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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction

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137 Replies 6411 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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Rebecca's picture

I've read about differentiated activities many times.... having work for students to do, leveled activitied, next steps for fast finishers, and such, but my question is does anyone ever make this work effectively? How would one keep students working and motivated if they do not want to do the work, don't care about school, or only want to do the bare minimum. My problem with differentiation isn't getting the work/activities for the students, it's getting the students to not compare their work to someone elses and having that motivation to work on the next step if they understood well or finished quickly.

Jane Altemen's picture

[quote]Differentiated Instruction is simply a reaction to the failure of heterogenous grouping.[/quote]

I find that even in a group of streamed students, there's such a variety of approaches to all aspects of learning: working memory, how they process input, how they best express their understanding...

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

Not sure if we can blame tracked or non-tracked instruction and/or if DI is the one answer. Differentiated Instruction is certainly not an easily-identified, monolithic movement. Indeed, the movement is multi-faceted. There is no DI uniform. Check out 23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction.

Bruce's picture
Bruce
elementary tech teacher

Differentiated Instruction is simply a reaction to the failure of heterogenous grouping.

After I retire, I am going to hit the lecture circuit-
My keynote speach will be the new instructional rage:
"Differentiated Coddling"
Look for it in ~ 2 years.

Bruce's picture
Bruce
elementary tech teacher

After I retire, I am going to hit the lecture circuit-

My keynote speech will be the new rage:

"Differentiated Coddling"

Look for it in ~ 2 years.

Whitney Berke's picture

I really enjoyed reading the blog and the comments. Differentiated Instruction was just coming to the surface when I was leaving to go on leave for my family. I am very excited to learn more about this philosophy and to read how teachers really feel and to get a sense of how it is working in the classroom and not just in a book.

The question of ability grouping is a complex one. My children attend a school where they are ability grouping. From a parent/teahcer it seems to be working nicely. My daughter made huge gains in second grade because she was working and reading in the correct group. I feel it takes the teachers to be on top of their ability to assess where the students are and where they need to be in order for the grouping to work. A teacher who cannot or is not good at "seeing" where a student is in their own level will have a hard year.

Bruce's picture
Bruce
elementary tech teacher

My quote - remains the same and doesn't change...

"Differentiated Instruction is simply a reaction to the failure of heterogeneous grouping."

Consider the poor Gifted student, whose new role is to sit by and "peer tutor" the special needs student. What a travesty! And all in the name of "better education". The question is for who ?

Alicia's picture

I really enjoyed reading all of the posts. As a first year teacher, in kindergarten, I am constantly trying to figure out what works best when trying to differentiate. One topic I find interesting is grouping students. I group my students differently each week at centers. Some weeks the high students are together and the low students are together and other weeks I will mix my groups. This allows students to work together and help each other learn.

One way I was able to meet different learning styles was on the monthly homework calendar I sent home. I would try to use different learning styles on it to meet the needs of all my students. My students really enjoyed this. Does anyone have suggestions for differentiation in kindergarten or first grade?

Alicia's picture

Marci - I am a first year kindergarten teacher. I had five centers each week and our center time lasted 20 min. The students would visit only one center a day. I would work with students at one center each week. I also had helpers from an older grade that would come in and help students when needed. I am like you and constantly looking for ways to make it work more effectively. What types of literacy stations do you use? How many groups to do you have? How do you rotate stations? Do you set up stations weekly or a few days a week?

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