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In a classroom environment where differentiated instruction is an expectation, and not a choice, time management is everything. For this reason, the key element is to maintain the control of the learning experience pinned to the student so that the teachers can perform their roles of facilitators without leaving any student behind.
21st century teaching strategies that are used popularly are:
- self-guiding checklists- a student gets a range of activities to choose from. As the student selects the activity, he will go to a center where a rubric of the activity is available as well as directions on how to complete the task. Using good pairing to determine learning groups, students can help each other complete the task and check items off the list as they complete them. The final product is placed somewhere specific in the classroom that the teacher will go to collect.
- rubrics- rubrics are different from self-guides because the rubric is used for the student to actually rate himself as far as academic performance. Hence, by breaking down expectations and awarding points to specific academic behaviors the student can spend more time doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
- transitions- using a specific transition schedule a teacher can break up an hour's worth of lesson into 15-20 minute power chunks, or activity centers. After each transition the student know where to go next and what to do if they are going on centers.
- pre-tasks- establish what students need to know, research, bring, or have handy PRIOR to the activities if that is necessary. A pre-task list is essential to save time and avoid wasting academic opportunities.
If you do not want to have students moving to different centers, you still need to provide a way to use the time well. Using an agenda with each activity and the amount of time you expect of them helps. Transitions help when they are color coded for those with learning disabilities as they often don't grasp the cue words you might use in transitions. In the agenda I had visible for everyone for the day, I always put what they were to learn that day and had them summarize at the end of the hour to hand to me as they left the classroom. I could then see who had not understood or made use of the time. Group checklists where each person writes in a different colored ink work well to see who is contributing what in a short exercise. Not allowing any time to waste is the key as the students know you will be checking what they accomplish.
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