Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is an important teaching and learning strategy that engages students in the learning process to acquire higher-order thinking skills such as constructing their own understanding and meaning, learning to reason, problem solve and think critically about content (Borich, p. 330). In this approach, the role of the teacher is simply to mediate and adjust the flow of content and complexity toward the intended outcome or objective; there are no wrong answers.
According to Borich, when it comes to self-directed learning, my role will be more of a “monitor and co-inquirer than an information provider” because the knowledge and skills that the students are intended to acquire are not regurgitated or pre-packaged, active exploration and engagement is necessary to reach the finished product (Borich, pp. 332, 334).

I remember English classes in high school where teachers would lecture at me and I became a very passive learner–which probably plays a large role in why I did not realize my love for literature until college. In college, self-directed and discussion-based, cooperative learning was the foundation of each class session and we were required to take responsibility for our learning and to be active participants in the inquiry and discovery of meanings in our texts. This method of learning made all the difference for me and so I intend to employ it when instructing my future high school literature students.

Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Inclusive Education and Differentiated Instruction

EDSP-Literature Review

A Reflection on What This Paper Means to Me

After reading the articles for this assignment, what impacted me most was an expanded definition of inclusion; a definition that focuses on resisting “the many ways students experience marginalization and exclusion in schools” (Broderick, Mehta-Parekh & Reid, p.195). Homogeneity exists neither in “mainstream” nor in segregated special-education classrooms. In my reading, I discovered specific ways of creating a positive and collaborative learning environment, as well as practical examples of what differentiating instruction looks like in general education classrooms. A teacher must employ strategies that make each individual feel included and differentiated instructional practices to cater to the heterogeneous group.

In my literature review paper, I discuss the importance of creating an inclusive classroom environment and provide strategies and specific examples of what that might look like in a general education classroom. Additionally I discuss what differentiated instruction is and how it can be implemented to ensure that all students have access to the content and processes of daily learning. This topic is extremely important and relevant to me, because as a future teacher, I want and need to do everything possible to ensure that all students, including students with special needs or disabilities are able to succeed socially and academically in my classroom. I also explore what it looks like to implement differentiation of instruction and content in order to attend to the unique learning needs and preferences of students.

If a student feels isolated or does not have the necessary support or access to learning materials, they will not succeed. My hope is that my students will not only succeed, but they will thrive and that is why the strategies and perspectives in this paper will positively impact my future teaching practices.

Alicia Broderick, Heeral Mehta-Parekh & D. Kim Reid (2005): Differentiating Instruction for Disabled Students in Inclusive Classrooms, Theory into Practice, 44:3, pp.194-202. Accessed through JSTOR on May 1, 2013

Direct and Indirect Instruction

Instructional variety and flexibility is key to keeping students engaged and interested. Employing a balance of both direct and indirect instruction formats is a valuable way of diversifying teaching strategies to compose, create and manipulate lessons. Direct instruction is teacher-centered, and an effective way of “teaching knowledge acquisition of facts, rules and action sequences…” (Borich, p.223).  Direct instruction is characterized as:

1)   Full-class instruction instead of small groups

2)   Organization of learning around question posed

3)   Provision of detailed and redundant practice

4)   Presenting material so learners master one new fact, rule, or sequence before the next

5)   Arrangement of the room maximizes recitation and practice (p.225)

As a secondary English teacher, I might use direct instruction when teaching my students how to structure and format a research paper, elements of a plot, literary devices or grammar rules for the proper use of commas, colons, and semi colons.

Situations that may require strategies other than direct instruction include

1)   “presenting complex material with objectives at the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels of the cognitive domain” (Borich, p.226)

2)   “presenting content that must be learned gradually over a long period” (p.226)

Indirect instruction is more student-focused, and teaches “inquiry and problem solving involving concepts, patters, and abstractions…” (p.223). The inquiry process emphasizes the ways in which things are organized, changing and connected whereas conceptual learning includes identifying essential and nonessential attributes, selecting positive and negative examples, and developing rules that define the attributes of the concept (p.269). Both of these will be learning strategies that I will undoubtedly use in my secondary English classroom to identify literary, interpret and connect literary concepts to deepen student understanding of a variety of texts.


Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.