Having identified differentiated instruction as my area of interest, my research question is designed to investigate the effectiveness of differentiated instruction when teachers are trained during professional development, and whether this relates to the teachers` ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in the classroom. Therefore, in order to make sense of how others in my area of interest are implementing changes into their practice, I chose to analyze strategies used in the article by Larson and Sherrill (2003), which investigated how multi-age grouping may work as a tool for differentiating instruction in a highly diverse student population. The reason why I chose this article is because I am doing my action research on differentiated instruction in mixed ability high school classrooms. My decision to focus on this teaching strategy was driven by the need to establish whether differentiated instruction is a working strategy or not.
In this article, the purpose of study was to assess how multi-age grouping can be a tool for differentiated instruction capable of creating successful literacy experiences in a highly diverse student population. After determining the student reading groups, the focus of the student groups was directed towards teaching of strategies necessary to improve reading skills. The strategies included: the use of picture clues to decode text meaning, reading for fluency and comprehension, and retelling. In order to help students focus on the lesson objective, teachers created and used worksheets to guide the students. The worksheets also helped to provide feedback both for the students and the researchers. This study found out that multiage groups and partner reading set ups had an extremely positive and effective impact on the students’ ability to succeed (Larson and Sherrill, 2003).
It was possible to envision what was tried based on how Larson and Sherrill wrote about the strategies in this article. They started with a clear statement of the goals of the study. The first goal was to develop the understanding and ability of reading for a purpose. The second goal was to develop the practice of reading independently through different word solving clues as well as recalling and retelling text events. The first and second goals were to be carried out through the selected second grade group of students. On the other hand, a fourth grade students group was selected with a view to meet the goal of developing a more positive image of themselves as readers while working as mentors for the second grade students (Larson and Sherrill, 2003).
Although the article clearly outlined the strategies involved in the study, I wish the authors could provide the assumptions which they made while coming up with the selected students of the two grade groups used in the study. This would help to establish if the choice criteria used was the best and whether it can be relied upon for the future studies. Furthermore, I would have better understood the innovation if the authors had provided the limitations involved in the study.
Larson L, and Sherrill M, (2003) How Does Multi-Age Grouping Work as a Tool for Differentiating Instruction in a Highly Diverse Student Population. Retrieved from http://gse.gmu.edu/assets/docs/lmtip/vol3/L.Larson_M.Sherrill.pdf