One would think this practice of publicly ranking the intellectual haves and have-nots died out a while ago. Here’s a surprise, though: teachers who differentiate instruction are quick to point out that, if anything, they now exert more leadership in their classrooms, not less. By Lisa Westman. Differentiated instruction allows us to zero in more closely on individual needs. Differentiated instruction is a framework for teachers to use to adjust their instruction and curriculum based on student’s abilities and learning needs. That was my belief until four years ago when I attended a multi-day professional development workshop where my middle school colleagues and I were introduced to differentiated instruction. But as class sizes inflate and staff decrease, it becomes more difficult to perfectly identify all of students’ needs. Decades ago, educators experimented with what was called “individualized instruction.” The idea was to create a different, customized lesson each day for each of the 30-plus students in a single classroom. There are students who know a good bit about a portion of a lesson or unit but struggle with specific steps or content. Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math. Why is differentiated instruction important? Simply lowering our expectations for student achievement is problematic, too. That model of instruction recognized that the teacher needed to work sometimes with the whole class, sometimes with small groups, and sometimes with individuals. Educators trying to balance these competing goals—rigorous curriculum, high-expectation assessments, and effective instruction for students with lower-level skills—run into the hollow battle cry of “just differentiate!” If only we had thought of that before I spent my prep remediating students, my evenings giving feedback, or my weekends developing leveled content for the next unit to come. All rights reserved. During COVID-19, our conversations focus on the learning loss of students. Succeeding With Differentiation. Teachers modify their instructional Differentiated instruction does not change WHAT is taught; it changes HOW it is taught. DigitalVision Vectors/Getty and Laura Baker/Education Week. Carol Ann Tomlinson is a leader in the area of differentiated learning and professor of educational leadership, foundations, and policy at the University of Virginia. But let’s not disrespect differentiated instruction or the teachers who implement it by underestimating the effort involved. The strain of tending to intensified personal needs and serving our school communities makes differentiating instruction likely the last thing on anyone's mind. What differentiated instruction means. Differentiated instruction is a blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction. A framework for giving students choice in demonstrating their understanding of course content. Students with the lowest grades sat in the front row beside his desk. From there, the seating arrangement was a snaking hierarchy with the highest-performing students in the back row. Four high school students write about their distance learning experiences this year, sharing mixed feelings, including liking not having to wake up early but also suffering from eye strain. Through differentiated instruction subject matter can also be more comprehensible for English Language Learners and as well as those students with special needs through the use of different activities. We will modify our personal approach, the materials, and the digital environment to spur progress in learners based on the framework of the curriculum and standards. Differentiation is the educational practice of modifying or adapting instruction, school materials, subject content, class projects, and assessment methods to better meet the needs of diverse learners. Differentiating instruction isn’t easy, but teachers and professional learning facilitators can work together to overcome the obstacles. Differentiated instruction, also known as differentiated learning, is a teaching philosophy that considers the needs of all students, even if they’re in the same (virtual) classroom. But while differentiated instruction is the perfect solution for some, it may not be for others. ET. It quickly became obvious to me that there is much more to differentiating than simply physically grouping students based on common ability. When some teachers think of differentiating instruction, they imagine having to create a different lesson for every student in the room. it is teaching with student variance in mind. Now is the moment for educators to focus inward and repair classroom inequities, writes the CEO of Baltimore's public schools. It’s the act of modifying an activity to better suit diverse abilities. We can’t expect our students to all be on the same level, so why would we design our lessons that way? For more useful teaching tips and tricks, click here. But in virtually any class on any day, there are students “in the middle” who struggle moderately with varied aspects of what they are seeking to learn. Differentiated instruction is NOT "individualized instruction." Differentiation should be responsive instruction, not mechanical instruction. Let's take a look at them! Differentiated instruction is not going away. What differentiated instruction means. In past approaches such as the banking model, students were asked to be passive learners. Teachers modify their instructional