Recently I’ve been reading about Differentiated Instruction. It’s one of those things that I hear alot about, but needed to really learn so I can connect my instructional technology practice to the current pedagogical practices teachers are learning.
So, I just finished Carol Ann Tomlinson’s book, The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners.
As I’ve been reflecting, I suddenly realized that the “local time” during the Jazz workshop is when we differentiate instruction.
For those of you who haven’t participated in Jazz, the daily schedule looks something like this:
- 30-90 minutes “local time”
- 120 minutes “simulation time” (Read Around the Planet, MysteryQuest, ASK, etc.)
- 30 minutes “local time” & 30 minutes lunch
- 60 minutes guest speaker time (GNG and other content providers or guest speakers)
- 30 minutes “local time”
- 60 minutes small group time (groups meet across sites)
- 30 minutes “local time”
What is Local Time?
Local time gives the participants a break and includes the following:
- Housekeeping time (reminders, signing up for jobs, etc.)
- Instruction on Skype and GoogleDocs
- Instruction on finding VC programs
- Video clips
- Optional activities such as learning Twitter or Glogster
- Debrief and reflection time
Why Differentiated Instruction?
We continue to struggle to assist new facilitators with local time. Those of us who have taught Jazz for a long time have a sense of where the participants are, what their needs are, and we adapt and are flexible throughout the week.
New facilitators are overwhelmed by the choices and find it hard to know where to start.
Differentiated instruction includes
- differentiating content (materials and mechanisms)
- differentiating process (activities)
- differentiating product (ways students demonstrate learning)
As I read about differentiated instruction, I realized that in Jazz, we differentiate instruction in two major ways:
- We scale the activities and responsibilities for new facilitators.
- We adapt the local time activities based on the needs of the participants.
So what’s new?
I realized that some new facilitators (and veteran facilitators) may not be familiar with the instructional tool of adapting instruction to participants needs or being flexible in training. So, I made a little overview of differentiated instruction for our facilitators that we can use each year during our planning meetings. It includes:
- A quick overview of Differentiated Instruction
- Picture examples of differentiated instruction in action
- Prompts to think about assessing participants
- Items to decide and plan for local time
- Jazz facilitators, what do you think? Will this help us? What did I miss? Is it too complex? Understandable?
- Past Jazz participants: did you ever realize that what happens during Jazz looks like differentiated instruction? What connections do you see?
Great overview of differentiated instruction. I think one of the biggest challenges for me during Jazz local time is after assessing the participants and how I should handle the range of knowledge.
Ashton – do you ever give them choices on what to do with handouts or resources to help them get going? So they can each be working on different things?
I think this is another excellent resource we can use to help the other site facilitators understand and/or re-focus how to prepare for “local time.” For new site facilitators it will probably be somewhat lost in the shuffle of everything that is involved, but nonetheless another important support piece for preparation. I think we still may want to develop a menu of suggested local activities to do each day to provide further structure for those that need it in addition to making sure it is discussed during the facilitator debrief sessions at the end of each day. Personally, I think I naturally modify and adapt based on the needs of the workshop participants. At the end of each day of the workshop and before it starts each day I thoroughly review what we still need to accomplish and what is the best plan for our group. The participant blog posts also greatly help me in this planning and by posting my own blog post each day this year, it also helped me better understand and focus my attention.
Maybe we should develop a short pre-inventory survey for participants to complete prior to the workshop or during the first day (as they are arriving and facilitators are running crazy). It could possibly help site facilitators better plan for the level of their participants and make sure their planned local time activities are designed best to meet their participant’s needs. This could also be too much to drop on site facilitators that are already on overload during this time.
Slide #15 is AWESOME! I think @Hairynomas would like it.
These are good points, Ken. I do think that those of us who have done Jazz for a while naturally modify and adapt – but that others need assistance to learn how to teach like that! I’m sure we’ll continue to polish and improve our practice!