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Laura Furr shares her experience at Confratute

September 4, 2012

CMS North Language Arts teacher Laura Furr received a CGA educator summer scholarship to attend Confratute at the University of Connecticut.  While there, she attended classes about differentiated instruction and concept-based learning.  Read on for her reflections.

Learning how to differentiate with the same end goal in mind was especially helpful. I also benefited from learning more about the social/emotional development of gifted kids. Dr. Leppien’s strand was especially helpful in breaking down the components of differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction incorporates various instructional approaches to modify content, process, and products in response to students’ varying readiness levels, learning preferences, and interests. The key component to keeping all students working toward the same goal, despite all these differing variables, is to make sure the end goal remains mastery of the unit’s overarching concept and not simply a task skill. Distinguishing between these two can be difficult given that most state standards are centered on skills-based knowledge rather than on concept-based knowledge which requires deeper levels of critical thinking. This workshop gave me hands-on practice in designing my unit plans in a way that keeps mastery of the concept in the center of the lesson which then allows for me to differentiate my instructional practices appropriately.

I’m very excited to share concept-based lesson planning with my coworkers. Concept-based teaching helps students make better connections across subject areas. As part of our in-service workshops last week, I shared strategies for designing concept-based lessons which allow for differentiation in the classroom. I discussed specific strategies for supporting students’ needs through ongoing assessment and adjustment, appropriate degree of challenge, flexible grouping, and clear learning goals. Effective differentiation strategies have been proven to result in increased academic learning, increased confidence in learning, enhanced intrinsic motivation for learning, and self-directed learning behaviors. I was so excited to share these strategies with others!

Laura Furr
Language Arts Teacher
Coppell Middle School North

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