Maniac Monday: Differentiated Instruction and Modifications
How many of our children or students feel like the boy in the picture? Frustrated!!! I decided to dedicate this Maniac Monday post to the topic of differentiated instruction and modifications because 1) it’s something I’ve always been interested in as an educator 2) I had a recent conversation with a teacher about modification and 3) I’d like to hear other’s viewpoints.
Before I go on my “soapbox,” I wanted to give a shout out to Tricia Sanders blog who featured my upcoming, online social networking class on Sunday. I also want to remind you that I am starting a book giveaway contest tomorrow–Watersmeet, which is a YA fantasy.
I was recently talking with an elementary school teacher about some students in her class. One student had an IEP because she was labeled as LD in language, and she was having some troubles in the regular classroom. I made some suggestions about what the teacher could do–these suggestions were modifications or using differentiated instruction techniques–and she said to me, “Well, according to her IEP, she’s not supposed to have any modifications. She’s supposed to do this work.” I bit my tongue, and maybe I shouldn’t have because what I wanted to say was, “Clearly, what you are doing isn’t working. The child is failing. So IEP or not, your job is to help this child learn and be successful. What can you do? Don’t call it modifications then–call it teaching.” And just to let you know the whole picture, this classroom has less than 15 students.
One of the worst things we can do to our children or our students is frustrate them to the point where they hate learning. If they are constantly failing, then they are going to hate learning. I understand that teachers have to give grades. I understand it is tough to give grades when you are modifying and differentiating. I did it in public schools when I taught fifth grade from 2000-2002. But I think we need to put the grade issue aside for now and think about what our job is as educators–teachers and parents. Our job is to teach our children information to be successful in their lives. It’s to instill in them a lifelong love of learning. It’s to help them become productive members of society. So, if you have to read a test out loud to a student, like in the movie The Blind Side; or you have to give a student an extra month to read a chapter book; or you have to move a student’s desk right next to yours to keep him on task, then do it. Right? Right?
Maybe I’m too passionate about this subject. I’d love to know what you think.