As in many industries, trends in education come and go—sometimes quickly. Each trend often comes with its own acronyms or new terms to describe specific types of teaching and learning. This can be overwhelming to parents who are trying to evaluate school options for their children. Sanford School’s faculty members have devised a “cheat sheet” incorporating their own observations to help you work your way through the current lingo.
Adaptive learning is a method of teaching that uses technology tools to individualize instruction for each student instead of using traditional methods. Teachers select interactive web-based applications that match their curriculum and monitor student progress. The applications present the information through tutorials, and students take quizzes and tests to apply the knowledge they have learned. To keep each student challenged at the appropriate level, the content presented to them changes based on the answers or solutions they provide.
“I am not using a textbook this year, since they are out of date shortly after printing. As our science knowledge is changing so rapidly, I use adaptive learning where students research the topics and record their new learning in the notes to supplement my information. Open-ended assessments allow students to incorporate their new information, hopefully creating more ownership.”
This is a blend of face-to-face learning and online learning. This provides a balance of both learning methods. The classroom is set up to be collaborative, and the teacher is more of a facilitator than a lecturer. Khan Academy is an example of an online tool that can be used in the blended learning classroom, but it is not the only method of instruction.
“Blended learning is a perfect example of differentiated instruction. This approach allows me to tailor the class and instruction to each child. I can meet them where they are and challenge them to be their very best.”
Differentiated instruction aims to provide the same learning objectives to each student individually based on the best learning method for that child. Instruction is typically provided via group work instead of lecturing. Projects are given with student choice, allowing students to choose a way to demonstrate their learning using their strengths. Teachers can select different materials or modify lessons to meet the needs of each student.
“Since each child is different, teachers need to be aware and flexible, presenting information in a variety of ways, to allow for differences in experiences, readiness to understand concepts, skill levels, learning preferences and interests.”
“This requires teachers to know their students, and Sanford teachers are very good at this. Respect, ability to establish strategies, and creativity in planning for how to meet individual needs are other important aspects of differentiated instruction.”
Guided reading provides small group instruction while modeling reading for students to learn the best habits, encouraging fluent, skilled readers. The group is flexible based on the reading level of the student. In guided reading, teachers follow a step-by-step method when reading a book, which includes: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading discussions. Ongoing assessments are important to ensure students are in the correct reading groups. Reading groups are usually kept small.