Helping Teachers Make Sense of It All: Putting Differentiated Instruction and Response to Intervention Together Susan Demirsky Allan www.differentiatedinstruction.net [email protected] Developed with Yvonne Goddard, Texas A & M The Tendency Toward New Initiatives • The “flavor of the month” frustration • Many initiatives may be connected but the connections need to be made explicit by those who put them forward. A Simple Concept Education is most effective when children are regarded and treated as individuals with different levels of readiness, learning profiles and interests, and that teachers have a professional obligation to help all students be successful. Response to Intervention Defined The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, 2006) defines RtI as “the practice of (1) providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to student needs and (2) using learning rate over time and level of performance to (3) make important educational decisions” . Differentiated Instruction Defined • Teachers proactively plan varied approaches to what students need to learn, how they will learn it, and/or how they will show what they have learned in order to increase the likelihood that each student will learn as much as he or she can, as efficiently as possible (Tomlinson, 2003) Response to Intervention • Response to intervention was originally conceived as a means to identify students with learning disabilities more accurately and much sooner than the traditional discrepancy formula. • Educators saw it’s possibilities with all struggling learners and it was broadened beyond special education. Differentiated Instruction is a Grass-Roots Movement • Differentiated instruction began with teachers and building/district administrators who were frustrated by the lack of strategies and tools to meet the needs of all their learners. • It’s roots are in gifted education and special education but the strategies are applied to all learners.. • Universities are following and beginning to provide needed training but teachers and administrators were and are the leaders! Is there evidence that they work? • Early research on differentiated instruction focused on components –student readiness, learning profile etc. and showed effectiveness in those areas. • Recently (Goddard & Goddard, 2007) demonstrated that teachers’ rating of major components of the differentiated instruction model as important in their classrooms was a positive predictor of higher test scores in math and reading on statewide assessments. They Are Two Aspects of a Whole • RtI and Differentiation are generally seen as two separate initiatives. • I believe that they are complimentary and substantially overlapping as aspects of good quality teaching. • RtI can be seen as a subset of Differentiation – one that focuses on the struggling learner and on areas of weakness. • Both represent a cultural shift in how we run classrooms. The question that looms is, “How might we make teachers’ lives more straightforward by seeing these as two aspects of a whole, quality classroom?” Differentiated Instruction Response to Examples Intervention Within Classroom Tier I Classroom teacher uses tiered lessons delivered by Differentiation using within-class cluster groups that focus on the same key concepts but provide additional scaffolding for some students (e.g., manipulatives) and greater complexity for others (e.g., a more open-ended or complex task). Structural Tier 2 Providing reading specialists who work either Differentiation within the regular education classroom or with small groups outside the classroom, between-class cluster grouping, secondary honors and AP courses, keeping students in on-grade classrooms with an additional support period. Combination of the Tier 3 Scheduling students for significant amounts of time above plus to receive intensive instruction in special education structural changes or gifted classes, alternative education schools, or that may be alternate placements. beyond usual differentiation Where do they diverge? • There are three key areas of divergence: – Focus on student strengths vs. weakness – Tier 3 • Students who have significant impairments and/or low incidence conditions that require very specialized treatments. • Students who are highly gifted and may not be able to find learning partners within the regular classroom. – Documentation/Record keeping requirements and the role of Assessment Differentiation isn’t... Assigning more math problems or more reading at the same level to high achieving students. Focusing on student weaknesses and ignoring student strengths. Building on Their Strengths: The Blind Side • http://www.imdb.com/video/screenpla y/vi2070414617/ The Role of Assessment • It’s long been understood that formative assessment is a critical part of good quality classroom instruction. • In all aspects of differentiation, knowing a student’s current level of “readiness” is crucial in order to appropriately target instruction. • This is a natural fit with Response to Intervention. Important Caveat The increased level of documentation only becomes a requirement if it is likely that the student may end up with a special education identification! Although RtI is defined as being broader than special education, extensive documentation requirements are not required as part of general education. What Will the Classroom Look Like? • First and foremost, it will look like a differentiated classroom. • Teachers are “student-centered”. They are able to discuss learning readiness, styles and interests or have developed a record system as an aid. What Will the Classroom Look Like? • Instructional plans provide regular variations that are keyed to high quality curriculum and address a range of learners. • Assessment –both formative and summative -- is regular and used to inform instruction. What Will the Classroom Look Like? • Teachers are “persistent” – if one strategy doesn’t work for a student, they move to Plan B. • (Warning: You will be tempted to say “Duh!” on this one!) Teachers demonstrate that they like students! How Professional Development Needs to Change • Professional development should be focused on the full scope of classroom instruction and the range of strategies available to teachers. • It must be practical. If it is not, it won’t be used! • Both external and internal experts must be challenged to present a full range of methodologies for all students. A Natural Fit Teaching is challenging. While we can’t make it easy, we don’t need to add to the difficulty. It will be of great use to provide a unified vocabulary and a unified mindset to support teachers. Build bridges!