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When planning your lessons it is beneficial to try to include as many of senses and/or Gardner’s multiple intelligences (verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, kinesthetic, visual- spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist) as possible. You can do this by using a variety of activities in your plans such as songs, games, experiments, field trips, real world experiences, interviews, guest speakers, physical movement/exercise, small group activities, individual activities, partner activities, cooking/food/snacks, hands-on experiences, etc. Providing a variety of activities will enable students of all ability levels to succeed.
Not only do students have diverse learning styles but varying bio-cognitive cycles as well. Some students learn best in morning, some in afternoon. Therefore, having a flexible classroom schedule can provide for these differences. Also, varying times and types of assessments can give all students a fair chance of showing their true abilities.
When applicable, it is beneficial to give students choice in activities and assessments. This provides students opportunities to showcase their individual talents and can aide in classroom management as well. If students are constantly dictated to and not given a voice or choice they can grow resentful and “act out”. Provide a variety of classroom activities for students to choose from during structured and unstructured times, give them several projects such as posters, PowerPoint presentations, reports, interviews, videos, brochures, etc. to choose from when assessing their knowledge. Giving students choice provides them with a sense of empowerment over their learning and can aide them in deciding what learning styles and assessments work best for them, thus helping them become more responsible for their own learning.
It would be a pretty boring world if all learners were same. Diversity makes classroom more interesting and exciting. Teachers should honor and respect uniqueness of each student by offering variety and choice in their classrooms. Not only will this address diverse needs of students, but it will also help them to become independent learners as well. After all, is that not goal of education?
Tina O'Block holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She has been teaching for 13 years.
She is the author of Now I Know My ABCs and a Whole Lot More: Alphabet Activities for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners which is available at http://www.oblockbooks.com and the article, How to Help Your Child be Successful in Kindergarten (http://www.oblockbooks.com/article.htm ).