Posted on December 09, 2013 in Differentiating Instruction, Inclusion
At its core, differentiation is about knowing your students and what works for each of them. What better way to learn about the needs of your learners than to ask them to rate you and your teaching?
This assessment tool may feel risky to some educators, but it can also be very rewarding. You position yourself to learn about which types of lessons are working well, which assessments students see as useful, and which classroom games and activities students see as meaningful, enjoyable, and effective.
We often say that you cannot differentiate for students you do not know. Add teacher report cards to your menu of assessments to get to know your learners even better and to see what teaching looks and feels like on the other side of the teacher’s desk.
To begin, decide on what kind of feedback would be most useful to you personally and professionally. Then, create items that will be easiest for students to answer. You could use a Likard scale for some items (on a scale of 1-5) or multiple choice items. These tools will let you see if there are themes that emerge. If all learners give you a 1 or 2 in “I get enough opportunities for movement”, you know that this area is in need of improvement, for instance. You will also want to leave some space for evaluator comments, however, as you can likely learn the most from open-ended feedback. You might ask questions such as: “What was your favorite lesson so far?”; “What is one thing you wish we could do more often?” or “What games, activities, or review exercises are your favorites?” You can ask students to keep their names off their reports in order to encourage honesty.
After collection and reviewing the reports, consider sharing results with your students and letting them know about any comments or information that made you feel good or satisfied and also reporting on any changes you intend to make as a result of the feedback.
Keep in mind that some learners may not be able to respond without the use of augmentative and alternative communication. If some students do not have effective systems, you may need to provide pictures of classroom materials and common structures (e.g, reader’s theater, guided reading) so these individuals can rank/indicate favorite activities more easily.
For more differentiation ideas for K-12 classrooms, get your copy of From Text Maps to Memory Caps [Paul Brookes Publishing].