One of my personal developmental skills is differentiation. I have chosen this because at the start of the course I had very little knowledge of how to differentiate. I knew that in general all learners of a course were of different levels and abilities and learn at different paces. At the start of my teaching career I found it very difficult to keep everyone at the same pace as everyone was finishing at different times and waiting along time for others to finish also some learners may find the work too easy or too hard, which may affect confidence.

‘Differentiation is the process whereby teachers meet the need for process in the curriculum by selecting appropriate teaching methods to match the individual students learning strategies within group situations.’ (Visser 1993 cited in Petty 2012)

During my teaching I have recognised that this is a developmental point and makes my teaching experience difficult, I have since researched methods on how to differentiate. I have read Petty (2009) and also will be attending a differentiation workshop organised by Post16 in May in Huddersfield. I have learnt that there are many differences between our learners that effect their learning and this effects our teaching. I have found some good resources on the web to challenge my own knowledge.

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For differentiation to be effective, it is essential that the learner’s needs, preferences and their level of competence initially be assessed. Secondly, we must choose resources to meet each learner at his or her level and to challenge him or her to stretch beyond current working levels (Brimfield et al 2002).

Regarding the choice of appropriate resources, QIA (2012) helped me to create and provide different range of activities and tasks at mixed levels. This provides opportunity for all learners to learn in their preferred style and pace that suit them. If some learners are more able than others, some extension tasks could be given to meet their needs. At the end of the session it is a good idea to ask for feedback on what the learners have learnt or found difficult as this will help tackle any issues that can be amended for next lesson.

I have enjoyed researching the subject of differentiation because I have found lots of ways to differentiate by:

1. Tasks-setting tasks mixed from low and higher levels.

2. Resources – using different resources and creating handouts to suit different learning styles. eg whiteboard, interactive white board, flipcharts, coloured paper, media etc.

3. Level – by stretching and challenging the learner’s levels so they progress rather than just give them activities of the same level.

4. Interest –

5. Variety (media, activities, class organisation etc) and support.

6. VAK- visual- using pictures, diagrams, flow charts or video clips, auditory-using music, having discussions or have learners read out the instructions, Kinaesthetic-get learners to do activites, design tasks to touch and feel and allow learners to move around.

The research that I have done has helped me in my teaching as it has helped me manage my learners better and understand their needs. I feel I Have gained some knowledge, understood by explaining what I have learnt and made connections to existing knowledge, I have then applied my new skills and tried to analyse what works well and not so well, I think I am at the stage were I am creating activities and handouts for differentiation and evaluating by judging which idea goes best with which situation.

References:

Brimfield, R, Masci, F., & DeFiore, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction to teach all learners.

Middle School Journal, 33(3), 14-18.

Petty G. (2009) “Teaching Today”, put editor.

Petty G. (2012) “Differentiation materials for training staff“,http://www.geoffpetty.com/differentiation.html, accessed May 2012.

QIA (2012) “improving teaching and learning in Adult Learning”, http://resources4adultlearning.excellencegateway.org.uk

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