Two weeks back I featured Steve Sassaman’s work on Co-operative Learning that he presented at the High Schools That Work Conference. This week another colleague, Penny Jadwin, shares her work at the conference focused on Formative Assessment and Differentiated Instruction. Penny’s Bio:
In creating my presentations for the SREB/High Schools that Work 2010 Summer Conference, I focused on providing teachers with a strong understanding of Differentiated Instruction and the key components to making DI a success for all teachers and students. In addition to a session on Differentiated Instruction, the other sessions focused on the importance of using strong formative assessments and learning styles profiles to guide teachers in making data-based instructional decisions to meet the diverse needs of students. In the article, Responding to the Research in May 2010 ASCD Education Update, Harvey Silver and Matthew Perini stated, “We’ve found benefits for differentiation: teachers who assess their own learning and students’ styles are typically more willing and able to implement a wide variety of instructional strategies in their classrooms.” In my work with teachers across all grade levels, this statement has been demonstrated over and over again. When teachers have an understanding of the diverse learning styles in their classrooms, they begin to look for strategies that meet the needs of all learners.
As part of the SREB/HSTW session, we discussed the importance of knowing students’ organizational and perceptual learning styles and how this information can help you understand why that one student has difficulty taking two-column notes, or has difficulty keeping an organized notebook. Look at the following data from a student’s Kaleidoscope Learning Style Profile from a Career and Technical Classroom in Little Rock, Arkansas:
“Gladys” is a great student. She participates in class and does well on classroom assessments but has difficulty keeping up with class assignments and notebooks. If we look at her organization and perceptual style, we see that her highest score was in the area of Abstract/Global. “Gladys” loves talking about what she is learning and discussing the big ideas, but it is difficult for her to organize her thoughts and work into a sequential order. So asking her to take notes using a two-column note taking format just does not make sense to her. I suggested to her teacher to model using a Mind Map for students while she was lecturing. “Gladys” found that she loved taking notes using this format and now her notes make sense as she studies for tests. By making this small addition to her instructional practices, Ms. “Jones” now has given “Gladys” a strategy she can use in different classrooms as well as when she moves on to college. In addition, the teacher has provided her students with choice in how they take notes in her classroom. Choice is a powerful motivator for all of us.
In using the data from a learning styles class profile, a teacher can begin to make small changes in their instructional practices that meet the needs of diverse learners. The information provides you with another piece of the puzzle when trying to connect to different learners in today’s classrooms.
If you would like more information on Learning Styles please feel free to check out our website. If you would like to try an Online Kaleidoscope Learning Style Profile for Educators please contact us.