1. Definitions of differentiation and inclusion
Suggested length: 1-2 paragraphs.
Define differentiation and inclusion, and briefly discuss how these concepts apply to your professional role as a teacher of diverse learners. You may use a metaphor or analogy, a
diagram or other image to support your definitions. While we encourage you to use your own words to define these concepts in a way that makes sense to you, it is expected that you will
refer, in an informed way, to topic content including readings, lecture and workshop material, and other key resources such as the Disability Standards for Education (2005) in your discussion.
Remember to cite sources appropriately, even when paraphrasing.
2. Analysis of school mission statement
Suggested length: 600 words
Visit the website of any South Australian school and access the school mission or vision statement. Based on that statement, reflect on the following:
a) What appears to be the school’s philosophy and values related to teaching diverse learners?
b) If that philosophy and set of values were to be enacted faithfully at the school, what specific practices might you expect to observe?
In part (b), be sure to comment on both teaching practices within the classroom and other policies, programs and supports that might operate outside the classroom or on a school-wide
basis. Remember to consider programs or practices that support the development of different interests and talents, and programs that support students from different cultural, linguistic,
religious and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as those that provide counselling, support or remediation. You might consider using bullet points, tables, or other organisational tools to
present your ideas. In this section we are most interested in the extent to which you demonstrate your understanding of key principles of inclusion and differentiation and how these may be
reflected in a range of educational practices. Make sure you draw on the literature (particularly topic readings) to support your response, and cite sources appropriately.
3. Observation of classroom video
Suggested length: 700 words
Watch the video and comment on the extent to which you observe evidence of effective differentiation to address the needs of diverse learners.
Keep in mind that we have deliberately selected examples that are not ‘perfect’ in every aspect, so that you can apply a critical lens to your observations (while recognising that these teachers are doing the best they can with their knowledge and skills at the time). In particular, consider evidence of the following principles at work in the classroom:
• Clear learning objectives and teaching for deep understanding. e.g., does the teacher appear to have a clear sense of the intended learning outcomes? Is the objective explicitly stated or otherwise made clear to students? Are learning tasks closely aligned with objectives?
• Use of ongoing assessment to learn about students’ needs and inform planning and teaching for a range of learners. e.g., does the lesson incorporate opportunities to assess students’ progress, formally or informally? Is assessment managed in a way that would help the teacher make informed decisions about the needs of individual students and not just the group as a whole? Is there evidence of the teacher using information from
formal and informal assessment to adjust planning or teaching? Do students receive meaningful, timely feedback?
• Flexible grouping practices. e.g., are students grouped in meaningful (intentional) ways related to their developing needs and the intended learning outcomes? Does grouping appear to be fluid and flexible, or more fixed?
• Proactive planning for differences in students’ readiness, interests and/or learning preferences. e.g., Does the teacher appear to have planned in advance to address student diversity in the lesson, or does this only happen reactively during the lesson? That is, could the teacher have anticipated diverse students’ responses to the lesson beforehand and made any adjustments to resources, supports, or activities to make
learning more accessible and appropriately challenging? Do all students appear to be engaged and challenged by the lesson?
• A positive, inclusive learning environment. e.g., is there a positive, collegial atmosphere in the classroom? Is there a sense of partnership between teachers and students in the management of the classroom? Does the teacher explicitly (or implicitly) communicate the message that learning is valued above performance, that learning involves effort and working with appropriate challenges, and that diversity is valued?
It is important to note that the questions above are not an exhaustive list and are intended as a guide only. In a single lesson, it will not be possible to observe every aspect of differentiation and inclusion and you might not see any evidence of some principles in a particular lesson. You are expected to consider each of the above areas, gather what evidence you can from the video, and then make some additional inferences or assumptions based on what you observe. Keep in mind that identifying what you don’t see in the lesson is just as important as sharing what you do observe, as this helps us assess your understanding of a differentiated classroom. For example, you might include statements like:
I did not observe any specific assessment tasks in this lesson. It is possible that the teacher had given a pre-assessment of students’ readiness for the lesson beforehand. However, if
that were the case I would have expected to see some evidence that the teacher had used the information from the pre-assessment to plan differentiated learning experiences, and
this was not evident. The teacher did walk around and converse informally with some students to check their progress, and this allowed her to correct some students’ misconceptions. She also asked the whole group at the end of the lesson whether they felt
comfortable with the content. However, she did not get around to every student during the lesson, and since she did not collect individual assessment information, she would not have
been able to identify those students who had not mastered the content, and those who mastered it easily and would be ready to move on to more advanced work. Therefore, she could not have planned targeted learning experiences for different students during her next lesson based on this.
4. Final reflection
Suggested length: 400 words
Having completed the first three tasks for your portfolio, and after reflecting on the lectures, workshops and readings for the topic, this section represents a brief final reflection on what you
have learned about teaching diverse learners. The way you present this part of your portfolio is up to you. Options could include a narrative reflection, a series of images with explanation, a short video, etc. Suggested areas for reflection include:
a) What did you find useful, and what did you find challenging, as you planned differentiated lessons for Assignments 1 and 2?
b) What did your examination of the school mission statement and the classroom video add to your understanding of differentiation?
c) What have you learned about yourself as a teacher of diverse learners in a differentiated classroom that you will take into your next teaching experience? What professional goals do you have for your continued progress in this area of practice?
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