Teaching ESL
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What about Differentiated Instruction?
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Author:  Chan [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:07 am ]
Post subject:  What about Differentiated Instruction?

I'm taking a course on differentiated instruction. Does any one use it? Opinions?

If you don't know what it is, here's an article: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/263

Author:  mesmark [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

I teach small groups (3-6 kids at a time.) So, I generally don't have a problem with vast differences in levels. I'm also teaching EFL in Japan and I'm for the most part the students' sole English input. However, there are always the quicker students and those that take more time.

What I have found though is if there is no tangible reason for different activities, the slower students or those that are behind don't want to be given activities for 'the dumb kids'. What I mean is they are well aware that they are being given easier tasks and they are self-conscious about it. They are indeed self-conscious about failing or struggling with tasks other students have completed but that is stress they have already learned to deal with (I'm not a child psychologist, though.) With a larger group they may not have the same response, because there would hopefully be more than just one slower student.

A tangible reason for giving different activities would be one of the members used to live in America and their ability is far beyond the rest of the group (it's understandable). Another might be a clear age difference (span of 2 years or more.) Another might be how long they have been studying English (goes back to the first a bit.)

So, what I do in a varied abilities class is prepare more activities for the quicker students to do after completing the lower level activities. Those extra activities expand upon the ideas or require a richer understanding of the content of the lesson.

I believe that falls slightly within the realm of differentiate teaching.

I also teach kids from 2 years old to 75 years old. So, I have to vary the learning environments. For younger ages we sit on the floor, on cushions. That gives us freedom to move about. We use more toys and I have a variety of activities to hopefully reach auditory, kenesthetic and visual learners equally. As the groups get older we move to chairs and desks. Again, I try to have a balance of activities to reach all of the students.

My real question for someone teaching a 'differentiated teaching' course is how is that different than just teaching? Isn't that what all teachers do all of the time or am I just naive?

If a 'differentiated teaching' course deals more with how to handle different levels in the same classsroom (sort of Montessori style) then I may need to sign-up for the course the next go around :P

Author:  Chan [ Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:20 am ]
Post subject: 

Not just different levels but different learning styles and interests as well.

Author:  Chan [ Fri Aug 29, 2008 6:32 am ]
Post subject: 

I recently came across a book titled Success Education: Differentiated Curriculum Strategies for ESL and Learning Disabled Students by Steve P. Jefferson, Ed.D. and Bettye Sweet, M.S. (ISBN: 1-58112-498-8). I must admit, though, I'm not comfortable with the idea of lumping ESL students with learning disabled students.

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