Differentiated instruction is a new approach towards ESL/EFL teaching in which students' background knowledge, readiness, preferences in learning and interests are recognized as valuable. It is a process to teaching and learning for students of different abilities and learning styles in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individualsuccess by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process. As different learners have different needs, we have to plan a variety of ways to get to learning, organizing materials and resources so it will be purposeful. The level of complexity and the level of questioning can be geared to student´s ability and teachers participate in ongoing collaboration with students.I have chosen a group at high school 56, concretely 1st 2, and the textbook they use is Uruguay in focus 1 (Longman). They are 28 students and have different levels in English. Some of them come from content schools, some have studied English privately and some have no knowledge of the language. At the beginning of the course I have applied a test on learning styles, so as to have a clear ideaof what group it was and to take advantage of this knowledge for my planning. We have been working with the thematic unit ¨Me and my family¨, so students are familiar with the vocabulary related to family members, physical descriptions and the verb ¨to have¨. I have selected an activity from Unit 3, page 42 to be differentiated.
Regarding the role of the teacher, Carol Ann Tomlinson in her book¨How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms¨ says that a teacher can be seen as Director of the orchestra because she conducts a group with different abilities to perform a common aim which is fulfilling the task. She can also be considered a Coach because she establishes individual and group goals, understanding what motivates each player and use that understanding to get theplayer develops his skill. This is how I see myself, part as a coach, as a conductor of an orchestra and a facilitator of learning. This is the first time I have differentiated a whole activity from the book, so it has been a great challenge because there are a lot of things we, as teachers need to take into account when differentiating. Firstly I have thought of an activity which hooked my studentsand to make them work so as to accomplish an individual and a common goal (presentation of their invented family). All students will have a challenge and incentive to apply themselves in different ways, using a variety of teaching techniques or strategies that provide students with a variety of opportunities to engage in the learning process such as whole group discussions and collaborative learninggroups. I will also have a managing and monitoring role because many activities will be monitored simultaneously.
Considering assessment I will assess the following: completion of tasks, ability to work with and listen to others, participation levels, respects self and others, ability to discuss, explain, make connections, describe, report and the fulfillment of the learning outcomes.Assessment results should increase my understanding of students' abilities, interests, and needs, and should be incorporated into future planning.
The class will consist on three tasks in a wavy line from working as a whole group, then individually and finally in small groups:
Task one: Revision of vocabulary related to physical description and family members.
Description: The class works as a wholeusing some flashcards to paste on the board. They will listen to the description of the members of a family (from the book page 42 exercise 13) and then, in turns, will come to the board and choose pictures of family members and types of hair and eyes to paste in a chart. E.g. my mother has got blonde hair and brown eyes. They will paste the flashcard of the mother under the name ¨member¨, the...
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