Differentiated Instruction


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What is Differentiated Learning?

Why Should the Teacher use it?

Differentiated Instruction:

How is differentiated instruction different than individualized instruction?

    Differentiated Instruction is a teaching theory based on the thought that instructional approaches should  be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms.  Where Individual instruction focuses on the classroom as a whole and teaching to it, differentiated instruction shows that each student is different and there are different ways of learning for each person.  Therefore instead of just teaching a lesson, teachers need to create a lesson and deliver it so that every single person in the class comprehends and benefits from the lesson.

When and how should teachers use differentiated instruction?

            Differentiated Instruction should be used anytime.  All classes have different types of learners and they all need to be met.  Teachers need to consider the different needs of the students and teach so that all of them are met.  In differentiated classrooms the teacher thinks and plans in terms of "multiple avenues to learning" for different needs, rather than in terms of "normal" and "different." The goal for each student is to learn and grow as much as possible even though they all learn differently.  The goal of the teacher is coming to understand more and more about that learning position so that learning matches learner need.  In differentiated classrooms there will be a variety of tasks going on at once, and sometimes separate.  These tasks are designed to allow every student in the room to be met. Over time, all students complete assignments individually and in small groups, and whole-group instruction occurs as well.  The teacher is very active with every student, and attends to the student’s needs so as to not let any one learner behind.

What are the research findings about differentiated instruction?

    Research shows that students learn best in classrooms that are highly organized.  In these classrooms students are highly engaged in inquiry and hands-on learning and are constantly creating their own understanding.  If the students are interested in what they are studying and “investigating”, they will actively participate and will learn.  Students should be allowed to pick what they want to learn and investigate that so that they are interested in their learning.  In addition students learn best when the curriculum merits student participation and the teacher rewards participation.  The goals and expectations of the teacher and students should be high, and most importantly, we have to realize that everyone is different and learns in different ways.  Differentiated Instruction meets all these criteria and has been proven to enhance students learning experience.

What are key principles of differentiated instruction?

Each lesson:

What are guidelines for using differentiated instruction?

    When using Differentiated Instruction teachers need to follow some simple guidelines.  First, the lessons should be designed so that every student in the class is included.  Whether the student is advanced, or struggling, activities need to be there so that that student is not left out.  Another key idea is that teachers can use strategies to aid them in teaching.  Below are a list of example strategies that can be incorporated in the differentiated classroom.  Theories such as Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and others have to be thought of in producing activities to engage all students.  Most importantly however is that all the children in the class are taught by the teacher and not one student is left out in the learning process.

What are various differentiated instruction strategies?

Here are a sample of strategies that can be implemented to aid in using differentiated instruction:

How can we differentiate instruction based on student readiness, student learning profile, and student interest?

    By using some of the strategies above, we can reach every child in the classroom.  We can provide activities such as the "tiered assignments" to make sure that every student in the classroom is met, whether they are advanced or not.  This allows us to differentiate based on student readiness.   By implementing projects and activities that allow inquiry and the element of student choice, the student's interest in the topic will positively change.  By allowing the student to choose what they want to investigate or learn, we can differentiate instruction based on student interest.  Since everyone learns different we need to make sure that as teachers we teach to all our students whether they are visual, auditory, or any other type of learners.  By teaching topics and covering them in a variety of different ways, including the arts and keeping a constant theme across subjects,  we differentiate instruction to a variety of student learning profiles to make sure that every student is reached. 

    Differentiated instruction is about using teaching strategies that connect with individual student's learning strategies. The ultimate goal is to provide a learning environment that will maximize the potential for student success.  By differentiating our instruction based on differences in students we can make sure that every student in the classroom is interested as well as learning every day.

Thoughts on Different Learners

Advanced learners?

            Advanced learners need help in developing their abilities.  They need to continually be challenged to keep learning.  Students however may be advanced in one area and still lack in others.  Most of all, advanced learners need to be challenged and pushed in the right direction so that they meet their potential and are not held back.  If they are not given the correct pathways and opportunities, advanced learners could become lazy or fall behind their potential.

Struggling learners?

            Teachers need to look too the positive with struggling learners.  They need to teach up  and scaffold to the higher level than the students are already at.  This gives the students something to strive for and eventually raises them to where they need to go.  Teachers need to help theses students chunk their information and provide an easier way of being clear and understanding about what the student needs to learn and know.  Teachers should continually praise the child to let them know that they are doing a good job and you believe in them.



Every student is different, and it is essential that we as teachers reach out to teach so that every student can understand and be interested in all the topics.


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