Techniques for Collaboration & Small Group Instruction

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  • 0:03 What Is Differentiated…
  • 1:04 General Principles of…
  • 2:11 Collaboration with Students
  • 3:09 Instruction &…
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Meeting with small groups is one way to make sure all students learn. This lesson defines collaboration and small group instruction and shows how to use these techniques in the classroom.

What Is Differentiated Instruction?

Claire is a teacher working with a diverse group of learners. With a few years of teaching under her belt now, Claire understands that though she teaches one grade level, her students all have unique needs, strengths, and struggles. Her experience has taught her that to make sure she reaches all students at their own level and helps them to make progress, she needs to use differentiation techniques in her classroom.

Differentiation is how teachers, like Claire, respond to students' needs in order to help each of them make progress. Differentiation involves modifying curriculum content, the processes used to teach and reinforce learning, and the way teachers assess. When Claire differentiates, she looks closely at her students' learning readiness, interests, and profiles. She uses flexible groupings, checks in with her students often by using ongoing assessments, and adjusts groups when necessary. Let's look at how this works.

General Principles of Differentiation

Claire's first year as a teacher was little bumpy. She even pulled out her college textbooks from time to time to help her figure things out. One manual that she found particularly helpful was on techniques of differentiation. Although she thought she had learned differentiation techniques, things seemed so much easier to understand when she didn't have 24 students to teach.

Claire first reviewed general principles of differentiation. These are the important ideas she needed to keep in mind to be successful at differentiation, such as:

  • Differentiated classrooms are flexible for both teacher and students.
  • Differentiation classrooms rely on ongoing assessments to determine student levels and needs.
  • Teachers use flexible grouping to ensure all students learn the skills they need.
  • Students have opportunities for a wide range of learning activities that are respectful of their abilities.
  • Students and teachers collaborate in learning.

This last one was a stumper for Claire; she knew collaborating with parents and coworkers was important. Why would she need to collaborate with students? And how?

Collaboration with Students

Teachers and students have special roles in educational settings. While Claire is the professional responsible for educating her students, her students have an important part to play in the process as well. Reviewing the techniques of differentiated instruction taught Claire to view her students as partners, and that collaboration with them was essential to their success. Here's why.

Students know a lot about what they like, don't like, and need for learning. They can provide valuable feedback about what is working for them during teaching and activity time, allowing Claire to adjust and modify what and how she's doing. But how does this collaboration actually work?

Claire often has conversations with her students about their learning, but she doesn't sit down with them to draw up lesson plans or assessments. Collaboration is based on Claire's ability to observe her students throughout the day, gather their feedback, and make informed educational decisions.

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