Differentiated Instruction

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Advancing Student Learning Through Differentiated Instruction

Mountain View Middle School - Goffstown, NH 

-- Contributed by Wendy Hastings, Principal

Mountain View Middle School (MVMS) prides itself on our efforts to competently address the needs of each child as a unique individual. In response to our 2009 NEASC Accreditation Self-Study, Response to Intervention (RTI) has been implemented to advance learning in both literacy and mathematics. The RTI process begins by gathering multiple data points. These data points include, but are not limited to, standardized tests scores, classroom assessments, work samples, and teacher observations. Utilizing a team approach, data for individual students is compiled and analyzed for individual strengths and areas for growth. The next step in the process is to determine, appropriate implementation of services and to progress monitor the interventions. The development and implementation of our new literacy and numeracy-differentiated classes has been informed by the needs determined from the RTI process.

In order to allow for differentiated instruction in Grades 5 and 6, the first step we took was to modify the master schedule and increase the instructional time block for both math and English Language Arts (ELA) to ninety minutes. The instructional block includes thirty minutes of whole group instruction, twenty minutes of small group instruction, thirty minutes of independent practice/writing, and a ten-minute summarizer to the lesson. The instructional block is “uninterrupted” meaning that (with very few exceptions) students are not pulled out for services. Services providers may push into the instructional block to work with small groups or individuals for enrichment or support.

Grades 5 and 6 students take online end of unit assessments every six weeks in ELA. The individual student data is used to inform both progress and placement in small groups for targeted instruction. The unit assessments, combined with teacher observations and student work samples, inform flexible placement for small group instruction throughout the school year. Similarly in math, students complete online assessments three times per year. Results from these assessments coupled with the results from unit pre-assessments and teacher observation determine a student’s participation in targeted small group instruction within the 90-minute math block.

Multiple points of classroom data and a variety of standardized tests scores are collected and analyzed to determine placement of MVMS students in seventh and eighth grade math classes. The eligibility process for placement into advanced math in seventh and eighth grade is rigorous. Seventh grade students may be eligible to enroll in Algebra I, Accelerated Math, or Grade 7 Math. To support our struggling learners, we further differentiate the math program in seventh grade, by offering a co-taught Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) special educator and HQT math teacher math class. The co-taught classes emphasize individual instruction, pre-teaching and re-teaching. Students who need additional support beyond the classroom are scheduled into a Math Lab. The RTI Tier II Math Labs support students who are not proficient in mathematics or who need remediation of previously taught skills. Students are exposed to a “pre-teaching and re-teaching” model in this environment. Algebra II, Algebra I, Grade 8 Math, Math Lab, and a co-taught math class are also available for eighth grade students.

In ELA, Grade 7 and Grade 8 students identified as needing additional support in reading or writing participate in an RTI Tier II Literacy Lab. Similar to the RTI Tier II Math Labs, the Literacy Labs provide reinforcement and re-teaching of skills and strategies that enhance fluency, decoding, vocabulary, phonics, and comprehension. The changes we have made in Grades 5 and 6 to include more time on learning and to target an individual student’s needs has resulted in an increase in the number of students participating in the higher level classes in the seventh and eighth grade. For example, the number of students eligible to take a world language class and/or an advanced math class continues to grow from year to year.

NEASC requires that we reflect on our educational practice and work to align our practice with our school mission statement. As we move forward, we will continue to strive to improve our daily instruction in order to meet the needs of all of our students. The MVMS staff is proud to be an accredited member of the NEASC educational community.

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NEASC 2015-10