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Differentiated Instruction

As I was grading a movie summary from my Fundamentals of Programming class, yesterday, I noticed the varying insights that the students had to the Charles Babbage movie I had shown in class. This assignment suggested to me that in my computer class I had been applying the techniques of differentiated instruction. I began to think of other ways that I had applied differentiated instruction.

In the same class, my students have been taking advantage of the opportunity to bug test Alice 3. The Alice programming environment gives my students the opportunity to express their solution to the problem in the way that they feel fits the solution. One of the class assignments was to have a Hare take a bow and do a headstand. Another character has "built-in" methods for those tasks. The students have that character perform the tasks to see what a bow and handstand looks like. The Hare does not have the same functionality as the example character. The students were required to design a bow in a different way, but it needed to look like a bow. There were many varied solutions to the problem. The classroom at times was so quiet because the students were working so intently on the program.

It became clear as the hands started to raise, they all had their own solution! Some may have asked a neighbor for some help, but according to Center on Human Policy (http://www.disabilitystudiesforteachers.org/index.php?id=DifferentiatedInstruction) that is ok, in fact it is encouraged! I had the opportunity to view all the solutions, informally access each student and praise each solution.

Tomorrow is a special day at my school. We are expecting a visit from the Distinguished Schools Committee to verify the contents of our application. I do hope that they will visit my programming class so they can view what my students are accomplishing.

Myra Deister
CSTA Board Member

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