Influences on Student Performance/Differentiate a Social Studies Unit"

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Every student is unique: keeping this in mind an educator needs to lesson plan in such a manner that each students differentiated needs, that they bring to the table of learning, are met. Students have an assortment of limiting, as well as, progressing educational factors. Some of these limiting factors stem from students' home circumstances such as: an impoverished setting or not; living in a single parent setting; and the varying levels of education attained in the family; etc. All these situations can impact learning and must be accounted for when developing unit plans of study. Preparing students with the skills needed in the work place must also be placed in each unit.

Teaching in the 21st Century dictates that units need to be structured in such a manner that students will collaborate, communicate, create and think critically. All of this can be managed if students are engaged. Every unit of instruction must contain varied lessons within the unit. A master educator of Social Studies must "Wear Multiple Hats."

Every SS Unit must contain the enhancement of multiple skills using multiple formats. Some students learn better and are more engaged in the lecture/discussion format, while others learn and retain information in a Project Based Learning atmosphere. As such, vary the plans; have something of everything. Develop and use: a mapping assignment; primary source lesson; a group project; movie clips; music; presentations that utilize technology; and weave in a standard style lecture/Q & A lesson or two. 

When developing a differentiated SS Unit the manner in which one assesses student learning must also vary. The "standard" test is fine but can't be the end-all-beat-all of the assessment world. Each test must have varied response formats to start. Utilize T&F; Multiple Choice; Mapping: Matching and Short Answers on each test, equally weighted to allow for differentiation. However, in each unit assess students on their presentations by creating and implementing grading rubrics; use pop quizzes on movie clips or lectures; have students make the test questions and grade assignments. Another great assessment tool is peer editing. Students learn from grading their own mistakes and from those of their peers. FAIL means the "First Attempt In Learning."

Lastly, when creating differentiated SS Units have a philosophy on homework. First, always accept work late; just down grade the late assignments. Turning away student work is senseless. Second, always keep in mind when assigning work at home that students don't all have the same technology and materials available... so be able to differentiate your homework as well.