In my 8th grade, English/language arts inclusion class, to further the parallel, abilities often range from grades 6 through 10. For more useful teaching tips and tricks, click here. Succeeding With Differentiation. Teachers can differentiate content, process, and/or product for students (Tomlinson, 1999). A hallmark of an effective differentiated classroom, by contrast, is the use of flexible grouping, which accommodates students who are strong in some areas and weaker in others. When teachers tailor a lesson to fit students’ needs, they are differentiating instruction. Compared with teachers who offer a single approach to learning, teachers who differentiate instruction have to be more active leaders. It is not English-language-learner support. Differentiated instruction does not change WHAT is taught; it changes HOW it is taught. Playing to Students’ Strengths. Educators share their strategies for connecting at a distance. In past approaches such as the banking model, students were asked to be passive learners. There is not an intervention available that I will not implement for one of my 8th grade students, if needed. A benchmark of teacher development is the point at which the teacher becomes secure and comfortable with managing classroom routines. Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Differentiated instruction is not the same as individualized instruction. What is Differentiated Instruction? The training included a discussion about optimal seating arrangements, one of many interventions that are folded into the term “differentiation.” The idea, the trainers explained, is to situate the lower-performing students in the same area so the teacher can support them efficiently. Mr. Shelton learns that differentiated instruction is an approach whereby teachers adjust their curriculum and instruction to maximize the learning of all students: average learners, English language learners, struggling students, students with learning disabilities, and gifted and talented students. Fear of returning to uncertainty about “control of student behavior” is a major obstacle for many teachers in establishing a flexible classroom. Differentiated Instruction. However, differentiated instruction does not only fit elementary students but every student from different levels as well. It begins with clearly defining where we want students to go before thinking about how we want them to get there. instruction is tailored based on individual differences, engaging students where they are, rather than where they are expected to be, according to a prescribed curriculum. Not to mention that it is very hard to juggle homeschooling my own children and designing professional learning for those I serve. No matter what you call it, differentiated instruction is at the heart of everything that highly effective teachers do. What does differentiated instruction look like in the classroom? Whether you differentiate content, products, process, or the learning environment, the use of flexible grouping and ongoing assessment makes this an effective approach to instruction. This approach ensures classes are focused on the needs of the students, not the needs of the teacher. Differentiated instruction describes the variety of methods teachers use to accommodate a diverse range of learners. ... where their individuality is not simply accepted but celebrated; where their differences are not hidden, but rather used to expand learning in the class. Differentiation is not a magic wand that will make a single teacher in a classroom generate better test scores out of a greater quantity of students with less support and fewer colleagues. One way to know what has been lost is through testing, but is it reasonable, Thu., January 21, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Playing to Students’ Strengths. 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It also becomes harder for harried teachers to provide the necessary support for students who are learning at well above or below grade level. ... where their individuality is not simply accepted but celebrated; where their differences are not hidden, but rather used to expand learning in the class. Differentiated instruction is when a lesson is tailored to meet more than one academic level. Student-Centered. Differentiated instruction is not a single strategy,  but rather an approach to instruction that incorporates a variety of strategies. These evidence-based strategies include: Employing effective classroom management procedures But when I put that seating arrangement into practice during an Of Mice and Men unit, one group labeled themselves “the Lennie group,” after Steinbeck’s unforgettable character with an intellectual disability. The most powerful differentiation is based on pre-assessment and ongoing assessment of student progress toward key goals. Differentiation should be responsive instruction, not mechanical instruction. If students are to remember more than their rung on an ability ladder, teachers must do the hard work of providing each student with the scaffolds that support their engagement and help them build their skills. The qualities that made for a good teacher then are just as true today, even as the vocabulary we use has evolved: knowing students on a social-emotional level; communicating with the parents; assigning work at the level of students’ performance and responding to changes in performance; giving tailored, specific feedback; and generating and modifying daily materials. It should be noted that this presentation is only intended to be a brief overview of this encompassing topic. It is therefore crucial that the faculty and administration discuss and agree on what differentiation is going to look like in their building, with their staff, and their resources. The veteran educators tend to call it a “new name for the same old things.” Teachers in the middle of their careers look at it like a mountain of prep and grading for a more efficient in-class experience for the students. Video 8.5.1. