapters of this book, we”™ll take a closer look at these elements and explore ways to integrate them into your lessons so you can support every student you teach.”
She elaborates with nine methods that work in the classroom. Check out the article for indepth discussion of all nine. These are just a few of my favorites.
- Make your read alouds a common teaching text.
- Teach with diverse materials.
- Organize for instruction so you meet all reading levels.
- Value independent practice reading.
- Show students how to construct meaning while reading.
- Encourage discussion.
If you have any ideas, methods, or techniques for differentiated instruction, start a conversation with a comment. Our next and final step in this mini-series is Personalized Storytelling.