Monday, July 30, 2012

Differentiated Learning for All

It surprises me from time to time how I am hit square in the face with the long standing idea that learning needs to be differentiated for adults just like students. Here was my latest reminder: I am serving on a state wide task force to study and bring forth recommendations to the legislature regarding Competency Based Education (CBE). As our group was struggling with tasks of subcommittees, we circled around a couple of phrases; "multiple entry points" and "continuum of learning". We were using these phrases to describe where districts throughout our state start from in regards to implementing a competency based system. Our charge to support all of the districts in our state had me leaving the room thinking, "We took too much time to get to the point that teaching this process (the move to CBE) needs to be differentiated."

Differentiating learning is hard work, but it starts with being clear about the end goal. For our teachers I describe this as identifying the learning targets of the unit or lesson and what it looks like when students can show you they learned them. For our work on the Competency Based Education Task Force, it's defining what we want the work to look like when we are done. Our committee was able to clarify a few points about our end goal. And we all know there is still work to be done just to clarify what we want for the state wide system. Grappling with the end is a fun, and yes sometimes frustrating, mountain of work. I'm thrilled no one district has to figure it out alone.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe's work on Understanding by Design - begin with the end in mind - still makes my list of great educational resources for teaching and learning. Now, I'm going to have to use it for task force meetings as well. :-)