My Tools for Teaching Teens Group and I are really impressed with the Differentiation and the Brain book that we used in our blog hop (see my previous Chapter here). In fact, we are enjoying it so much, we decided to keep going with it!
I dove into Chapter 7 this week, which is all about student learning profiles and how to incorporate them into differentiation practices.
A lot of this chapter flows right from the student interests chapter which Ellie blogged about over on Middle School Math Moments.
Chapter 7 focused on a few different aspects of learning style. Here are some examples:
- Some students prefer structured tasks, while some like open-ended assignments.
- Some students work well in a cooler room, but some need the environment a little warmer.
- Some kids prefer to move around a lot while they learn, but some like to sit still.
- Students may come from a cultural background in which the individual is valued more than the group, but some cultures prioritize the group or community over the individual.
- People of some cultures show respect through silence, while some feel that respect is shown through contribution or expression of thoughts.
- Some cultures more commonly use praise as a motivator, while some use criticism to motivate.
- Female brains are more sensitive to audio input and colors. Some girls in your classroom may benefit from verbal instruction, but may also be more affected by outside sounds.
- Male brains are programmed to prefer competition. Boys may prefer to work competitively while many girls enjoy collaborative effort instead.
- Girls are more likely to try to affiliate with or please the teacher. They may take feedback more seriously and be more likely to ask for help.
The book had an image representing the male and female brains that showed which areas were activated during language processing. It was fascinating to see that the male and female brains physically respond differently to the same input.
It's really important to think about the way you differentiate your instruction based on preferences, culture, and gender.
The authors recommend videotaping yourself to review your own teaching style. Since most teachers teach the way they learn themselves, you may not realize you are missing certain groups.
Are you offering help to those few boys who may never ask for it? Are you assuming that the quiet student is slacking off by not contributing to the class discussion, when really it may be respectful behavior from his/her point of view?
To help start to identify student learning styles, I put together a quick Learning Style Profile sheet for the kids to fill out.
The way I structured this is to lead smoothly into differentiating using these preferences.
If your kids do this worksheet, you will get an idea of each learning style in your classroom, but you can also use the information for grouping.
Use the students' responses to group them this way:
- more than one "A" response - prefers to work independently
- more than one "B" response - prefers to collaborate
- more than one "C" response - enjoys competition
- Students who chose "D" more than once are detail-oriented. They need structure and routine.
- Students who chose "E" more than once prefer variety and freedom. They may tend to look more at the big picture.
- more than one "F" response - prefers to read and write
- more than one "G" response - prefers to listen and talk
- more than one "H" response - prefers to perform or express creatively
Some Keys to Differentiating by Learning Styles:
- Flexible Groupings: Sometimes, group by learning style, but sometimes mix up your As, Bs, and Cs, etc. Students can benefit from working with different learning styles in the same group.
- Incorporate a mix of visual and auditory input. Try pictures, graphic organizers, animations, web applets, games, video clips, podcasts, music, voice, and lecture.
- Remember that your teaching style probably matches your learning style. Record a lesson to see what you need to add more of (or what gender or cultural groups your style is favoring) - Work on it!
- Offer choices (see options below)
Here is an amazon affiliate link to the book. It's been a really great one for our group.
"Read" on with us by continuing on to Leah's summary of Chapter 8- It is all about classroom management in a differentiated classroom.