Differentiation and Motivation Plans
By this point in your experience, you have surely already noticed a wide variety in the achievement, performance, interests, and needs within the students in your classroom. You have already observed the importance of differentiation and motivation to appropriately challenge every student in the class and have hopefully internalized the truism that one size does not fit all in education today. Enacting that belief into action can be difficult, but it is truly what separates teachers who can successfully impact student achievement from those who do not. The following sections of the L2TWS were new beginning in the Fall of 2009 in response to feedback from UNI graduates, UNI faculty, and area teachers of the need for more emphasis on these issues.
The L2TWS prompts you to plan for just ONE way you will adapt your instruction to differentiate the content, process, product, instruction, or environment in response to individual student needs, preferences, prior knowledge, or interests and to especially take into account the needs of students with disabilities, students who are talented or gifted, students with language learning needs, and students at risk for school failure. A myriad of additional resources can be found at http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_diffinstruc.html and likely in your textbook and notes from your EDPSYCH 3128 or 3148 course and other coursework in the professional education sequence, especially Diverse Learners. Some teachers mistakenly believe that differentiating instruction is an advanced skill that should wait until later in your career to attempt, but successful teachers know that every lesson must be proactively differentiated from the beginning and that as differentiation becomes a habit of your planning, it's difficulty decreases dramatically. Be sure to ask your UNI coordinator and mentor teacher about differentiation strategies he/she uses in the classroom and for recommendations about differentiation in their class.
Some examples of differentiated instruction within units can be found at http://www.iowadiunits.org/index.html, a result of a joint project between the Iowa Department of Education, the Belin-Blank Center, and the Iowa Alternative Schools project.
In your EDPSYCH 3148 course you have read about and discussed intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and specific strategies for motivation. In your field experience classroom, you have seen many motivation strategies in action and have probably discussed these with your mentor teacher. Now it is time for you to explicitly apply these in your lessons, both at the beginning of the lesson to hook student interest and throughout the lesson to maintain their engagement. You should name and explain the specific strategies you will use.