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. What does differentiated instruction look like in the classroom? Differentiation should be responsive instruction, not mechanical instruction. An international nonprofit education association, ASCD is dedicated to providing the resources that empower educators to support the success of each learner. Teachers need to build community as well as attend to individual needs. Differentiated instruction is a wonderful strategy but with a class of ESE students it is difficult to use without an assistant to help. Student-Centered. Teachers modify their instructional What differentiated instruction means. ©2017 by ASCD. High-quality curriculum means planning with the end in mind. A teacher, who I otherwise loved, seated his class based on the students’ marking-period grades. When some teachers think of differentiating instruction, they imagine having to create a different lesson for every student in the room. Differentiated instruction is not going away. 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. Differentiation is a way of teaching; it’s not a program or package of worksheets. Differentiating Instruction: It’s Not as Hard as You Think provides an introduction to differentiation in instruction. 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. Differentiated Instruction. With tiers, there … It asks teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning. Page 12: Classroom Implementation. 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. It can work well in general education classes that include students with learning and thinking differences. By Lisa Westman. Video 8.5.1. No matter what you call it, differentiated instruction is at the heart of everything that highly effective teachers do. Differentiated instruction is not the same as individualized instruction. 'Trust Us' Isn't Enough, Distance Learning 'Has Been OK, I Guess': Students Share About This Year's Experiences. ET. 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. Playing to Students’ Strengths. All teachers differentiate to some degree. It should be noted that this presentation is only intended to be a brief overview of this encompassing topic. 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. 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. At times, whole-class instruction is important and effective. What do we want them to Know, Understand, and be able to Do (KUD) as a result of the learning experience? However, differentiated instruction is not 30 students doing 30 different lessons – that would be impossible, unmanageable, completely ineffective and chaotic. What do we want them to Know, Understand, and be able to Do (KUD) as a result of the learning experience? Let's take a look at them! It is not an even trade for a classroom assistant. 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. Why is differentiated instruction important? ET, The pandemic has disrupted lives and schooling for nearly a year—and some in the education space—and beyond—worry about lost learning. Differentiated instruction only uses pre-assessments to find out what students know and to help guide instruction. A benchmark of teacher development is the point at which the teacher becomes secure and comfortable with managing classroom routines. Those middle-of-career teachers can attest that trying to level materials to a student who is below grade level is harder than it seems. What has actually worked for building student-teacher relationships so far this year? Sign up to get the latest Education Week Opinion in your email inbox.A version of this article appeared in the November 27, 2019 edition of Education Week as What Differentiated Instruction Is Not. Differentiated instruction does not change WHAT is taught; it changes HOW it is taught. 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. In the middle schools where I have taught, differentiated instruction is understood in multiple ways. We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience. However, differentiated instruction does not only fit elementary students but every student from different levels as well. The strain of tending to intensified personal needs and serving our school communities makes differentiating instruction likely the last thing on anyone's mind. ©2020 Editorial Projects in Education, Inc. Let's take a look at them! Differentiated instruction allows us to zero in more closely on individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction. By Lisa Westman. 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. Differentiated instruction is a blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction. You have entered an incorrect email address! We can’t expect our students to all be on the same level, so why would we design our lessons that way? The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the nation’s mental health and equity concerns, has accelerated the shift in the accountability landscape. The “everything all the time” model is simply not realistic or sustainable. 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. Otherwise, differentiation risks becoming yet another washed-up idea. Differentiated instruction is when a lesson is tailored to meet more than one academic level. Educators share their strategies for connecting at a distance. Here's what they said. 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. Advantages of differentiated instruction include: 1. Playing to Students’ Strengths. 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. Differentiated instruction is a very popular, not to mention broad, topic in today’s educational arena. 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'. 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. 1  In a differentiated classroom, teachers recognize that all students are different and require varied teaching methods to be successful. 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. What is Differentiated Instruction? The idea was to create a different, customized lesson each day for each of the 30-plus students in a single classroom. But let’s not disrespect differentiated instruction or the teachers who implement it by underestimating the effort involved. At times, whole-class instruction is important and effective. Differentiated instruction refers to tailoring your instruction to meet the individual needs of your students. Simply lowering our expectations for student achievement is problematic, too. And, student behavior is considerably more focused and productive. No matter what you call it, differentiated instruction is at the heart of everything that highly effective teachers do. It begins with clearly defining where we want students to go before thinking about how we want them to get there. In a differentiated classroom, the goal is to have students work consistently with a wide variety of peers and with tasks thoughtfully designed not only to draw on the strengths of all members of a group but also to shore up those students’ areas of need. Each student requires one on one instruction. By Terry Roberts 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. There are students who know a good bit about a portion of a lesson or unit but struggle with specific steps or content. In my 8th grade, English/language arts inclusion class, to further the parallel, abilities often range from grades 6 through 10. They simply observed the teacher’s instruction. There are definitely some pros and cons of differentiated instruction. It’s the act of modifying an activity to better suit diverse abilities. As we move beyond test scores to a more holistic picture of students and school, Wed., January 13, 2021, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Differentiated instruction refers to tailoring your instruction to meet the individual needs of your students. August 23, 2018 ©iStock/MachineHeadz. The most powerful differentiation is based on pre-assessment and ongoing assessment of student progress toward key goals. It begins with clearly defining where we want students to go before thinking about how we want them to get there. 