Differentiated instruction

I admit it. I did not enjoy science and math very much when I was a kid. But new and fresh approaches in books for young readers (and I, of course, am still a young reader at heart) are sure to not only engage but inspire a new generation.  Many new books are sure add to an appreciation of the humanities.

In any effective and student-centered classroom, the voices of learners should be heard often; they should be asking and answering questions, sharing ideas, and expressing their thoughts. Some students, however, struggle to engage in some or all of these behaviors. They may need models for asking appropriate questions or adding relevant comments.

Last week, I pointed out that research had found few interactions in literacy learning. That is, research hasn't actually uncovered many situations in which different kinds of kids learn differently — despite many claims to the contrary.

Someone put a bug in my ear, and I started writing, and by the time I was done, I had two blogs rather than one. I'll set the table with this one, and bring it to conclusion next time.

One of the best things about research is that it can let the wind out of windbags and force some hard thinking. Our field suffers fatuous pronouncements as much as any. An example?

How about the constant drumbeat concerning the failure of “one size fits all” instructional approaches? Seemingly, everybody agrees with that one.

Teacher question:

Boy, oh, boy! The past couple weeks have brought unseasonably warm temperatures to the Midwest, and unusual flurries of questions concerning teaching children at their, so-called, “instructional levels.” Must be salesman season, or something.

Teacher Question:
My district is currently "grappling" with the idea of asking students to read complex text if they are significantly below the grade level. As an example, within one fourth grade class, a teacher identified that more than half her class is 1-2 grade levels below the expectation for reading (using multiple measures). Her response is to change the level of the text, and try to move the students forward. The common theme in our schools is that growth is what matters, not proficiency.

Educators who hold to beliefs that audiobooks are cheating can have their say in their personal lives. At school, that point of view stands in the way of academic success for struggling readers for whom audiobooks and alternatives to print are a necessity. 

Decode poorly, read slowly? 

Students who decode poorly and read slowly should use audiobooks to access the curriculum. They also need a specialized and proven program of reading instruction in order to learn to read. 

Teachers get ready to contribute in your own way to the literacy festivities ahead. Join the Defined and Caption Media Program's (DCMP) 11th annual Read Captions Across America (RCAA) event!

NEA Partner

When science learning materials in print frustrate or close out students who struggle with traditional learning materials, alternative media can get students back into the game. There are many free digital options that can engage learners and keep their attention while they provide opportunities for skills, understanding, and vocabulary to grow.  

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass