Four Learning Styles
The Four Learning Styles chart/organizer on page 43 is a great quick reference for planning for differentiated instruction. It is now copied, and in a very accessible spot, in my planning notebook, right next to the quick guide for differentiating instruction based on the multiple intelligences. Both resources provide key words and activity types for meeting individual needs.
At some point any teacher planning to differentiate for his/her students is bound to feel overwhelmed with the thought of so many different forms of an activity taking place in the room. How is that all possible to manage? I was relieved to read, “…teachers do not need to meet the needs of every student at every moment”, (pg. 44). It wouldn’t make sense to have students work only in the domain or learning style that they were strongest. There are certain tasks that require a specific learning style, and all students need to be able to adjust to a variety of types of lessons.
As a health teacher I create lesson plans in which every student in the school will eventually experience. This means I will be presenting to all learning styles, and many variations of those learning styles, at some point. Knowing that I do not need to meet all those needs every time they are in health class is a relief. It does mean, however, that students should experience lessons in my class that sometimes are in their comfort zone, and sometimes in their stretch zone. Part of each lesson plan should include opportunities for the students “stretching” to learn specific behaviors which allow them to adjust their learning style with that of the lesson type.
Kise pointed out that every lesson a student encounters does not have to be in his strength, but assessments should be. At first I thought this was a new concept for me until I began analyzing some of my assessments. In each health unit I incorporate a performance assessment task as well as a written one. So multiple assessments types are not a foreign concept for me, but I need to take a look and see how they match up to the learning styles. If I am heavy on one type I will need to modify some of my assessments to try and equalize the types. Even within a written test the questions can be written to target a variety of learning styles.
Today, while reading chapter 6 on classroom management, my teacher mentee approached me with a problem she is having in the classroom. She is having difficulty with some students monopolizing classroom discussions and she wanted some strategies to manage this. We looked at the suggested ideas on pages 81-82. She is going to use conversation sticks tomorrow in her lesson. Every child will get two popsicle sticks which means they each have two opportunities to share or question. I also directed her to the section on blurting out. She will also employ the “Is this your final answer?” technique. This will allow those extraverts who blurt out answers to decide whether or not it was appropriate. This should give them opportunity to recognize inappropriate comments.
Throughout these chapters the teacher is repeatedly asked to compare their learning style with the type of lessons she feels most comfortable with. Each time it is expected that the teacher generally creates lessons with their learning type in mind. I find myself to be the opposite. I tested as an introvert intuitive type. The lesson type that an IN would feel most comfortable with is exactly the type of assignments I like to get as a student. As a teacher, however, I really enjoy the ES lessons, and even the ESTP students; the exact opposite of me. They, in turn, are pretty comfortable in my class. Yet, I totally get the INFJ types because that is my type. I can think of a lot of reasons why this might be the case, but I think some of them might require a therapist to process. My scores do reveal why some of this is possible. All four sections of my scores were close to being split evenly. Each score was off by only 1-3 points. Or, is this just an example of what teachers are trying to achieve when teaching learning. Start with your strengths and learn how to adjust and manage when a learning activity does not match up easily.