How to Get Started in Your Own Classroom
The first step is to find out more about your students. Talk with your students to find out how they like to learn math, and what they may, or may not, already know. There are a variety of assessments available that students can take on learning style. These assessments will let teachers and students know if they learn visually, by hearing, hands-on, or a combination of styles. There are also math assessments available to demonstrate what skills a student has. Once you know how your students learn, and what they already know, you can adjust your instruction accordingly.
Next, you should make sure that you have a variety of materials available for your students to use. Manipulatives can be anything from candy to base ten blocks. Students can even bring in their own maniupulatives to learn math. The more students get to “play" with their math, the better they will learn.
Another good way to differentiate math instruction is to teach small groups. Break students up into the visual learners, the auditory learners, and the hands-on learners and teach them separately. This is a great way to address the students’ needs by matching their learning style. A way to incorporate all three learning styles is by teaching on a whiteboard or overhead projector with manipulatives that can be used with either.
Out of all the differentiation techniques that I have used, I find that re-modeling concepts to students individually after the concept has been taught has proven to be the most effective. Students seem to learn better when they are in a one-on-one situation. Teach the concept to the whole class, and then go around to each student to check for understanding. As students need help, help them individually. This also allows for the teacher to conduct error analysis and find out where students are making mistakes.
Error correction is a great way for students to learn math. It has always been said that we learn from our mistakes, and this holds very true for learning math. When I assign homework to students, I never grade the paper right away. I mark the problems that are incorrect, and give them back to the students to fix. Most of the time, the homework will be completely corrected because the students learn where they made their mistakes. This helps in future learning because the students know how to correct their own mistakes.