In week 6 of my EDTECH class I was asked to to analyze the following. Below, you will find my response.

  • Differentiating instruction can be one of the most challenging tasks a teacher can face. Whether the student is gifted, typical, or has special education needs, they learn differently from other students in your online classroom. Some will learn best by listening, some by attending an online lesson through web conferencing. Some enjoy a fast pace and some need to stretch a class, like Algebra, over the course of the year. You will need to become adept at making accommodations and modifications for all the students that you teach and monitor their progress so you will know if you are teaching effectively. In your posts, suggest some strategies that could be used in the online environment that meet the characteristics of Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 interventions (one or two strategies per Tier will be acceptable). Try to align your strategies to specific subject matter if possible.

In an attempt at jest, many teachers associate these categories as Tear 1, Tear 2, and Tear 3, because of the time consuming qualities of paperwork and planning that are related to these interventions.  Ironically, the 3 minute video that explained all three tiers explained more about the purpose of these interventions than the 3 years that I worked in a public school in Texas.  The video points out the positive goals of interventions, but it does not address the front line application of the interventions that gives “differentiation” a bad name among many teachers.  For the last 3 years I have been teaching internationally, so these intervention categories are not required by the institution, however, as a teacher, I have done my share of interventions to assists students who struggle with content.  Like so many other teachers, differentiation is a natural side result of my teaching, but a traditional classroom environment makes it very difficult to implement.

I teach English development through literacy and language skills.  So I am imagining what it would be like to teach these concepts in an online environment, while providing individualized interventions to some of my students.  Starting at Tier 1,  students may struggle with writing; allow students to use speech-to-text software like dragon dictate, or set up an audio messaging account, which will allow students to record their response and send directly to the teacher.  Normally, these types of interventions would be introduced at Tier 3, but since the course is taught online, it seems like there is more flexibility in introducing these types of interventions earlier.  However, since writing skills are so important for their future development in education, the teacher could use sentence starters or paragraph starters for the students to complete the rest of the writing in their own words.

In Tier 2 the teacher can consider removing factors that might inhibit productivity.  One example is allowing the student to use text-to-speech programs to help with reading assignments.  I use this myself because I am an auditory learner.  Even though I read along with the text, I like it better when I am hearing the words.  Since I am imagining the course being delivered online, most of the work will be completed on the computer.  If the lack of keyboard fluency is an inhibitor, then I could always allow a student to hand-write an assignment and scan it for digital delivery. Tier 2 will be looking for direct interventions that will strengthen that area of weakness, but the student will still be required to participate in the full load of the course (with accommodating modifications). Tier 3 is more intensive as the interventions require more time and will likely inhibit the student from full participation in the lesson activities.  Ideally, if there is a defined deficiency, the teacher’s role in Tier 2 and Tier 3 would be to recommend the student for further interventions with a support staff who should be familiar with other software or programs that can assist the student.  If the institute does not provide this support for the teacher, then we are asked to juggle our normal responsibilities while we take on the task of familiarizing ourselves with additional programs for engagement and monitoring of the intervention.

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