After studying about learning styles through Module 1 of our Learners In Context class, I have been building up an awareness of how my students learn differently. This information has not only proved to by useful but also necessary. My question that I am wrestling with is how can I as a teacher include a variety of learning styles in my lessons, activities, projects, and assessments? Would it be logically sound for students to have different projects to choose from where they all have the same curricular goals but different processes of getting there? If this was the case would it be students picking the best way that they learn or would it be students picking what they thought would be the easiest to execute?
I saw an example for this approach of differentiated learning flexibility through classroom projects/formative assessments from a teacher at a conference I went to. The teacher had an end goal that she wanted students to reach but many different ways that they could choose to reach that goal. The following are the choices that the students had to create: a picture board, a skit, a map/flow chart, a paper, a poem, and a presentation. The students could then utilize not only their skill sets but also interact with the subject matter through their individual learning styles. I love this idea, but it creates a number of challenges. How would the teacher award grades to the six different projects? How would the teacher adequately show the students the expectations for each of these projects? These questions should not silence this wonderful idea of incorporating differentiated learning, but should instead refine the implementation of it.
As I work towards finding tangible ways to include the variety of learning styles that exist in my classroom, I have also worked to be mindfully aware of these styles. I think that teachers who are practicing an awareness of learning styles will inevitably impact student’s learning in a deeper and enduring way. With that said, I hope that this is a skill that begins to be an automatic unconscious action of thought.