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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction

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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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Jen M's picture

I, too, noticed quite a few references to Power Teaching. I am struggling with DI in my middle school math classroom. I never feel as if I have enough time to get materials organized. Yet, I know that using DI is the one way I will be able to reach out to all the different learning styles and skills. Thanks for the resources of where to look!

Rebelgirl702's picture

My school isreally pushing for beefing inquiry up through depth of knowledge (DOK) in tiered instruction. The concept is similar to Bloom's Taxonomy, and it is being used on standardized test questions. Questions range from DOK 1 questions, which would include labeling, naming, defining. Next would be DOK 2 which include comparing and contrasting. DOK 3 would be like an application and synthesis sort of response. Finally, DOK 4 would require a long term research project, cross discipline work, publishing. Hope this is helpful.

carla's picture

I am a first year teacher so I am really enjoying hearing about all this differentiation. This is an area that I want to excell at but I find it a little difficult. I would love more advice and ideas!!

Amy's picture

I really enjoyed reading these posts. My middle school is pushing Differentiated Instruction. The problem is that not many of us know how to teach this way. I teach 6th grade Social Studies and my classes are ability grouped already. How do I differentiate when I already have a gifted class in my first block, a middle level second block, and then the last block are the ones that really struggle? We are expected to have DI days where administrators come around to observe us differentiating for the whole class block. I am not sure they are even looking for the right thing. Should we only be doing it on certain days? Should we be trying to incorporate this style of teaching in all of the classes, regardless of ability?

carla's picture

I have thouroughly enjoyed hearing all the comments on differentiated instruction. I am a first year teacher and this is an area I find difficult. I find myself heterogenous grouping instead of by learning styles using higher level students to peer tutor the others. I have found that sometimes the high level students don't want to help the others. They think of it as copying or cheating. I would like to try grouping by learning styles to see how that works. I could come up with activities and lessons based on their learning styles. That may take a lot of time though. Any ideas or suggestions?

Molly Whitmer's picture

Amy, You are lucky that your blocks are arranged the way they are. I think it make some aspects of teaching much easier, and in other ways harder. Some ways to incorporate DI in your classes could be using lessons or assessments built aroung multiple intelligences, interst centers (which are usually thought to be for younger kids but can be incorporated for older students), I-Searches, Web Quests, and RAFT papers. Those are what I can think of off the top of my head. I did not think of DI outside of flexibilty grouping until I took a professional development class about it. It was really helpful and gave me ideas to incorporate DI in my class immediately.

Amy's picture

Molly, thank you for your response. Can you tell me more what are I-Searches, Web Quests, and RAFT papers? This is all so new to me.

Kristie W.'s picture

I teach a resource reading class and find DI lessons to be very benefical. I break the students into groups according to their reading levels and then present them with low level, high interest reading topics. This allows the students to be successful within a group setting.

Natalie Steel's picture

Differentiation also makes my head spin. What I have noticed in an elementary setting for math, are teachers grouping and sending their students to leveled classrooms. For example, the advanced group went with Mr. Smith and the medium learning group went into Mrs. Jones class. The separation allowed the students to learn material at different speeds. The lower level learners also need to reach levels for state standards by the end of the year, but they may learn at a differnt speed. That is just one thing that I have seen that works. It may need adjustments to use in Middle Schools.

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