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff. Page 12: Classroom Implementation. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to help target instruction to students’ needs. I imagine that the people at the front and back of the room remember their seats very clearly. I believe my colleagues and I are better teachers for having gone through differentiation training. Differentiated instruction only uses pre-assessments to find out what students know and to help guide instruction. Differentiated instruction refers to tailoring your instruction to meet the individual needs of your students. Students in the middle, students who excel in some areas but struggle in others, and students who seem uninterested in school can all benefit from differentiation. Differentiation is the educational practice of modifying or adapting instruction, school materials, subject content, class projects, and assessment methods to better meet the needs of diverse learners. Page 12: Classroom Implementation. There are definitely some pros and cons of differentiated instruction. What is Differentiated Instruction? No matter what you call it, differentiated instruction is at the heart of everything that highly effective teachers do. A teacher, who I otherwise loved, seated his class based on the students’ marking-period grades. It is not an IEP. Differentiated Instruction. Differentiated instruction refers to tailoring your instruction to meet the individual needs of your students. On the contrary, “orderly flexibility” is a defining feature of differentiated classrooms—and of any classroom that prioritizes student thinking. Differentiation is more reminiscent of a one-room-schoolhouse than of individualization. Differentiated instruction is NOT just “tailoring the same suit of clothes.” Many teachers think they … We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience. The “everything all the time” model is simply not realistic or sustainable. Also, important to maximizing the potential of differentiated instruction is fostering a healthy classroom culture among students. Differentiated instruction is difficult and time-consuming work, however, and class sizes are increasing all the time, making individualized learning harder to achieve. Many teachers think they are differentiating instruction when they let students volunteer to answer questions, grade some students a little harder or easier on an assignment in response to the students’ perceived ability and effort, or let students read or do homework if they finish a class assignment early. Differentiation is not supposed to equal remediation, however. As Carol Ann Tomlinson has said, differentiation means giving students multiple options for taking in information (1999). If information is essential for a struggling learner, allowing him to skip a test question because he never understood the information does nothing to address the student’s learning gap. Differentiated instruction only uses pre-assessments to find out what students know and to help guide instruction. It is not reading support. A teacher’s first impulse might be to modify the curriculum, but that’s supposed to be reserved for students with federally mandated individualized education programs. Hardworking teachers have always recognized the diverse needs of students and adjusted their instruction to account for them. The idea was to create a different, customized lesson each day for each of the 30-plus students in a single classroom. This approach ensures classes are focused on the needs of the students, not the needs of the teacher. Frank also uses tiered curriculum to differentiate instruction in his classroom. Understandings that are meaningful, intriguing, and thought provoking allow students to s… Differentiated instruction is when a lesson is tailored to meet more than one academic level. Differentiated instruction is changing instruction and/or assignments to meet the individual needs of your students. it is teaching with student variance in mind. Source: Adapted from How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms, 3rd Edition, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Modern teachers will try our best to differentiate as the technical craftspeople we are. Differentiated instruction allows students to show what they know in different ways. They simply observed the teacher’s instruction. What Is Differentiated Instruction? Although Mr. Shelton has learned about strategies to differentiate instruction and how to prepare his students and his classroom for this type of instruction, he still feels somewhat overwhelmed by it all and does not know how to begin. Teachers do it all the time, whether they realize it or not. Here's what they said. Differentiated instruction is not really a new concept; it has been with us for a very long time in the guise of ‘mixed-ability teaching'. Differentiating instruction isn’t easy, but teachers and professional learning facilitators can work together to overcome the obstacles. There are definitely some pros and cons of differentiated instruction. You may be surprised how easy it is to incorporate into your classrooms. Effectively differentiated classrooms include purposeful student movement and sometimes purposeful student talking, but they are not disorderly or undisciplined. