Sunday, March 4, 2012

Differentiated Learning

#1. Differentiated Learning Assignment. Before reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, it was necessary for students to understand the impact of racism in the 1930s.  Taking into consideration of the varying expectations and requirements for student responses, the class was divided into groups where each group was given a different topic related to the 30s. Each person in each group chose a "job" he/she felt would be suitable to his learning style and was responsible for teaching the class about a certain aspect of their given topic.  Although preparation of this assignment was a bit overwhelming, the payoff was worth the effort. Students worked well together to complete their task and were highly engaged. Minimal reminders to "get back to work" were unnecessary and product output by students was respectable. During actual reading time of the chapters, there were lessons where students had choices in their responses of either one prompt or another. A variety of methods were used in presenting chapters within the novel from "acting" out the testimonies of the witnesses (kinesthetic), then showing the "trial" for those students who were more "visual" learners. Additionally various outputs from journaling to creating poems, to creating editorial cartoons were expectations required of students for this unit.

#2 Diverse Learning Assignment. The use of technology in the classroom or even out of the classroom is invaluable. It is a tool that opens worlds for all students but especially for struggling learners. The talking text or text-to-speech site is especially enticing for my students who have much difficulty with decoding words which affects comprehension especially at the high school level when the pace of all subjects seem to fly at lightning speed for struggling learners. There is website called "Bookshare.com" that would be extremely beneficial for struggling readers. This site allows students to access a whole plethora of titles where students can listen while following along. There were other programs that I found nice that allows the reader to highlight a word and then hear it. There's no second guessing and what is nice is that the meaning of the word could be looked up instantaneously. This would help my students not feel as isolated and frustrated especially those who are in team-taught classes and need to keep up with the pacing of the general education curriculum.

#3B The content area I chose was the Reading / Literacy Support. One of the resources available for those who struggle with reading is a program called "Browsealoud". This program reads web pages aloud in a human sounding voice. It reads text in its original format and allows for confidentiality. You can also take the mouse pointer, highlight text and hear it read aloud, you can have text magnified, you can also choose voice you want to hear, choose language and have options on text color. Much personalization gives the reader much flexibility.

#4 Text to Audio Conversion Assignment. I accessed the VozMe site and input text from To Kill a Mockingbird using southern dialect. It was very interesting to hear the female voice attempt to use her southern voice with its dropped "g" at the endin' and the "gunna" and "ain't"...very interesting. I didn't think she did a bad job! This tool could be very helpful for students who need to "hear" directions read...nothing too lengthy because the voice is a bit stilted and there is a lack of intonation and inflection.  A student who is having difficulty with specific sections of text could copy/paste into VozMe to help get them through difficult vocabulary.

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