All students learn differently, but according to David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico, each can thrive when instructional needs are met.
When you have a group of students in your classroom, chances are they’ll have a variety of individual learning styles. One lesson will not reach every child the same, which means instructors need to consider incorporating a concept called differentiated instruction. According to David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico, research has shown that differentiated instruction is very beneficial to students who struggle to keep up in the classroom or who have specific learning disabilities. There are many different ways to implement the method, but David Lougee will focus on four ways specifically.
The school district or state will set educational standards regarding content that must be taught in the classroom. The key here is understanding each student’s familiarity with the subject beforehand. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico goes on to explain by saying that some kids will be completely unfamiliar with the information. Others will have partial mastery or know the information before the lesson begins.
To address the issue, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends differentiating the content by breaking students up into groups and giving them appropriate levels of material based on their familiarity with the topic. Students who are brand new to a concept can begin with lower-level skills like comprehension and vocabulary. Students with partial mastery might analyze information and apply what they read to a problem. Those in a higher level of proficiency could work on creativity and sharing.
Learning styles are defined as visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and linguistic. Every child has a preference, which means successful lesson plans deliver the material in all forms. Some students need more support from the teacher and will progress after individualized attention. Others can move forward on their own if they have the right materials. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends using differentiated instruction in the process by offering text for visual and linguistic learners, audiobooks and lectures for auditory learners, and interactive assignments to kinesthetic learners.
When the lesson is over, the students need to be evaluated for their comprehension of the material. Many teachers will choose to use tests and quizzes to determine mastery. However, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends taking into consideration each child’s learning style to individualize their final products. Many children are not good test-takers because they can’t focus or because they get nervous.
For linguistic learners, teachers may want to ask for a book report. Visual learners might best represent their knowledge through charts and graphic organizers. Auditory learners could prefer making a presentation, while kinesthetic learners might want to bring in a diorama.
Finally, make sure you are setting your students up for success by giving them the best learning environment possible. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico explains that the environment should be both physically and psychologically comfortable. The classroom should be fun and inviting, with many different areas set aside for individual and group work. Many teachers enjoy setting up reading corners with cool chairs and soft furnishings. David Lougee’s final tip is to rid your class of distractions and create quiet times.