Profile heather 2015

Heather B

Language Acquisition, Closing the Opportunity Gap


"Can You Spot the Differentiation?”

Differentiation is key to engagement and learning in the classroom, but how do we know our strategies are effective?

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Can You Spot the Differentiation?

Innovator Heather Byington hopes to change the culture of coaching in schools. An optimist at heart, she envisions a school in which all students are engaged and learning through differentiation.<br><br>To test her idea, Byington proposed that teachers record themselves teaching two similar lessons. The first time through the lesson the teacher would not differentiate instruction and note student needs. The second time through the lesson teachers would add differentiation strategies to address those needs. Following the second lesson, Byington believes that by analyzing student engagement and learning in the video, teachers can identify effective differentiation strategies that are likely to produce student engagement and learning.<br><br>Even though Byington began her test with the notion that there was one “right way” to design her recipe, she quickly learned that just as the lesson must be differentiated for the needs of the student, so too must the recipe be differentiated for the needs of the teacher.

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Can You Spot the Differentiation?

When students are learning English as a new language or struggling with new content or skills, they need teachers to modify standard curriculum materials or lesson delivery to differentiate for their learning needs. Knowing how to adapt materials and lesson delivery to differentiate for students’ needs can be challenging for teachers to visualize in the context of a real lesson. Some teachers may also question the impact that differentiation can make on students’ learning. A teacher filming a lesson twice, once without embedding support strategies in the lesson and once with support strategies embedded, can help a teacher to identify opportunities for differentiation and to recognize impact on student engagement and responses.


Can You Spot the Differentiation?

Effective teachers of at-risk learners constantly adapt texts, materials, and delivery to meet the needs of students. Embedding vocabulary practice, visual and kinesthetic supports, information "chunking", and structured student interaction are examples. My idea involves two video versions of the same short lesson. 1. Teacher delivers the lesson without supports. 2. Teacher delivers same lesson with support strategies embedded. Video 2 has several options. 1. Pauses available at locations where teacher's modifications occur. 2. Option to project name of strategy being used with a bulleted list of strategy features and instructional coach's voice describing strategy and rationale for use 3. Option to run video with no pauses or silent pauses with no text. 4. "Start up" screen menu with a list of all strategies featured so users could jump to strategies they want to view without watching whole video.

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