Whole Group Instruction Sucks!

Each student learns at different rates, requiring varied amounts of review and practice. Yet teachers constantly teach a one size fits all lesson, expecting everyone to achieve mastery simultaneously. 

For example. What if the lesson was on long division, but Student A doesn’t know his times tables? He will never learn long division until he masters this prerequisite skill. At the same time, Student B can’t do two digit subtraction. She too will struggle until she is proficient at that skill. 

So the teacher will continue to reteach long division, without success, due to the deficient prerequisite skills. All the while, Student C has grasped the concept, and is ready to move on to more challenging work, but the teacher retains Student C with the class for more remediation. All suffer. 

Eventually, the teacher will become frustrated and move the class on to the next skill; like long division with remainders, or decimals. Of course, those who have not mastered long division will again fail. 

The solution is to meet each student at his/her need, making sure that each masters the proceeding prerequisite skills until each has mastered the skill being covered. I call it: Whole Class Differentiation. 

In our above example, the teacher should have reteach materials for Student A to work on his times tables, and reteach materials for Student B to master subtraction. And Student C should be progressed to the next skill / standard. 

Each student should work on the prerequisite skill until they demonstrate proficiency, and then be progressed to the next skill, and then the next, until they have mastered the required skill (in this case; long division).

The teacher should chart everyone’s progress, so that they can see their success. 

The teacher should expect mastery, but not penalize failed attempts. 

We all learn trough failed attempts. So allow students to fail until they succeed, and then reward their success. 

Here’s how I do differentiation that works: http://www.rethinkmathteacher.com/differentiation-for-everyone/

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