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Differentiated Instruction

Kim

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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Third Grade teacher at an International School in South Korea

differentiation

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Thanks for all of this useful information. It is nice to know I am not the only one struggling with this issue! I really like the idea of using Bloom's Taxonomy as a guide to differentiation. It seems like such an obvious tool, but I had not thought of it before. I love color coding, and I think that color coding questions for the different levels would help me stay organized.

I also want to reiterate the use of choice within the classroom. I believe that choices allow students to take responsibility for their learning. I think that choices also help the students become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. One thing I do in my classroom is centers. I just started doing centers in third grade this year. I had originally thought that centers were meant for younger grades, but they have turned out to be a huge help when it comes to differentiating. Centers time has given me time to work one on one or in small groups with students who need work on a specific skill. I have also used centers to reteach skills after we have moved on as a full class. My center time offers choices also, for example students on the computer center get to pick what activities they want to do to. challenge themselves. It is very important to monitor student choices closely to make sure they are making appropriate level decisions.

elementary tech teacher

About this Differentiated Instruction.....

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Differentiated instruction is simply a reaction to the failure of heterogenious grouping.
Who came up with the idea of putting the G&T students with the Special Education students and thinking it could actually work? Lets get real and do some ability grouping and teach the kids.

English high school teacher

Differentiated instruction

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Differentiated instruction can be useful if it is done with much thought and planning. G &T students and Special Education students can actually learn quite a bit from each other. Knowing how to group students, however, is the key. If you can find students with similar interests and existing friendships, these groups can be powerful. Also, just because the students have different learning abilities doesn't make them less valuable to the group. For example, a dyslexic student might excel in leadership qualities whereas a G & T student might be an introvert. Both can help each other by working together. Again the teacher must know the students and group them for success.

elementary tech teacher

Differentiated Instruction

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The group is everything - the individual means nothing. ??

We often find the G & T student being held to a role of "peer tutor" when instruction should be directed by the teacher not the student.

When you have a student with the functioning level of 1st grade "mainstreamed" into a 5th grade classroom because of age, not only does the mainstreamed student suffer but the entire class is held back. All in the name of "fairness", "differentiation".

After 26 years teaching.... this new idea does not make sense. Oh, it sounds good, it fits the doctorial thesis, but for being educationally sound - nope. It doesn't work.

It's the recreation of the one room school house. Why would anyone do that ?

Elementary School Teacher, currently a Stay-At-Home-Mom working on her MSED

Hi Paula, I feel the EXACT

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Hi Paula, I feel the EXACT same way! Why am I planning, at a minimum, 3 variations of lessons? If Elementary schools had the flexibility that the upper grades had, I think it would be easier to meet the needs of all of our learners. The students could easily have a homeroom, switch classes and go to a different subject based class that is based on their ability level. Perhaps the school could offer interest based classes as well that will speak to the various learning intelligences of our students? I wonder if there has been any studies or research completed on ability-based learning communities? I would be very interested to know if schools have done this before and how they fared.

elementary tech teacher

Forward Thinking - Not Rewarded Now....

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Christina,
Elementary students grouped according to ability! You are way too forward thinking for this era. 20 years ago we had high Math and high Reading classes in the 4th and 5th grade. Gone by the wayside now - heterogenious grouping with the Special Education students mainstreamed in as well.
Good Luck with your forward thinking !

ELA teacher and educational author

It's good to place this

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It's good to place this discussion in its philosophical perspective as well as its historical perspective. Differentiated instruction, as it is popularly applied today, grew out of constructivism. Constructivism is an educational philosophy predicated on the belief that learning occurs best when students construct their own “rules,” “mental models,” and “meaning-making” to integrate new experiences into their existing schemata and prior knowledge. As applied to differentiated instruction, constructivists including the likes of Carol Ann Tomlinson, Amy Benjamin, and Rick Wormeli, believe that students should be provided multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas and that teachers must adapt the curriculum or mode of instruction to the student.

However, many DI teachers fundamentally disagree with constructivism and believe that trained and informed teaching professionals make the best choices regarding what and how their students need to learn. I'm in this camp and contrary to popular belief, differentiated instruction has not been completely kidnapped by constructivists. More here: 23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction

I agree with your suggestion that ability groups are essential. I would add these caveats: Groups must be flexible, provide easy in-an-out transitions, and vary according to subject. Fundamentally, groups need to be formed and re-formed according to effective diagnostic and formative assessment.

elementary tech teacher

Constructivism and the DI

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http://www.cattanach.org/mindstorms_microworlds/ConstructivismDefinition...

As a Constructivist I would never consider kidnapping Differentiated Instruction. Especially in its present form.

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