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'. All rights reserved. Differentiated instruction allows the teacher to change instruction based on a child's strengths and weaknesses. Differentiated instruction is not a single Students work in a variety of group configurations, as well as independently. Differentiated instruction describes the variety of methods teachers use to accommodate a diverse range of learners. The software students are using helps teachers at Whittemore Park differentiate instruction. In the era of one-room schoolhouses, a single teacher needed to engage students of a wide age range. From there, the seating arrangement was a snaking hierarchy with the highest-performing students in the back row. A framework for giving students choice in demonstrating their understanding of course content. Not to mention that it is very hard to juggle homeschooling my own children and designing professional learning for those I serve. I imagine that the people at the front and back of the room remember their seats very clearly. I was in high school in 2000, among the first cohort of 21st-century learners. Differentiated instruction only uses pre-assessments to find out what students know and to help guide instruction. School leaders need to stop pretending that differentiated teaching alone can surmount evaporating resources and support. Differentiated instruction is changing instruction and/or assignments to meet the individual needs of your students. If the basic assignment itself is far too easy for an advanced learner, having a chance to answer an additional complex question is not an adequate challenge. There are definitely some pros and cons of differentiated instruction. Frank also uses tiered curriculum to differentiate instruction in his classroom. The young and bright-eyed educators come into the field with the idea that differentiation equals “everything all the time.”. 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. Chad Towarnicki is an 8th grade English/language arts teacher in Ambler, Pa. Now is the moment for educators to focus inward and repair classroom inequities, writes the CEO of Baltimore's public schools. What is Differentiated Instruction? 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. Students work in a variety of group configurations, as well as independently. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to help target instruction to students’ needs. When teachers tailor a lesson to fit students’ needs, they are differentiating instruction. I believe my colleagues and I are better teachers for having gone through differentiation training. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the all new EdWeek.org. Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math. In this 2014 photo, 6th graders Willyum Oliver and Michael James (from left) discuss a math performance task during class at Whittemore Park Middle School in Conway, S.C.. What does differentiated instruction look like in the classroom? ... where their individuality is not simply accepted but celebrated; where their differences are not hidden, but rather used to expand learning in the class. For more useful teaching tips and tricks, click here. 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. Succeeding With Differentiation. it is teaching with student variance in mind. High-quality curriculum means planning with the end in mind. Not all students are alike. 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. Differentiated instruction, the tailoring of educational experiences to meet individual learner needs, is nothing new. Why is differentiated instruction important? In past approaches such as the banking model, students were asked to be passive learners. The standards represent grade-level achievement, which is supposed to be the aim. 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. Submitted by Joan Risner (not verified) on April 5, 2015 - 6:18am 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. During COVID-19, our conversations focus on the learning loss of students. Teachers do it all the time, whether they realize it or not. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to help target instruction to students’ needs. As Carol Ann Tomlinson has said, differentiation means giving students multiple options for taking in information (1999). It is not an IEP. 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. Differentiation should be responsive instruction, not mechanical instruction. Page 12: Classroom Implementation. Differentiated instruction (DI) begins with an accurate understanding of what DI is—and is not. On the contrary, “orderly flexibility” is a defining feature of differentiated classrooms—and of any classroom that prioritizes student thinking. Student-Centered. 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. We will, somehow, sand away at the mountains of grading and prep. It is not English-language-learner support. A framework for giving students choice in demonstrating their understanding of course content. But as class sizes inflate and staff decrease, it becomes more difficult to perfectly identify all of students’ needs. Differentiating instruction isn’t easy, but teachers and professional learning facilitators can work together to overcome the obstacles. Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. Differentiated instruction is changing instruction and/or assignments to meet the individual needs of your students. ET. Teachers can differentiate content, process, and/or product for students (Tomlinson, 1999). What Is Differentiated Instruction? And no, DI is not a separate lesson plan for each student. Source: Adapted from How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms, 3rd Edition, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Alexandria, VA: ASCD. That model of instruction recognized that the teacher needed to work sometimes with the whole class, sometimes with small groups, and sometimes with individuals. Differentiated instruction allows all students to access the same classroom curriculum by providing entry points, learning tasks, and outcomes that are tailored to students’ needs (Hall, Strangman, & Meyer, 2003). All students high-quality curriculum means planning with the highest-performing students in the education space—and beyond—worry about lost learning not students. The heart of everything that highly effective teachers do it all the time ” model is simply not or... Is differentiated instruction only uses pre-assessments to find out what students know and to target! Has accelerated the shift in the classroom weigh negatively on their ability to concentrate or complete.! Park differentiate instruction in his classroom so far this year 's experiences build community well... 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