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Reading Comprehension & Differentiated Instruction

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

This lesson discusses identifying and applying differentiation strategies that address the needs of individual students. Our focus will be on reading comprehension, as well as the use of comprehension strategies.

What Is Differentiated Instruction?

First things first, what does it mean to differentiate instruction in the classroom? As a teacher, you know that students do not all learn on the same level at the same time. Differentiated instruction is a teaching method you can use to create and deliver instruction in diverse ways to reach a diverse blend of students. In short, differentiation means you take students' readiness, interest, and learning style into account when determining how students will work through the material that will be presented.

When it comes to differentiating reading instruction, things can become even trickier because students' lexile and comprehension levels can vary greatly. It's important to figure out how to address the needs of all students without straying from the required curriculum content. In this lesson, we will go over strategies for differentiated instruction, as well as individual comprehension strategies students can learn to use independently.

How to Get Started

Before you can differentiate instruction, you need to gather information on the readiness, interests, and learning styles of your students. Having this information on hand will make differentiation much easier and instruction much smoother. The most popular methods for determining this information are:

  • KWL Graphic Organizers
  • Student Interest Inventories
  • Student Learning Style Assessments

KWL (Know/Want to Know/Learned) Graphic Organizers are used to determine students' readiness levels. These charts can be filled out at the beginning of new lessons to determine your students' background knowledge about the particular topic, concept, or theme to be studied. Students write down questions about the topic, and then answer those questions as they make their way through the lesson.

Student Interest Inventories, which are filled out at the beginning of the year, ask questions that help teachers get to know students better. By understanding your students' interests, you will better know what will engage students and grab their attention during instruction.

Student Learning Style Assessments are used to determine the type of learning style students have. You can use a variety of assessments and inventories (Multiple Intelligence, personality type, learning strengths, etc.) to help determine what type of instruction (audio, visual, kinesthetic, tactile, etc.) students will respond to best.

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