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Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
September 1, 1999
Vol. 57
No. 1

EL Extra

Welcome to EL Extra. We have designed questions to help you and your colleagues foster meaningful discussions around the current Educational Leadership.
The study guide may be related to a particular article, a group of articles, or a theme that runs through the entire issue. Our questions will not cover all aspects of the issue, but we are hopeful that they will help you generate a conversation around key ideas. Feel free to adapt the questions to be more relevant to your school or school district—and you may even want to think of some of your own. Although you can consider many of the questions on your own, we encourage you to use them in pairs, small groups, or even large study groups.

Reflecting on Personalized Learning

  • What is the typical student load in your school?
  • Do teachers have the time to develop a real understanding of the needs of all individual students, including those who are “in the middle”?
  • Do classroom teachers in your school have the authority to act on their knowledge of individual students? If not, what changes would enable them to acquire that authority?
  • Can curriculum options in your school be simplified to enable students to have more authentic choices?
  • How could educators use progress by performance in your school?

Differentiated Instruction and Teaching

  • According to Tomlinson, the first step to effective teaching is knowing “where we want to end up before we get start out—and plan to get there” (p. 13). What kinds of goals do you set for your classroom curriculum, and what activities help you get there?
  • Compare Mr. Appleton’s and Mrs. Baker’s classrooms. What changes would you make in both classrooms to improve student understanding, engagement, and meaningful differentiation?
  • Think about your own classrooms. Describe an example of differentiated instruction and how it worked. How might you plan a unit, lesson, or activity differently?

Personalized Learning and Tougher Standards

  • Do you agree with Kohn’s assessment that standards need to be “as vague as possible”? Why or why not?
  • How do you balance districtwide or statewide standards with what Kohn calls “student-driven, in-depth learning” in your classrooms and schools? Do you find that teachers struggle to maintain this balance?
  • What do you feel is an appropriate role for testing in schools?
  • Kohn describes the need for teachers to share authority with students and to allow students to make decisions about their own lives and work. To what extent do you share his vision?

Detecting Social Problems and Preventing School Violence

  • What are some early warning signs of troubling behavior among students?
  • When students exhibit early warning signs of troubling behavior, who are the mental health professionals or counselors to contact in your school? What is the procedure for alerting them?
  • How can teachers in your school, regardless of subject area, foster social-emotional learning among students?
  • What can educators do to develop their own reflective capacities?
  • How can your school involve parents and community members in social-emotional learning efforts?

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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