Same Destination, Different Paths
Students can take different paths to the same destination. Differentiated classrooms offer students a variety of choice to help meet their learning styles. This allows them to become self-directed and more engaged.
Effective differentiated instructions are planned and are proactive. Strategies are available to meet the needs of all student to succeed in achieving learning objectives and standards. The teacher is responsible for connecting content, process, and product. Students, in turn, will respond to learning based on readiness, interests, and learning profile.
The knowledge, concepts, and skills that students need based on the curriculum. Differentiation content means providing various medium and formats for students to receive the material.
Differentiated process means providing various ways for students to make sense of the content. It is a formative assessment opportunity that allows students to process what they know or don’t know.
The most common form of differentiation. It provides choices and allows students to propose their own designs. Products can range in complexity, but it aligns in a respectful way for all students.
A personal area of interest to me is creating learning environments. When I was first introduced to PYP and the Reggio-Amelia framework, I learned the power of learning environment. It was referred to the third-teacher. With a focus on 21st-century learning, schools have begun to redesign learning environments with buzz words such as makerspace, design thinking rooms, STEM/STEAM room, and the list goes on. These rooms are not only motivating students, but it is motivating teachers!
The conditions necessary for optimal learning include the physical layout of the room and the psychological elements. A flexible classroom layout allows for students to easily arrange in groups, pairs, or work individually. The room meets the psychological needs of safety and allows students to be receptive to learning. Successful learning environments go further by motivating and promoting inquiry.
“The tone of any classroom greatly affects those who inhabit it and the learning that takes place there. Classroom environment in a setting that strives for differentiation is, if anything, even more of a factor in shaping success. A differentiated classroom should support, and is supported by, an evolving community of learners. What that means is that the teacher leads his students in developing the sorts of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that would characterize a really good neighborhood.” (Tomlinson 2001)
Differentiated Instruction Strategies
Station rotation allows a teacher to easily manage differentiation while providing students various content.
Collaborative Group Work
Students learn better from their peers (Boud 2001). Although collaborative work may take more time and planning, it allows students to work interdependently.
Provocations that promote inquiry draws students in and engages them in the learning at the beginning.
Students conduct a survey on a topic that interests them. They must collect data through interviews and then present their information.
Students build working memories through multiple sensory input of the same content, their brains develop multiple connections leading to the same memory storage destination (Willis 2006). Graphic organizers, picture vocab, and manipulatives.
Gather information about your students and know their strengths and weakness. Understand how they learn and what interests them the most. This should be ongoing throughout the year.
Offer feedback that is unique to each student. This allows them to improve in the way that best meets them, while also knowing that you mean it.
Assign peer mentoring to help with group work and increase accountability. Students are encouraged to support their friends and not to be competitive with learning.
A great management strategy that also supports differentiation through chunking and modeling. Students support the mini-lesson to gain practice and to see examples.
Differentiated Instruction Strategies Infographic
TeachThough gathered a list of 50 differentiation strategies to create “The Ultimate List: 50 Strategies For Differentiated Instruction”. The list is derived from the guru of differentiation Dr. Carol Ann Tomilson’s book What Differentiation Is–And Is Not: The Definition Of Differentiation.
Support All Students
Differentiated instruction is effective for high-ability students as well as students with mild to severe disabilities.
With more options, students learn in a way that is most meaningful to them and take more responsibility for their own learning.
Boredom drives students to misbehave. Differentiated instructions allow students to be more involved in the content, process, and product.
Supporting Multiple Intelligences Through Differentiated Instructions
Students learn in different ways and problem solve using different approaches. Teachers help students through their learning journey through scaffolded lessons that offer options and accommodate learning preferences. Howard Garner proposed the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983 in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. His theory states that everyone has different strengths and weakness intelligence ‘modalities’ instead of just a single general ability intelligence. Considering a students intelligence strengths and weakness allows a teacher to plan for differentiation. They can present content in ways that are meaningful for all students, and students can, in turn, present their understanding in a way that is valued by the class.