General Competency Three. The teacher candidate understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.
Principle 3. Language teachers understand how learners differ in their knowledge, experiences, abilities, needs, and approaches to language learning, and create instructional opportunities and environments that are appropriate for the learner and that reflect learner diversity.
It is my feeling that we are ALL learners; teachers, administrators, parents, students, students with special needs, students with special challenges, at-risk, gifted, heritage learners . . . all deserve the opportunity to move from where we are in our knowledge to where we want to go.
Teaching isn’t about having all the answers; to me, it’s about recognizing when a student (even if that student is yourself!) needs help and bringing together that need with the resources that fulfill that need. It is vital that teachers differentiate instruction for the students to the greatest extent possible.
My lesson plan “Penpals/Kidspiration” lends itself to diversification, because it involves a software program, Kidspiration, that is easy to use and has many features that make it attractive to a wide base of abilities. Using it to make self-expressions, like a letter to a penpal allows the student to create at his/her own comfort level. Using a program like this one makes mapping out thoughts into a game, which is conducive to all levels of learners.
Another lesson plan, Latin American Artists, uses the glogster website as a means of idea presentation. This is another program that facilitates the organization of information in almost a game-like manner, allowing the students to easily create attractive “posters”. The key is that they are able to personalize it to their own criteria, which motivates them to be creative and to “show off” what they have learned and what they can do.
Both of these lesson plans promote self-expression and allow the students a great deal of leeway for creativity. This is a first step in allowing the students to demonstrate what they can do and what they like to do.
Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence(Diverse Learners) has created a framework that resonates with the day to day experiences of students: Different students learn in different manners and are talented in assorted ways. As a classroom teacher, I can use this theory to help students learn information more easily. With a little knowledge of my students’ intelligences, I can customize the information to teach to their strengths, to involve them in activities that utilize their talents or contrarily, group the students so they can strengthen their weaknesses. I can also review these categories to help me strategize my lessons to be a better fit for all of the students in my classroom. Using the structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy combined with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, I can see that there are many alternatives that can be applied to lesson plans to differentiate the instruction and reach the many different learners.