A Summary of Etivities 5 through 8
Why Do We Differentiate?
-help students learn
-allow us as teachers to grow in our ability to read our students and then to adapt our practice so we effectively teach all students
-increase student motivation and achievement
-connect with the learners
-help students become independent learners
-when students find out about themselves as learners, they become more independent, and when they work as responsible members of a community, respecting and affirming the diversity of others, discipline problems decrease
-increase teacher satisfaction and efficacy-renew our sense of enthusiasm and pleasure we feel in teaching because we are working creatively and efficiently.
Thoughts on Gender
Knowing our students and using what we know to create lessons that both meet their needs and are engaging is the key to our students’ success. We’ve taught boys and girls who have difficulty concentrating and on the flip side, ones who prefer to work quietly and pay attention. We should not refer to groups of boys and girls as homogeneous groups who all require the same thing. Instead, we should have a plethora of strategies at our disposal in order to address the needs of our students, regardless of their gender. Attitude, interest and confidence are issues in our classrooms and it’s not necessarily related to gender.
Some groups mentioned that boys’ stereotypical behaviour is not necessarily conducive to learning through traditional modes of instruction (e.g., sitting quietly for long periods). We feel that it is important to be aware that there are differences in how students do, understand, and think about mathematics. The methods that have been suggested acknowledge the differences that students bring to the classroom. It may be, however, that teachers must go beyond this, and also pay careful attention to the context of problems: Do they engage all the students? Do students of both genders view mathematical inquiry as a positive and interesting activity?
The site below has an April 2008 issue dedicated to poverty and its implications on learning. If you scroll down to the video section, you will find a video called “Avoid Labels by Knowing Students One on One” (approx. 4 mins) which you may find interesting.
The question is, how do we accommodate for our ELLs in the classroom? The wonderful thing is that by creating a mathematical community and using the 3 part lesson structure, we already are. When a child can work and learn in a supportive community, they are more likely to do so successfully.
We may not be aware that we are part of a culture of mathematics. We were brought up doing things a certain way (e.g. the algorithm for multiplying 2 digit numbers by 2 digit numbers). By structuring our lessons to honour and celebrate a wide variety of strategies and processes, we are honouring and celebrating each student’s mathematical culture, as well.
There are many strategies listed in the document, Supporting English Language Learners that can be found at the following website http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/esleldprograms/guide.pdf starting on page 55. It offers strategies for both newcomers and students who have been attending school here for a period of time and continue to need additional supports.
Some teachers feel that students should only be being encouraged to speak English at school and home. The research actually supports the opposite. There is documented evidence that supports students continuing to learn and communicate in their first language because it will actually support their learning in the second language (English). Some of the positive outcomes from using their First language are; developing mental flexibility, developing problem solving skills, communicating with family members, experiencing a sense of cultural and family values, developing awareness of global issues; and expanding career opportunities. Using a variety of apps for text to speech translation tools to help our ELLs communicate their mathematical knowledge and pre-teaching key vocabulary will also help address some issues.
When I took ESL Pt 1, I created a Livebinder of resources that were both introduced in the course and ones that I knew about. There are resources there specific to math, but that is not the focus of the entire binder. You will need to type in the Key to have access. The key is ELL. I believe I mentioned on one of the boards that sign up is free and you have access to 100 MB of space. I have created 19 different binders and have only used 13.2MB. The other nice thing about signing up is you can copy any binders that you find and place them on your own shelf. Mine is copyable. https://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=861856
Supporting Aboriginal Students
The OCT (2013), has increased the number of Aboriginal-focused additional qualifications (now 21) as well as "recommended to the government new courses for teaching Michif and Inuktitut languages". The OCT also oversees AQ courses and as a result, these courses are required to "include content and experiences in them related to FNMI perspectives and knowledge." Below is the link to the OCT article that appeared in Professionally Speaking that discusses the challenges FNMI students face, as well as a description of what boards are doing to be more inclusive. http://professionallyspeaking.oct.ca/march_2013/features/index.html
In the area of math, we talked about different ways we could ensure inclusivity and respect for these students and offered up some amazing resources that could be used to accomplish this. A compiled list of those resources is below:
Strategies to Support Gifted Students
Some of the ways to meet the needs of both highly motivated learners and gifted students include:
· Finding a variety of problem, puzzle, and activity sources with mathematics content that interests them (Logic problems are often of interest to these students)
· Letting students create math puzzles for other students to solve
· Establishing math clubs for interested students
· Providing opportunities for these students to respond frequently to higher-level questions
· Encouraging the use of manipulatives in creative ways
· Providing alternative but related assignments or tasks. For example, while working on a unit about patterns, it if becomes clear that a particular student has already mastered the ideas to be presented, she or he can learn about more complex patterns, such as the Fibonacci sequence.
· Offering alternative projects, problems, or assignments, if the students already know the concepts and skills that are to be taught
· Providing access to Internet resources
· Encouraging their creativity both in assignments and on formal assignments
· Differentiating assignments, so that the most able students do not simply do more of the same problems
· Allowing students to extend their work beyond the mandated curriculum
· Finding ways to ensure public recognition of their talents (Unlike artistically, musically, or physically talented students, these students are unlikely to receive external validation for their accomplishments.)
· Using teacher librarian or other external helper like a parent volunteer to work with these students
· Providing opportunities for these students to participate in contests or competitions, which can be motivating and which can provide a way to externally validate their abilities. Many math competitions provide rich and challenging questions, which can also be used with students who are not gifted but who enjoy working competitively.
Additional links to articles and websites with ideas to support teaching these students can be found below:
Supporting Students with Learning Difficulties
In Marian Small’s book, Making Math Meaningful to Canadian Students she talks about the challenges that students with learning disabilities face and how their learning is affected. Students may have trouble with calculations, problem solving and memorizing multi-step procedures. She points out that many math texts rely heavily on students having a high reading ability, which can be problematic. Because they may have trouble processing pieces of information simultaneously, tasks requiring students to multi-task like problem solving become an issue. Creating a program that focuses on using a small number of big ideas where students are able to see the connections is very helpful. Below are some other suggestions she makes:
Instructional Adaptations may include:
-breaking the material into manageable sequential chunks
-providing very explicit instructions
-providing more structure, even to open ended activities
-providing more structure for problem solving
-providing instruction in the problem solving strategies, with lots of opportunity to practise those strategies
-using visuals to support learning as much as possible
-revisiting vocabulary and concepts with appropriate practice over time
-welcoming unusual approaches
-assigning problems that are related to what is currently of interest or under discussion
-modifying the content to be learned to take into account the developmental level of the student
Organizational Tools and Strategies:
-outline the lesson or activity and post the outline, making sure the goal of the activity is clear
-encourage students to create their own graphic organizers to summarize concepts learned
-prepare study guides or graphic organizers, such as concept maps, to help students before and after the lesson or unit of study