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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction

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137 Replies 6464 Views

I have been teaching for about 9 years, and every year I try to do a little bit more differentiation. This year I am ramping up my DI but it's certainly a lot of work, trying to analyze students' individual learning styles, multiple intelligences, etc. and then create different tiers of instruction and assignments. I am curious to hear from the group at Edutopia if anyone has suggestions and advice for creating a completely differentiated classroom, along with the management and preparation that goes with it.

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Alicia's picture

Rebecca - You talked about how some students finish work quickly and then you try to give them more work or when you give students work they may ask why it is different from someone elses. This year I created a packet for students. Each student had a different packet based on their skill. I tried to give them the same type of work but change the difficulty by creating my own activity or whiting out and then filling in the problems. I had a few students always asking to get their packet to work on it. A colleague of mine has also set up group activities structured like a web quest. She assigns students different tasks for the group project. The more challenging jobs are given to the more capable students in the group. This way everyone in the group is learning and everyone is working toward the same goal.

Alicia's picture

Kari - Wow, I had never heard of this before. What grade do you teach? Do your students like it?

Brenda's picture

Being able to differentiate seems to be so helpful but also so time consuming. I have about 30% of my second grade class with some type of learning disability typically. Many of my assignments do need to be adapted for these students. Sometimes, I must admit, the adaptation is just a shortened assignment. Each year I am trying to truly adapt. My struggle is when I change the end project, I have to spend so much time explaining what I want (since I try not to just have different worksheets). does anyone have any good resource books?

Stella Boscia's picture

You have to change up the groups depending on the lesson your teaching. Try not to keep your groups set in stone because they should be ever changing.Differentiating is not easy.

Mark Pennington's picture
Mark Pennington
ELA teacher and educational author

Both the "what and how" of differentiated instruction instruction are crucial to successful implementation of DI in the classroom; however, the "how" must be teacher-directed and make pedagogical sense. Check out Differentiated Instruction-the What and How
to read this important dialogue between DI authors Mark Pennington and Rick Wormeli.

Bruce's picture
Bruce
elementary tech teacher

Perhaps a return to the first DI environment. Let's return to the one room school house, grades 1 - 12 in one room, with the teacher running non-stop trying to attend to every student's needs individually. We have now gone full circle, AGAIN...
The only real objection to ability grouping is the parent whose child is not in the high group. Other than that, it is the only effective way to teach.

Mark Pennington's picture
Mark Pennington
ELA teacher and educational author

Nothing wrong with flexible ability grouping, per se. However, once teachers examine student diagnostic data (See http://penningtonpublishing.com/assessments.php for examples), it becomes quite apparent that most fixed ability groupings do not make much sense in light of the unique and individual challenges of each student. The "bluebirds" group may actually be quite heterogeneous. My point is that teachers need to adjust instruction (the how) to the individual needs(the what)of each student. The instructional methodology will certainly involve some ability grouping and collaborative learning for efficiency sake. Few of us want the one-room schoolhouse. The point is not to find an "effective way to teach," but rather to provide an "effective way to learn."

Bruce's picture
Bruce
elementary tech teacher

I don't expect to trade rhetoric with a published author, LOL, so this is only for the reality of it. Putting 4 G & T Students in a classroom with 4 special needs [read challenged or ??] and filling up the rest of the desks with your top of the bell curve doesn't serve the G & T students, the Special Needs students OR the regular "I'm ready to learn" group. Making the G&T students act as "peer tutors" is not fair to them, but that is what is done on a daily basis in the public schools.
As a constructivist, I am amazed at the quickness that seasoned educators discarded all their experience and now teach only to the "state standards" and to the "state test". Shame on all of us for letting government dictate every iota of content. [sorry, separate topic there Mark lol ]

Gina Hill's picture
Gina Hill
First Grade Teacher from Marietta, Georgia

Our school district has begun doing guided math groups using the same concept of guided reading. Introduce the skill whole group then call small groups based on readiness levels focusing on the skill. Other students are working on math tubs that reinforce the skills previously taught.

Charlotte Munrow's picture

I will be teaching 2 co-taught chemistry classes next year. I would be very grateful for any suggestions to help differentiate instruction. I have been told these classes will have low functioning studets with poor math skills, discipline problem student and slightly below average students.

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