The first article for today’s reading focused on the importance of differentiation in the classroom, which is basically teaching in a way that acknowledges student differences and caters to the students’ individual as well as group needs. The idea of flexibility thus presents itself in the form of the teacher’s flexibility for noticing and catering to such differences, rather than teaching in a “one size fits all” way. The article touched a lot on the fact that in today’s classroom, there is more and more diversity–learning disabilities, poverty, and language barriers are just a few examples for why students are needing extra attention and differentiation. When a teacher is understanding that her students learn in different ways, the students will better flourish and succeed as their own individual needs are being fulfilled. This article also brought up an interesting point that teachers should avoid grouping students always with those of the same level, but should instead try to group students by varied levels of learning so that lower level students aren’t “stuck” at the bottom, with little to no chance of working their way up. It might be comfortable for teachers to want to group students based on their learning abilities, but learning to be flexible for the sake for the students will ultimately lead to student success.
The second article focused more on the students’ flexibility in the classroom, through the notion of cooperative learning. Two main aspects are required in order to maintain cooperative learning and this is positive interdependence and individual accountability. Although the teacher plays a major role in maintaining cooperative learning structures, the students themselves are in charge of working together as a group through bringing their own ideas to the table as well as listening and understanding multiple points of views. Because of this, the students themselves must use flexibility to reach a certain communal goal. Such collaboration and flexibility is necessary for student success because, as the article notes, deeper levels of thinking are being used when students work together as a group and work with multiple viewpoints than when students are merely working on a worksheet individually or listening to a lecture. Such cooperation is also crucial for real world experiences, and can allow students to adapt more easily to such situations after they leave school.
The video that I chose for today is from the teaching channel, and focused on a 7th grade world history teacher. This teacher used differentiation within her classroom through the use of a “learning menu”. After finishing a chapter in the textbook, the students go through this learning menu and pick one activity they would like to complete from various options given, and they do this for the “appetizer”, the “main entree”, and the “dessert” courses. The appetizer focuses on literary skills, the main entree is focuses on the bulk of the material learned, or the important material, and the dessert is a summary of the whole chapter. Each student is following the same format, and is working to reach the same goal at the end of the chapter, but the way they go about this learning through the different activities they choose is entirely up to them.