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Differentiating the High School Classroom
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Differentiating the High School Classroom
Solution Strategies for 18 Common Obstacles

Edited by:
  • Kathie F. Nunley - Educational consultant and teacher trainer, Help4Teachers.com, Brains.org


November 2005 | 168 pages | Corwin

"Places all of a teacher's concerns on the table, and whittles them away with classroom strategies."
-Toby Karten, Educational Consultant

"The ideas in this book will be useful for years to come."
-William Fitzhugh, Teacher, Reisterstown Elementary School, MD

"In the good old days, we didn't have to differentiate."

If this is how you feel about differentiated instruction (DI), you are not alone. Although research shows that DI maximizes learning and neural development, teachers still struggle with its challenges, especially in the high school classroom. Applying her unique expertise as a researcher, teacher, trainer, and parent, Kathie F. Nunley provides practical and supportive solutions to the real obstacles teachers face in mixed ability high school classrooms.

Each chapter lists an obstacle-"I have too much content to cover," or "I can't grade all those different assignments," or "I thought I was differentiating"-and then provides:

  • A discussion of the pedagogical and curriculum issues
  • Ready-to-use solution strategies
  • Examples and scenarios showing the strategies in action
  • Practice assignments

Written with common sense, wisdom, and humor, this easy-to-navigate guide is a must-have resource for all high school teachers and instructional leaders committed to the benefits of differentiated instruction for high school learners.


 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
Introduction: I Just Can’t Do That in MY School / Classroom / Situation
Teachers are Creative People

 
Laugh and the World Laughs with You

 
So what is differentiated instruction?

 
 
Obstacle #1: I Long to Return Back to The Good Old Days
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
 
Obstacle #2: I Thought I Was Differentiating
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
 
Obstacle #3: I Teach the Way I Was Taught
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #4: I Don’t Know How
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
The Easiest Road to Differentiation is Student Choice

 
Add A Second Piece: Accountability

 
Finish with the Final Piece: Encouraging Higher-Level Thinking

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #5: I Have Too Much Content to Cover
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Realize That you Can’t Lecture Fast Enough

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #6: I’m Good at Lecturing
A Description of the Issue

 
Classrooms May Result in A Power Struggle

 
Solution Strategies

 
Perception is Everything

 
Gain Control by Giving Some of It Up

 
 
Obstacle #7: I Can’t See How I Would Grade All Those Different Assignments
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Setting up a Paper or Electronic Grade Book

 
Entering Only Unit Grades and Exams

 
Entering Grades by Sub-Units

 
Entering Grades by Objectives

 
Daily or Weekly Grades

 
Design a Grade Scale by Considering “What’s an A worth?”

 
And on What Basis Or Criteria Do We Award Points, Marks and Grades?

 
Design a Grade Scale by Considering “What’s an F worth?”

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #8: I Thought Differentiated Instruction Was for Elementary Schools
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #9: I Subscribe to Ability Grouping
A Description of the Issue

 
Segregation Within the Classroom

 
Preparing Global Thinkers

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #10: I Have Real Logistical Issues
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies & Practice Assignments for Overcoming These Obstacles

 
Liability Issues

 
Scheduling Issues

 
The Room is Too Small

 
 
Obstacle #11: I Want My Classroom Under Control
A Description of the Issue

 
Perception of Control Trumps All

 
Leadership Style Determines Perception of Control

 
An Easy Measure of Leadership

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #12: I Don't Know How to Measure My Students' Learning Style
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Take a cue from your IEP’s

 
Provide a Home Base

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle#13: I Have Neither the Time Nor the Funding for All That
A Description of the Time Issue

 
I Don’t Have the Time to Plan for All That

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
A Description of the Funding Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #14: I've Been Teaching This Way for Years and It Works
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle#15: There’s No Support For It At My School
A Description of the Issue

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #16: My District Requires Me to Follow a Prescribed Text
A Description of the Issue

 
Textbook Options Can Create More Effective Readers

 
A Variety of Reading Materials Keeps Information Updated

 
A Variety of Texts Makes the Information Available to More Students

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #17: Parents Expect Lecture Format in High School For College Prep
A Description of the Issue

 
Differentiated Reading Strategies Help Prepare Students for College Learning

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Obstacle #18: The Bottom Line—If They Are Learning, You Are Teaching
A Description of the Issue

 
Some Students Struggle with Linguistic Dependent Input and Output

 
Some Students Struggle with Visual Input and Output

 
Solution Strategies

 
Practice Assignments for Overcoming This Obstacle

 
 
Suggestions for Further Reading
Layered Curriculum and Other Specific Strategies for Differentiating Instruction

 
 
Neuroscience and Learning
Inclusion Strategies

 
Control Theory and Self Efficacy

 
Pedagogical Theory

 
History of the United States School System

 
 
Classroom and School Leadership
 
References
 
Index

"Gives a clear road map to follow and provides vital information without preaching. The author acknowledges and places all of a teacher's concerns on the table, and whittles them away with classroom strategies. The casual yet clear format parallels high school teachers' needs."

Toby Karten, Educational Consultant, College of New Jersey
Author, Inclusion Strategies That Work

“Differentiation at the high school level is one of the hottest topics and a greatly needed area for professional development. I really like the historical context; it tells us that we are in a ‘new’ and different age in U.S. education history.”

Jacqueline Thousand, Professor, California State University, San Marcos
Author, Differentiating Instruction

“Provides the readers with action strategies for differentiating instruction at the secondary level. It will be received with interest by many secondary school educators.”

J. David Smith, Professor of Education and Psychology
University of Virginia’s College of Wise

"I like the conversational tone of this book. The author is speaking to me, not at me. All of us veteran teachers have been through so many 'new' things that have been discarded after a year or two that we have become jaded. The ideas in this book will be useful for years to come."

William Fitzhugh, Teacher
Reisterstown Elementary School, MD

"This book offers 'assignments' that teachers can use to implement differentiation in their own classrooms, including devising a layered curriculum and offering students choices in displaying their skills."

Class Notes, Spring 2006
Missouri State Teachers Association

"The use of analogies, examples, and classroom stories makes it both engaging and user-friendly. Solutions range far beyond the author's own Layered Curriculum method to include many practical solutions to challenges common to many high school teachers."

CHOICE, June 2006
Key features
  • Classroom strategies that acknowledge the realities of content-rich high school classrooms, required texts, and diverse learning styles
  • Supportive solutions appropriate for use by in-service high school teachers, pre-service teachers studying secondary methods, curriculum designers, and instructional leaders.
  • Aligns with the most current research in education, child development, and neuropsychology
  • Includes a detailed bibliography covering neuroscience and learning; pedagogical theory; inclusion strategies; control theory and self-efficacy; and other essential topics. 
  • By the creator of Layered Curriculum™, Help4Teachers.com, Brains.org, and A Student's Brain: The Parent / Teacher Manual

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Introduction


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