First, the fact that I am now able to envision the ideas presented in this text and link them to an actual classroom setting, definitely allowed for a much deeper understanding.
Second, given that eleven of the students in my future practicum class are on Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s), I must say, I was a bit relieved to learn that “differentiated instruction” does not mean “individualized instruction.” Rather, it is determining how the material will be taught in a way that best takes into account all the different learning needs in my classroom. The main idea I took away from this reading is that teachers are researchers. They are continually gathering information on their students’ learning experiences to be able to plan, modify, and improve their instructional strategies, and find ways to accurately instil in them the idea of taking ownership of their own learning.
I first heard the term “teachers are researchers” during Math Camp here at UofOttawa just before school started. Our professor was conducting her research on the methods employed by a very passionate and dedicated teacher who basically put to action a lot of the ideas discussed by Cooper in these two chapters. On a daily basis, she would spend an hour or more writing in details important information that occurred during the day about each student. She literally studied her students to be able to account for their learning needs in her forthcoming instructional design and accurately follow up on previously discussed issues. Additionally, she also requested that each of her students take ownership of their own report card. They were to conduct their own self-assessment and produce their own copy of the report card to officially take home along with hers. The students took so much pride in this idea. They would approach her to make sure that her copy was inline with theirs and discuss the reasons they felt she over/under graded them on specific items. We were able to watch a lot of video footage on the methods she employed in class which really allowed the meaning behind these ideas to resonate.
Overall, after reading these chapters and recalling on this example I was motivated to start observing and recording in detail how the students I’m currently working with learn best, and at which level of difficulty. I am very happy with this “researcher” role I assigned myself 🙂 It definitely helps to make me feel more prepared as it directs me to which areas to focus on.