Week Two Essential Question:
What tools might provide me insight into the learners in my classroom and how might I use this information?
Multiple formal diagnostic tests exist in Special Education for isolating learning differences, as do an equal amount of formal inventories and surveys. Rarely are these formal instruments used by the regular classroom teacher. Generally, it is the more informal items which classroom teachers find to be more user friendly: simpler to administer and easier to interpret. A variety of learning style inventories, observations, anecdotal records, pre-tests, readiness tests, and formative assessments, are a few of the tools available to identify how students prefer to learn. Ultimately, relationship building helps all educators gain insight into understanding how their students learn best. “The teacher understands that learners bring assets for learning based on their individual experiences, abilities, talents, prior learning, and peer and social group interactions, as well as language, culture, family, and community values.” (p.12, Standard 2: Essentail Knowledge, l) Outside of the legally mandated identifiers of learning, the interpersonal and informal tools are what I have found to provide me with the best understanding of how young people prefer to learn.
By analyzing the information gained about student’s learning styles and multiple intelligences using the above tools, I can decide where a child is on the path to learning. This requires me to use the higher order thinking skill: differentiation! (Bloom’s Taxonomy) From what I know about each learner, I can create a differentiated learning environment. The process of differentiating instruction involves research and development of strategies to incorporate into culturally responsive, inclusive lessons. The goal of the carefully crafted learning opportunities is to authentically engage each learner to learn, at their own level, in their own way, at their own pace.