No two people are alike…we are all individuals. What works in a classroom for one individual may not work for another. Some students may be auditory learners while other may be more apt to understand new content when they can see it and touch it. Dr. Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience from Harvard University, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in 1983. This theory recognizes that people have different learning styles. For teachers to educate all students, no matter their style, they must learn to differentiate.
With the advent of common core, now more than ever, teachers across the country have common learning goals for all of their students. What they don’t have are identical, homogenous student populations. Teachers need to find numerous ways to teach the same concept if they hope to reach all of their kids and ensure understanding. A video depicting the water cycle might be great for six students in a class, but what about the other twenty? They may need to draw the water cycle or read about it. Teacher need to plan the share the same content in a variety of ways.
Differentiation does take time, but that does not mean it is impossible. With the right support, resources and education all teachers can differentiate for their students. In the end, test scores will go up and students will be enthusiastic about their studies. What more could a teacher ask for?
By Kelly Gump
Kelly Gump has been an educator for over 13 years. She has worked with K12 students of all ages and adult learners in the classroom and online. She holds a BS in zoology and a Master’s degree in educational administration. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
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