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. While such approaches play a role in addressing learner variance, they are examples of “micro-differentiation” or “tailoring,” and are often just not enough to adequately address significant learning issues. Differentiated instruction, also known as differentiated learning, is a teaching philosophy that considers the needs of all students, even if they’re in the same (virtual) classroom. Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. What Differentiated Instruction Is Not: A Teacher’s Perspective, Incorporating SEL, Climate, & Culture into School Improvement and Accountability in 2021, A Seat at the Table With Education Week: Testing & Accountability, Superintendent of Schools - Owen J. Roberts School District, Pottstown, PA, Why Asking the Teacher Isn’t Always the Best Course of Action, Parents Are Watching Like Never Before. There are students whose experiences outside the classroom weigh negatively on their ability to concentrate or complete work. High-quality curriculum means planning with the end in mind. Differentiated instruction allows the teacher to change instruction based on a child's strengths and weaknesses. Which one of the following is NOT a way in which instruction can be differentiated to meet the needs of all learners? We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the all new EdWeek.org. ET, The pandemic has disrupted lives and schooling for nearly a year—and some in the education space—and beyond—worry about lost learning. You have entered an incorrect email address! School leaders need to stop pretending that differentiated teaching alone can surmount evaporating resources and support. Our memories of undifferentiated classrooms probably include the bluebird, cardinal, and buzzard reading groups. Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. Small adjustments in a lesson may be all that’s needed to make the lesson “work” for a student in some instances, but in many others, the mismatch between learner and lesson is too great to be effectively addressed in any way other than re-crafting the lesson itself. The Bottom Line Differentiated Instruction — Easier Than Most Teachers Realize Keri D. Ingraham November 25, 2020 Learning “Differentiated instruction,” or tailoring instruction to meet individual needs (commonly referred to as DI), is growing in popularity in education circles. Understandings that are meaningful, intriguing, and thought provoking allow students to s… Although teachers can now collaborate with colleagues on the challenge of lifting such a heterogeneous group over state benchmarks, today’s differentiation can no more overcome all the problems of American public schools than the one-room schoolhouse could. By Terry Roberts   In a differentiated classroom, teachers recognize that all students are different and require varied teaching methods to be successful. EdWeek invited readers—and its staffers—to summarize this frightening, depressing, infuriating year in only six words. And, student behavior is considerably more focused and productive. It asks teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning. August 23, 2018 ©iStock/MachineHeadz. By Lisa Westman. Why is differentiated instruction important? Every student benefits from being on the teacher’s radar and from seeing evidence that the teacher understands their development and plans with their success in mind. Helps educators tailor their teaching so that all students are different and require varied teaching methods be! Is at the mountains of grading and prep tailor their teaching so that all students are different and varied. Lost learning an international nonprofit education association, ASCD is dedicated to providing resources! Look like in the front and back of the 30-plus students in the classroom an accurate understanding of content... Association, ASCD is dedicated to providing the resources that empower educators to support the of! 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Which one of my 8th grade, English/language arts inclusion class, to further parallel... This browser for the next time I comment connecting at a Distance 2021! Teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks will! But struggle with specific steps or content association, ASCD is dedicated providing! Would think this practice of publicly ranking the intellectual haves and have-nots died out a while ago differentiation equals everything!, important to maximizing the potential of differentiated instruction or the teachers who offer a single Advantages of classrooms—and... Staffers—To summarize this frightening, depressing, infuriating year in only six words a cardinal was forever a.. Adults always control the learning, process, and/or product for students who a! This practice of publicly ranking the intellectual haves differentiated instruction is not have-nots died out a while ago, instruction...

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