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Helping All Learners: Entry Points

How can a teacher "hook" students at the beginning of a unit of study?

Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Differentiation
  • Professional Development

Type

Online Learning

Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner believes that any course topic compelling enough to be taught can be approached through at least five different entry points. These entry points map to his descriptions of our "multiple intelligences" and can be leveraged to engage students in a topic of study and promote motivation early in any given unit.

Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Differentiation
  • Professional Development

Type

Online Learning

Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner believes that any course topic compelling enough to be taught can be approached through at least five different entry points. These entry points map to his descriptions of our "multiple intelligences" and can be leveraged to engage students in a topic of study and promote motivation early in any given unit.

Theories and goals of education don't matter a whit if you don't consider your students to be human beings. Lou Ann Walker, professor

Gardner explains that a compelling topic is a room with at least five doors. Students can enter that room through any of those doors, and by doing so they will have a sense of comfort and increased motivation during initial stages of learning. Students can also be challenged by their teachers or themselves to develop other intelligences by entering the topic through a door they would not typically choose. Awareness of these entry points can be used by both teachers and students to increase motivation and learn multiple perspectives on the topic being studied.

Learning Target

I can explain how to use entry points to leverage student differences in learning profile and interest when differentiating my instruction. 

Review: Entry Points

In order to make students’ early experiences with a topic more engaging and motivating, students are offered a variety of ways to “enter into” the study. This “entry point” strategy responds primarily to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and fits nicely into the Building Background Knowledge Workshop  structure.

Five Entry Points to Build Understanding

  1. Narrational entry point—through stories and words; read or tell a story or narrative
  2. Logical-quantitative entry point—numerically with measurement; provide data, use deductive reasoning, examine numbers, statistics musical rhythm, logic, narrative plot structure, cause and effect relationships
  3. Foundational entry point—through philosophy, background, root systems, rationales; big questions about life, death, and our place in the world; philosophy, meaning
  4. Aesthetic entry point—through sensory means; emphasize sensory and/or surface features, activate aesthetic sensitivities
  5. Experimental entry point—through personal encounters through experiences of others; a hands-on approach, dealing directly with materials (physically or virtually), simulations, personal explanations

Task: Choose One

Choose one of the options below to begin our study of global warming. 

Task Learning Target

I can examine the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion.

  1. Aesthetic: Listen to three charity songs and three songs criticizing the response to Hurricane Katrina listed on the Wikipedia web page. Then, examine photographs of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina in this Google search. Choose three photos that help explain the cause and effect relationships in our target. Finally, read the content found on the Exploring Earth website and be ready to share what you know about the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion. 
  2. Narrative: Watch Hurricane Katrina and Katrina Survivors to get a sense of the effect of the hurricane on the people of New Orleans. Then view and read the photo essay Hurricane Katrina: Survivors and Stories for additional perspectives. Finally, read the content found on the Exploring Earth website and be ready to share what you know about the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion. 
  3. Logical/Quantitative: Work through several pieces of information that include text, images, and data tables located on the National Climate Data Center website. After spending time learning the current state of the climate, look into wildfires and societal impacts. Finally, read the content found on the Exploring Earth website and be ready to share what you know about the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion. 
  4. Foundational Window: Review The Carbon Map to get a sense of who is most responsible for climate change and who is most vulnerable to the consequences. Then read a blog post from The Nation and a blog post from The Guardian, which offer two differing perspectives. Consider the role that individuals play in climate change. Finally, read the content found on the Exploring Earth website and be ready to share what you know about the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion.
  5. Experiential Window: Watch Hurricane Katrina and Dynamic Earth Simulation to help you understand the first-hand experience of the storm and the evolution of the storm from a scientific perspective. Then try to create a hurricane using Create a Cane. Finally, read the content found on the Exploring Earth website and be ready to share what you know about the cause and effect relationships between environmental factors, human actions, and weathering and erosion.

*Note: Completing these activities will not equate to students having mastered the learning target. They are designed to increase student interest during the initial activities of a new unit of study. 

Consider

  1. How did the task you selected increase motivation for you as a learner? 
  2. What would be the effect on your students if they had a similar experience in your class?

Dig Deeper

Video: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences

​Edutopia (1997). *Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences* Retrieved October 15, 2015 from https://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video

Discuss

For Teachers:

  1. The goal of differentiated instruction is to reach every student. How can you use Gardner’s concept of entry points to reach each student in your classroom? Perhaps think of one student in particular who is difficult to motivate, and consider how using the entry points may increase motivation.
  2. This page introduces a way to compel students to want to learn more. Consider the role of assessment in a learning activity like the ones provided here. How would you collect evidence of student learning?

For School Leaders:

  1. As you can imagine, planning differentiated instruction for students is hard work. It is time-consuming. What supports in terms of guidance and time will you provide to teachers to help them reach every student in your school?