Differentiating for Learning Styles

differntBack in 2016, I faced a huge Educator dilemma. I started the school year off teaching 7th-grade science and working diligently to bring them up to grade level. We had a routine and everything was going great. But then! I was notified that I would no longer be teaching 7th grade instead I would help to prepare the 8th-grade students (my former 7th graders) for their upcoming STAAR exam. Now, you may be thinking no big deal, but what I did not mention was it was late January when this change happened. Halfway through the semester. Not only did I need to learn a new curriculum, but I also had to create a foundation and structure for these students. I had to learn who was in my classroom and most importantly how they received information. This assignment that I completed in my Differentiating Instruction class came in handy.

The ASSIGNMENT

Content Area: Earth and Space

TEKS Objectives

8.7 Earth and space. The student knows the effects resulting from cyclical movements of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. The student is expected to:

(A)  model and illustrate how the tilted Earth rotates on its axis, causing day and night, and revolves around the Sun causing changes in seasons.

II. Interest Inventory

During this unit, students will be in stations. Each station will have a different method of instruction such as read and comprehend, organize, explore, vocabulary, and center activity. To prepare for this setup, I will provide students with a short survey on ways that they prefer to learn a concept. In this item, it will include questions about note-taking methods, research activities, and hands-on activity preference. This will be done midweek, prior to beginning this unit, as an exit ticket.  This allows me sufficient time to plan or adjust our station activities for the following week.

 III. Analysis of Data

I predict that I will have the majority of my students that have a kinesthetic and visual learning style. I do know that I will have the three common types of learners in my class which are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. In my lesson, since I am doing stations, the grouping will vary slightly. Each group is learning the same content just in different ways. I will place students in the stations that they are in the strongest in before starting the other stations. However, because each station has a little of something for everyone, I will not have all visual learners at the organize station at once. The groups will still be mixed. I do not believe that I will have any unusual learning styles that are difficult to accommodate. Each station is designed for all types of learners.

IV. DI (Differentiated Instruction) Strategies

I will use the analysis to determine how I present the content in their station sections. As stated in the previous section, I will use a weekly five station. These stations consist of 1) read and comprehend 2) organize it, 3) center activity, 4) explore it, and 5) vocabulary.  Each station is going over the exact same TEK or content; however, students get to receive the content from different angles.  I’ll break the stations down by content and learning styles.

  1. Read and Comprehend Station– In this station, students will have an article about Earth’s Tilt and how it affects the seasons. This article can be found on paper in their folder (visual) or online that includes a voice record of the article (auditory), graphics, and items that can be clicked or manipulated such as earth revolution and rotation simulator (kinesthetic). Students have the option to read the article using the paper vision or listen to the article online that includes. Once students have completed the article, they will complete a KWL chart, summarize what they read, and complete a sentence stem of their choice.
  2. Organize It Station– In this station, students will have to create their own graphic organizer after reviewing notes on the Earth’s tilt, rotation, and revolution. Students will be given a variety of graphic organizers that they may choose from. They also have the freedom to highlight and arrange their notes in a way that makes sense and flows for them. (Visual) Students also have the option to assemble a graphic organizer and glue it in the proper section of their station booklet that also has the information. (Kinesthetic)
  3. Center Activity Station- In this station, students will create a foldable where they will illustrate a model of the Earth tilting on its axis and revolving around the sun. (kinesthetic) The illustration must be properly labeled (seasons must be properly labeled within the orbit on their illustration). The foldable already has pre-written notes, but must summarize those notes inside the flaps of their foldable. (visual, auditory) I will have a station iPad and headphones that is set to our class see-saw account that has a video which demonstrates and explains how to create their foldable. (auditory)
  4.  Explore It Station- At this station, students will be conducting research on Earth’s rotation and revolution. I will assign a you-tube video “Earth’s rotation vs. Revolution Crash Course Kids 8.1”. Students must watch the video (auditory), take notes during the video (visual), and use their notes to create a two paragraph summary and illustration on what they learned. After completing the summary, students can play a rotation vs revolution game found online. (Kinesthetic)
  5. Vocabulary Station- In this station, students will be writing down their vocabulary words found in their notes: rotate, revolve, and orbit (visual). Students will also create a vocabulary foursquare. In this vocabulary foursquare, students must include the term, an example, non-example, and drawing. Students will also build their vocabulary foursquare (only using the word rotate) by assembling a dice. (kinesthetic) When students have finished the dice, they will do a think pair share activity. In this activity, the student will roll the dice, and discuss what it lands on. (auditory)

V. Results

Differentiating learning styles in this lesson has been mind-blowing and refreshing for me. Having a variety of ways to learn the same content has made my life easier and allowed my students to be more engaged and less distracted by behavior. The stations and the options that the stations gave pleased the students. They did not feel restricted, because there was something for everyone. Our quiz scores increased to class averages of at least an 80% or better.

VI. Reflection

I completed these stations this week. It has been very challenging learning my students in the middle of the year and what works best for them. Long story short, I have been the seventh-grade science teacher for two years, in January, I was reassigned to teach eighth grade (I taught the majority of these students in 7th grade) to prepare them for state testing since they had gone without a teacher. It has been extremely challenging and frustrating to get them caught up to an entire semester, but this week gave me so much hope and excitement. The students loved the fact that they could learn at their own pace and that they were retaining information. Majority of students scored 75% or higher on their quiz today; this is amazing to me because the questions were STARR sampled questions and involved critical thinking. Out of 89 students, I only had 5 to fail their quiz. This gave me a proud teacher moment. This proved to myself and students that all it took for us to do was to find out what learning style works best for them. I was more of a facilitator and redirector this entire week and behavior issues decreased dramatically. Prior to completing this assignment, in another class, classroom management we discussed how using interest and learning style inventories help in your classroom, which is what prompted me to do the survey. Differentiated instruction is absolutely necessary and the results will blow you away. I am grateful that I took the time to complete the interest inventory and actually use the information to help me.

Here is a glimpse of survey questions that I used:

My Way of Learning Survey

Answer the following questions using Yes or No.

  1. I work better with a partner._______
  2. I like participating in hands-on activities.________
  3. I prefer working alone.___________
  4. I find it easier if my teacher provides me with notes about our lesson.________
  5. I understand our lesson better when my teacher verbally explains what to do._________
  6. I find it easier to learn if I have visuals such as graphs, drawings, and charts._________
  7. I find it easier to learn, when I am able to be creative such as building, designing, singing, or acting out our lesson._________

Published by Andrea Pickens and Associates, LLC

Greetings: My name is Andrea S. Pickens; I have several years of experience in education and youth development all of which include teaching and leading youth in under-resourced and economically disadvantaged communities. I believe that it is critical to the academic and over success of our youth to have proper academic and social-emotional support. This support is often found in schools and after-school programs that intervene by providing tutoring/enrichment services and are equipped with effective teachers and leaders. My belief is that each child can learn, but not all children learn the same; diversity and equity is crucial to youth development. It is my mission as an educator, entrepreneur, and servant-leader to equip and empower others in youth development and education to reach our youth beyond the secondary classroom. Yours in Education, Andrea S. Pickens, M.Ed

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