Coming up with a question:
During my practicum my SA pointed out to me a couple of girls who she said were struggling and that I should go and help. Every time I approached them they refused and said they were doing fine, when I reported that back to my SA she told me that that was not true judging by their homework and test scores. Even when approached by the EA or the peer tutor they still refused help. It was at this moment when I can up with my SpEd question, “How can I help students, who I know are struggling and need help, but will not ask for it?” This inquiry to me means caring about each student’s success and not allowing students to slip through the cracks because they do not feel comfortable asking for help.
Initial steps in my inquiry:
In order to try and help these students I tried to use aspects of differentiated instruction within my classroom. A great resource on differentiated instruction is the website Differentiation Central ( http://www.diffcentral.com ), which is where I found the helpful flowchart below.
My differentiation journey depicted as a flowchart:
I attempted differentiated instruction by trying to create a community, encouraging different groupings, and the use of continual assessment. In my classroom I attempted to create community through a variety of different icebreaker activities such as a Science and Me worksheet, Either or, partner introductions, and People bingo. In the future I feel I could do a better job of creating community by continuing to do these types of activities throughout the semester, not just at the beginning. I feel that encouraging different groupings was an area of strength in my differentiated instruction as we did activities that required working individually, working in partners (chosen and assigned), working in groups with similar and different levels of readiness, interest, and learning profiles (chosen and assigned), and working with the class as a whole. I have found that this variation in groupings to be a positive way to build community within the class as students will have had to work with everyone. Lastly, I attempted to use continual assessment of my students through both informal and formal formative assessments, as well as summative assessments. I feel as though I began to do a better job of this towards the end of my practicum as I really began to use my formative assessment of my students understanding of topics in order to inform what I would need to spend more/less time on in my teaching.
I feel that what I have done so far in my practicum has only begun my work with this inquiry, as this will be a question that will always be relevant in my career. I feel as though my practice has improved with my attempts at differentiated instruction but that I still have a long way to go in becoming proficient in the technique.