HOPE Standard Reflection- Meeting the Varied Instructional Needs of 1st Grade Mathematicians

P2- PRACTICE DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION

To me, the second HOPE principal of best practice means assessing, planning, and being child-emergent to meet the various needs of students.  Tomlinson and Allan (2000), foundational researchers, describe differentiated instruction (DI) as the act of  accommodating the different ways that students learn with a “hefty dose of common sense, as well as sturdy support in the theory and research of education”. Recently I began teaching 1st grade math workshop, and am working on balancing all the components of effective DI.

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The evidence I am presenting is a description of how I informally assess, and support mathematicians that are struggling, and students who are needing a challenge with a math concept.  The scaffolding for struggling mathematicians, and the stretchers for proficient mathematicians that I offer demonstrates my emergent practice of DI.

I have learned that students unanimously respond positively and productively to having their learning needs actively responded to, regardless of whether they are struggling or racing ahead with the content of the lessons.  I have observed struggling students, who I have given extra support, become more motivated and verbal during whole group instruction.  Conversely, I have noticed the students who are being provided with challenges for their math growth being more open to listening to classmates input during math talk times.  In theory, offering quality DI is an overwhelming task of constantly balancing assessment, instruction planning, and child-emergent instruction.  However, in practice, the great reward of seeing students become more confident as mathematicians, or more motivated to participate in the learning community is well-worth my discomfort as I learn DI.  In reflection on how I will grow in my ability to offer DI, I plan to collaborate weekly with my mentor teacher to refine my skills in recognizing and meeting the needs of all the 1st grade mathematicians.

Reference:

Carol Tomlinson Ed.D., (2000). Fulfilling the promise of differentiation: responding to the needs of all learners. Retrieved from: http://www.caroltomlinson.com/

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