By Teachers, For Teachers
Teaching children is not one size fits all -- each and every student is unique and learns in a different way. When you have a class of 20 students, you have to consider what makes each child different from the other? What learning challenges do they have? How do they learn? As a teacher, these are just a few of the questions that you have to ask yourself. Teaching to the middle does not always work in today’s classrooms. You may have one student who benefits from learning kinesthetically, while another learns best using her analytical brain. You may have visual learners and interpersonal learners, or even students who need to use all of their senses in order to understand a concept better. So how can you use teaching strategies ensure you are meeting all of your students’ needs without the added stress that is required to making sure your curriculum is individualized? Here you will discover a few specific teaching strategies that can do to individualize instruction to meet your students’ specific needs.
Teach to the strengths of all learners using the multisensory approach. Multisensory learning involves using two or more senses in one activity. Some students learn best through their eyes (visual), through their ears (auditory), through touch (tactile), or by body movements (kinesthetic). If a student learns best by using their hands, then he would benefit from hands-on activities. If a student learns best by seeing, then he would benefit by watching you demonstrate an activity. When you create activities that incorporate all of the senses, that allows them to see, hear, do, and touch, then they will be able to better process the information in the best way that works for them.
Scaffolding is what is known in the education world as a bridge that is used to build upon what students already know. In other words, it’s a structure that allows students to gradually reach higher levels of understanding. Every student’s learning scaffolding is meant to meet his or her individualized needs. The teacher’s job is to build upon each students’ experience and knowledge as they learn. They can do this by modeling and having students practice. Effective teachers usually find that it is easier to start by teaching students a new strategy when the content is familiar to them. Then, over time, the teacher can present new content that is less familiar to the students so that they students can apply what they have learned previously.
Do your students like cats or dogs, sports or books? By finding out each student’s unique interests, you can tailor activities to them. Whether your students are animal lovers or sports enthusiasts, by incorporating what they love into your activities and lessons, you an easily individualize instruction that can meet the needs of all learners. Try giving your students a quick survey. If you find that the majority of your students are into sports, then you can tailor your activities to incorporate sports. It’s a great way to meet the needs of your students while motivating them to learn more about what they love.
Review activities are quite easy to customize. Since every child learns differently, you can adapt your review activities to meet the needs of each student using the method that they learn the best with. Bingo boards and choice boards where students get to choose the task they want to review have been found to be an effective way to individualize learning. Apps are another favorite choice among teachers because they have the ability to adapt to each students’ individualized learning.
You may find that some students are able to work at a faster pace than others. In order for each student to work to the best of their ability, you must allow them to work at their own pace. This may mean that while some students may work fast, others may work more slowly. Whichever pace that works best for each student, is the pace that they should be working at. In order to meet the needs (and pace) of each child, you will have to be flexible. This may mean giving students extra time to complete their test or finding motivating activities for the students who always seem to finish early.
Each and every one of your students can benefit from individualized instruction. By understanding that learning is not a “One-size-fits-all” approach, as well as implementing the five key strategies above, individualized instruction doesn’t have to be a challenge and require a lot of extra effort on your part. Just by knowing what motivates your students and incorporating that into your activities, you are teaching to their wants and needs.
How do you individualize instruction in your classroom? Do you have any tips or teaching strategies that you would like to share? Please feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds masters of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Skyword. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.