What prevents a student from learning in a classroom? What is the barrier: the task? The student? Both? These are the things that a teacher can control. A teacher who knows “how” each of his/her students learn can differentiate teaching in a way that apparent barriers become teaching points that help the student move on and reach a set learning goal.
Kristen GoldMansour and Dr. Ellen Rice from G&R Inclusive Group answered these questions during their training on ‘Creating Adaptive Materials for Students with Diverse Learning Styles’.
An adaptive material is a tool designed to make day-to-day learning more accessible to students in all grades, and therefore make achieve at higher levels. As teachers, our goal is to help students increase in their independence learning, especially if they are involved in distance learning. Thus, the tools we choose should be engaging and respond to their individual learning styles as well as individual circumstances such as a learning disability, higher capabilities or learning in English as their second language.
Getting to Know your Student and Task Analysis Knowing your student and having a system to analyze the learning tasks are the preliminary steps to creating adaptive materials. To that purpose, participants in this webinar, shared and discussed the assumptions about learning barriers and practiced developing a Student Learning Profile following a template criteria that allowed teachers to identify the strengths, interests and learning ‘barriers’ for a student of their choice. Similarly, teachers practiced analyzing a task to identify such “barriers”. Once the task was broken down, they practiced identifying the set “barriers” and turning them into teaching points to help the child move on and finally reach the goal expected.
Adaptive Materials: “Choice Boards in the Virtual World” Kristen explained that this instructional tool allows students to choose different ways to learn about a topic. The learning goal for all the students in the classroom is the same, but the board allows a child to pick and choose how to achieve this learning goal. These “choice boards” respond to the different learning styles and offer students the opportunity to show mastery of their skills and content while building their independence as learners. During the session, Kristen gave details on some of the different types of “boards”- grid boards, column and menus. All were creative ways for a child to learn what needs to be learned, but in fun and interactive ways. There is increased engagement and independence and the teacher can embed accommodations and modifications in these “controlled choices” so children can overcome “barriers” to achievement.
The interaction with facilitators and among participants made the sessions a rewarding professional learning for all: “I love the use and exposure to new material!”, “I have gained more insight on more ways how to plan activities for these students”, and as another participant so well stated, “It is a big job for teachers. But if teachers give up on their students then the students will have less of a chance to succeed. This webinar helped teachers and in turn helps the children.” It is a teacher’s responsibility to adapt a lesson to each student’s needs and ability. Much can be learned from this experience.
Please visit the Fordham PDRC website for the webinar recordings. If you prefer, feel free to request a copy of the power point presentation by emailed us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tune for the upcoming sessions
by Kristen GoldMansour and Dr. Ellen Rice this fall!