Reflect on another peers blog:
I chose to reflect on Gretchen's Blog Entry #7. What really stood out to me was that she discussed a personal experience of how she was able to differentiate instruction for one of her struggling students in the class. I too have shared many of the same experiences with students in the classroom, and can have difficulty finding the right instruction techniques for that particular child. Differentiation is such a huge part of teaching, that without knowing how to properly assist your students, it will not be beneficial. I think that one of the hardest ways to differentiate during writing is the actual writing process. Its hard to get students motivated to enjoy what they are writing about, and sometimes difficult to differentiate the writing lesson. After analyzing Gretchen's blog, I found some great ways to differentiate during the writing process. I really liked that Gretchen mentioned she wanted one of her students to try to be creative and free write on her own, so she gave her some space. There have been many times that I have also seen students really struggling with writing, but I first want them to see what they can do on their own, and then be there for assistance. When a student is repeatedly unfocused and confused about what direction to take, then it is okay to step in, without rescuing, only scaffolding. Gretchen states, "So today, I decided to let her think for a few moments about what she wanted to write about before I went over to her desk to check in on her. When I went over to her, she explicitly told me that she needed help". She gave her student time to think, and then intervened when it was necessary. I agree with Gretchen that many students really need that one-to-one assistance, but with 20 or more students in the class, it is unrealistic to give that kind of time to just one student. It's very hard seeing a child frustrated and struggling, but if we give the student beneficial ways to organize and structure their writing they can begin to do it independently.
How can we as teachers give students that one-to-one instruction without taking away from whole class instruction time? This question is always on my mind when teaching, because it is difficult to find ways to assist students in need, without taking time away from other students as well as whole class instruction or lessons. Gretchen discussed how she established a strategy for the student she was working with. She had the student brainstorm her thoughts on a whiteboard so she could visually see some ideas to write about later. I think this technique is great for students who need a visual and also benefit from organized brainstorming. Gretchen was there to scaffold her student through the pre-writing process, which allowed the student to be able to move forward on her own and begin writing her own piece. Being able to differentiate instruction depending on how a student learns is highly important. Gretchen also mentions that, "This whole situation made me think about differentiation and how important it truly is to differentiate in every aspect of learning if possible". I would agree with Gretchen strongly about differentiation. Differentiation can happen across content areas, and differs from student to student. For many students who have physical disabilities where their motor skills are hindered, and are instructed to have to write a story or write anything for that matter, need another way to doing so than pencil to paper. Assisted technology such as computers or writing devices are forms of differentiating instruction depending on the student. I had one student during my student teaching placement that was not able to write and needed to use a writing device. He was fully capable of following directions, understanding the content, and completing work, but just did it in a different way. This course as allowed me to think about different ways to differentiate instruction by using technology and other digital forms of writing. Being able to differentiate instruction and give each student the instruction they need makes for great teaching, and beneficial learning.