By the end of the first
month of the term, we are all beginning to
settle into a routine. At the same time, we
are beginning to realize that our greatest
challenge will be those students who are not “getting
it” on the first presentation. The “it” in
this case may be in any of the curriculum areas.
Why Each Student
Is Different--The Short Version
Language processing that includes listening, speaking, reading and writing
occurs in all curriculum areas. Language processing emerges and develops
interdependently at differing rates in different children. This processing
is an inclusive process and cannot be divided into its component parts.
For this reason, the lessons we develop need to include the components
of language processing that compliment each individual’s style
Each of our students has
a differing level of strength in listening,
speaking, reading and writing. It is our task
to go beyond teaching the curriculum. We need
to be willing to teach each individual, regardless
of their circumstances and perspectives. By
becoming aware of our students’ needs
and interests we begin to enable each student
to work at their own higher level of thought,
problem solving and production.
How to Motivate Each
Child to Learn
Most students are very well attuned to their own strengths and weaknesses.
Allowing each student to feel successful at the various tasks they attempt
is the key to motivating every child to learn. By providing a variety
of ways for them to successfully accomplish the tasks at hand, we motivate
them and allow them to express what they have learned, thereby letting
us know what they know.
to Teach Them All”
Carol Ann Tomlinson’s article, “Deciding to Teach Them All,” (ASCD,
October 2003) offers some broad pointers for teachers interested in reaching
comes first. The teacher’s
first job is always to ensure a coherent,
important and thoughtful curriculum.
All tasks should
respect each learner. Every student
deserves work that is focused on the essential
knowledge, understanding and skills targeted
for the lesson. Every student should find
the work interesting and powerful.
When in doubt,
teach up! Good instruction stretches
learners. The best tasks are those students
find a little too difficult, but are attainable
with a support system in place to facilitate
Use flexible grouping. Find
ways and times for the class to work as a
whole, for students to demonstrate competence
alone, and for students to work with varied
groups of peers. This gives students a chance
to be involved in varied contexts.
Become an assessment
junkie. Everything a student says
and does is a potential source of data.
Assessment is an ongoing process, and is
meant to maximize opportunities for each
student to widen their window on learning.
Grade to reflect
growth. The teacher’s job
is to guide and support the learner in
doing their best work. Grading should reflect
a learner’s growth.
Making Learning Engaging
There is no doubt that reading and writing are the main focus of our
curricula. By incorporating the following into a variety of assignments,
the work the students produce will inevitably reveal their understanding.
articles, novels, poetry, song lyrics, graffiti.
articles, flyers/pamphlets/brochures, directions,
reports, research papers, notes to family
members and friends, business letters, informational/reference
through personal letters, diary/journal,
postcards, thank-you notes, letters of complaint.
mini-biography for application, graffiti,
test items, business letter, interview.
personal notes, minutes, research notes,
This far from exhaustive
list of activities can be used to engage learners
in a wider range of possibilities that can
lead us to know what they know and give voice
to their individual styles and strengths. It
should be emphasized that along with the spirit
of variety, students should be encouraged to
demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways
at different times throughout the term.