DifferentiatedInstructions for Spanish Classroom
DifferentiatedInstructions for Spanish Classroom
Differentiationof instructions, especially for foreign language classes, is apractice that is intended to take account of the varying learningabilities of students. According to Gibson (2008) refers to apractice of teaching students differently with an objective ofaddressing the diversity of their needs. Differentiated instructionsgive the teaching staff a flexible teaching framework that offersmultiple teaching approaches. This implies that that teachingapproaches adopted under the differentiated instructions frameworkare learners centered. The multiple intelligence theory holds thatdifferent students are competent in different subjects and areas oflearning (Teese, 2011). This suggests designing teaching instructionsfor students for students with special learning needs can helpteaching staff in bridging the gap between those who are good in agiven subject and those who need specialized instructions to catchup. This paper will address the need for differentiated instructionsin a Spanish classroom. Differentiating instructions is the mosteffective tool to enhance language teaching, especially for studentswho are learning Spanish as a second language.
Componentsof differentiated instructions
Differentiationof instructions enhances learning by taking into considerationindividual as well as cultural styles of learning of individualstudents. According to Alberta Education (2009) differentiation ofinstructions should include three major components, namely content,process, and products of classroom instructions. Differentiation ofcontent gives learners an opportunity to learn concepts that aredevelopmentally appropriate while working with materials that areconsidered to be developmentally appropriate. Content for a Spanishclass can be differentiated in three ways, including overlappinginstructions, parallel instructions, and additional instructions.Differentiation of process involves the use of different learningstrategies to help all students to investigate new concepts. Theteaching staff can use collaborative activities, learning logs,changing the teaching pace, and combining visual and verbal cues(Alberta Education, 2009). For example, the teacher can allocateextra time to teach students with difficulties in understanding theSpanish concepts and teach them at a moderate pace. Productdifferentiation involves the varying the complexity and type ofproducts created by students to demonstrate their understanding. Forexample, students working below the grade level in Spanish class maybe allowed to answer questions by drawing instead of writing completesentences.
Althoughthere is no single set of principles or formula that can be used tocreate a differentiated classroom, Tomlinson (2000) identified fivekey principles that leads to successful differentiation ofinstructions that can be adopted for a Spanish class. First, teachersshould focus on what is essential and easy for students to recall, beable to do, and understand within a given domain. Secondly, teachersshould attend to learner differences. For example, the Spanishlanguage teachers should recognize that learners have differentcapabilities where some are good at telling stories, others can writepassages, while others can crack jokes using the newly acquiredlanguage, Spanish. This implies that students who are good atnarrating should be allowed to make some narrations in Spanish andthose who are good at writing be allowed to write sentences inSpanish. Third, learners’ assessment should be an ongoing processand allows the teacher to evaluate the learners learning profile witha focus on skills and interest. Fourth, both teachers and learnersshould work in a collaborative way to enhance the learning process.For example, teachers may require the students’ participation inthe design of lesson plan for the Spanish class. Fifth, teachersshould be able to balance individual and group norms. This means thatteachers should seek to understand learners who are struggling withSpanish and give them individualized attention to ensure that theycatch up with the entire group of students in the same grade.
Learningenvironment as a critical aspect for success
Theclassroom climate is a vital, but difficult to manipulate curricularelement. This is because classroom environment is measured insubjective terms, implying that each teacher and learner can have adifferent perception about an effective classroom environment (Smith& Throne, 2009). Although instructional differentiation focuseson content, products, and process, positive change in the physicalenvironment is necessary for successful differentiation. Teachers cancreate a safe learning environment in three ways. First, engagingstudents in collaborative projects empower them and create the basisof future success. This can be achieved by involving learners indecision making and encouraging them to participate in groupdiscussions. Secondly, the physical layout and space of a classroomis part of learning environment can motivate students withdifficulties in learning Spanish. For example, the class future canbe arranged in a way that facilitates grouping of students intocategories with special needs. Third, teachers should spend timeeducating learners on emotional intelligence in order to help them indealing with stress associated with difficult subjects, such assecond language. This means that a safe learning environment is oneof the key components that can lead to success implementation ofdifferentiated instructions for a Spanish class.
