The Norman Transcript

September 24, 2013

NPS board discusses differentiation

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The fact that ‘fair isn’t always equal’ was discussed by NPS school board members at a regular school board meeting Monday night.

“Fair” means each student does the activity that is best suited for his or her learning according to differentiation in the classroom.

In August, during new teacher induction, a group of curriculum team members conducted professional development addressing instructional strategies for meeting students’ individual needs.

Janet Gorton, coordination or world languages and family and consumer sciences, presented highlights of her training to board members and encouraged them to “keep calm and differentiate.”

Gorton said differentiating can increase a teacher’s stress greatly when that teacher doesn’t know how to implement various styles to different types of learners.

“We have to provide teachers with examples and give them permission to provide different support to different students,” she said.

Meeting students’ individual needs requires a teacher to truly know their students and the root of why they are performing the way they are, Gorton said.

Differentiation considers how something is taught, how a student learns and how a student demonstrates knowledge. Gorton said this is not easy for teachers and is much like spinning many plates in the air, but by providing teachers with training and support, focusing on students’ individual learning needs was possible.

“We’re not lowering the bar for them (students). We’re helping them reach it,” Gorton said.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano agreed.

“As the school district’s demographics change, our teaching methods have to change,” Siano said.

Additionally, the board passed agenda items including the approval of the district gifted education advisory committee and the Norman district gifted education plan for 2013-2014.

Katherine Parker

366-3541

kparker@normantranscript.com