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Differentiated Instruction: Success for Every Student

By John Drag Jr. - Posted Jul 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Located online at: http://www.catraining.com/.

Source: Curriculum Associates, Inc., 153 Rangeway Road, North Billerica, MA 01862; Phone: 800/225-0248; Internet: http://www.curriculumassociates.com/.

Access Fee: None. This online product is available at no charge.

Audience: K-12 teachers.

Format: Web-based instruction.

Minimum System Requirements:

Computer (Win or Mac) with Internet connection. High-speed Internet access preferred.

Description: Differentiated Instruction is the first of three online professional development courses to be offered at no charge by Curriculum Associates.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: No installation is required. Users may need to download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view, download, and print the numerous resources that accompany the training. No registration is required to access the material. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Differentiated Instruction: Success for Every Student guides educators through the process of adopting differentiated instruction for their classrooms.

Before starting the course, users may explore four areas of interest: an introduction with an audio welcome by the author, Sylvia Lewis; a list of objectives for each lesson; a resource section with downloadable blackline masters and an extensive reference section; and a credits section with a detailed author biography. The reference section is quite exhaustive and contains links to the listed Web sites.

The course consists of four lessons with research-based content, including full audio and visual presentations. Downloadable reading assignments enable users to extend their learning beyond the electronic content. These assignments are gleaned from reputable sources, such as ERIC Digests. I was extremely impressed with the wealth and depth of information available in this course.

Users may begin with Lesson 1, Differentiated Instruction at a Glance. The lessons that follow are Lesson 2, Identifying Student Needs; Lesson 3, Instructional Strategies and Classroom Management; and Lesson 4, Putting Your Plan in Action.

Common to each lesson are summaries, lesson reviews, and a reading assignment. The lesson review consists of multiple-choice and free-response questions. I took the review in Lesson 1 and liked the immediate response (correct and incorrect answers) and ability to print.

As an administrator, I like to have some verification of training. These lesson reviews are perfect for that purpose. In addition, the reviews provide users with a quick look at their progress. These "tests" may also be used for review or inclusion in a professional portfolio.

Lesson 1 includes all the basics of differentiated instruction, including a definition, discussion on why the approach is necessary in today's classroom, and the principles behind this approach. Lesson 2 looks at identifying student needs, informal and formal formative assessment, why clearly established criteria are essential to assessment, and the part student readiness plays in differentiated instruction.

Lesson 3 provides specific strategies including "compacting," tiered assignments, independent projects and contracts, learning centers, adjusting questions, and flexible grouping. I was particularly impressed with this lesson in particular. The strategies were sound and the accompanying demonstrations phenomenal—a real-world application of theory.

Lesson 4 introduced guidelines for differentiating instruction, developing appropriate lesson plans, and specific strategies for the management of a differentiated classroom.

In all, this is one of the best tutorials I have taken. I was never lacking for information—each lesson was comprehensive and well-planned.

This is the first in a series of free online professional development tools. The next title scheduled for release is Motivating Learners, to be followed by Classroom Discipline and Test Preparation Strategies.

Curriculum Associates has done a remarkable job in the selection of topics and development of content. I'm anxious to begin the other titles in this series. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The Differentiated Instruction course is user-friendly; navigating through each lesson is extremely easy. The lessons are short and teachers are able to navigate in and out of the course with ease. Any type and level of user will meet success. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: E-Training Help is available at any time during the lesson. Users have three options in this section—System Requirements, Viewing Presentations, and Troubleshooting. Additional assistance is available through Curriculum Associate's toll-free telephone number from 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. In addition, Tech Support can be contacted via a link on the Help page. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Differentiated Instruction: Success for Every Student is an absolute "must include" in any staff development program. Curriculum Associates has stepped up to the plate by giving some serious professional development tools to the educational community. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: John Drag, Jr., Principal, Broward Community Charter School, 201 University Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071; 954/341-0082; Jpdrag@aol.com.


 
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