Practicalapplication of differentiated instructions
Teachingwith differentiated instructions contrast with conventional teachingstyle in which students’ participation and learning are morepassive and fails to respond to the needs of individual needs.Teaching in a different way from the conventional approach ischallenging and calls for a change in teaching behavior. According toGibson (2008) there are four key steps that can help teachers inadopting differentiated teaching style amidst the large number ofchallenges, such as limited time and space. First, teachers shouldstart by preparing the learning environment for small group andcollaborative learning as opposed to traditional whole-groupteaching. For example, a teacher may arrange furniture in theclassroom in a manner that supports students working in small groupsto complete their projects. Secondly, teachers should assess theneeds and strengths of each student in order to align the teachingSpanish curriculum with their needs. Third, teachers should thencreate different teaching tools to help in the management of scarceresources, such as time and space. Lastly, teachers should design arotation chart to identify members of various groups and outlinetheir expected performance. These steps ensure that the needs of eachindividual learner are addressed.
Addressingchallenges of differentiated instructions
Lackof time and a general perception of work overloads are the some ofthe major complaints given by educators who fear the use ofdifferentiated instructions. In essence, what these teacherscommunicate is that they fear organizing their work. Teese (2011)asserted that a proper organization of work during the implementationof differentiated instructions saves time and enhances the learners’reception of new skills more than whole-group teaching. This impliesthat teachers should deliver the course content in an organized wayand maximize the little time they have with learners. In addition,the challenge of limited resources can be overcome by the use ofshared resources, such as wikispace.
Benefitsof differentiated instructions
Althoughthe implementation of differentiated instructions faces severalchallenges, there are several benefits that make them worthy topursue. First, research shows that differentiated instructionsenhance learners’ self confidence (McQuarrie, 2010). This isbecause differentiated instructions give an opportunity for studentsto apply and demonstrate their gifts, competencies, and talents.Secondly, differentiated instructions help learners to becomemeta-cognitive and self directed. Differentiated instructionsfacilitate an ongoing process of monitoring learners’ interests,readiness, and instructional needs, which heals them to learn aboutthemselves as language learners. Third, differentiated instructionshelp teachers in reaching all learners, thus enabling them to meettheir professional goals. This implies that differentiatedinstructions benefit both the learners and the teachers.
Inmy opinion, differentiated instructions are critical tools thatteachers of Spanish language should use to enhance the students’understanding of the course content and address the needs of alllearners. Although it is a challenging exercise, recognizing theneeds of individual students, grouping them according to theirspecial needs, and designing curriculum that addresses the needs ofall small groups or individual learners can lead to positiveoutcomes. In addition, differentiated instructions provide anopportunity for teachers to engage students in the process oflearning. These instructions require teachers to teach students at anindividual level or a small group, which help teachers inunderstanding the learning difficulties of all learners. This meansthat teachers should use different instructions to teach Spanish tostudents in the same grade, but using different strategies dependingon the needs of learners.
Usingdifferentiated instructions is one of the most effective tools toenhance language teaching for students who are learning Spanish astheir second language. Effective differentiation should focus oncourse content, teaching process, and products of classroominstructions. Some of the key principles that can lead to successfuldifferentiation of instructions for a Spanish class include theteachers’ focus on what is essential, acknowledging learners’difference, taking differentiation as an ongoing process, enhancingcollaboration, and balancing group versus individual norms. Asuccessful implementation of differentiated instructions requires thecreation of a safe learning environment. Some of the major challengesof implementing differentiated instructions include the shortage oftime, resources, and workload. Despite the challenging facing theimplementation of differentiated instructions, they have severalbenefits, such as enhancing learners’ self confidence, learnersbecome self-directed, help teachers in meeting their professionalgoals.
AlbertaEducation (2009). Spanishlanguage arts guide to implementation.Alberta: Alberta Education.
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McQuarrie,M. (2010). A provincial perspective on differentiated institution:The Alberta initiative for school improvement. Journalof Applied Research on Learning,3 (4), 1-18.
Smith,E. & Throne, S. (2009). Differentiatinginstruction with technology in middle school classroom.Detroit, MI: Wayne State University.
Teese,S. (2011). Differentiationin the language classroom.Arlington: The Language Educator.
Tomlinson,C. (2000). Thedifferentiated classroom.Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment.