Week One ~ EQ:What is differentiated instruction?
My personal style of learning is why Differentiated Instructed (DI) was developed. I am not able to just read about how something works, I need to see a real life example of how this work. Unfortunately, I did not learn this about myself until my college years.
The idea of differentiating instruction to accommodate the different ways that students learn involves a hefty dose of common sense, as well as sturdy support in the theory and research of education (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). It is an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for student differences in classrooms (Tomlinson, year).
My seven year old son, Jackson, is now showing signs of dyslexia that have I passed on to him. I could see it early on, the number and letter reversals. He had some of the exact same displays as his two sisters before him. I have worked closely with his school staff to create and IEP (individual educational plan) that will help him with his studies. When I look at the key principles on the Scholastic website, I do see the same steps that we took to document his disability.
- Ongoing, formative assessment: Teachers continually assess to identify students’ strengths and areas of need so they can meet students where they are and help them move forward.
- Recognition of diverse learners: The students we teach have diverse levels of expertise and experience with reading, writing, thinking, problem solving, and speaking. Ongoing assessments enable teachers to develop differentiated lessons that meet every students’ needs.
- Group Work: Students collaborate in pairs and small groups whose membership changes as needed. Learning in groups enables students to engage in meaningful discussions and to observe and learn from one another.
- Problem Solving: The focus in classrooms that differentiate instruction is on issues and concepts rather than “the book” or the chapter. This encourages all students to explore big ideas and expand their understanding of key concepts.
- Choice: Teachers offer students choice in their reading and writing experiences and in the tasks and projects they complete. By negotiating with students, teachers can create motivating assignments that meet students’ diverse needs and varied interests.
As you can see from the chart above DI is able to to increase positive learning outcomes, inspire learning, increase engagement, increase self-awareness and help students learn more efficiently with a deeper understanding of their studies. All of which I have seen in my own children’s school progress.
I am confident that we will be able to help Jackson master reading and writing. I am so happy we caught this early on his studies. During the testing we learned that Jackson IQ level was just below genius which must add to his frustration with not being able master his peer reading level. We will continue to monitor his progress through assessments as Scholastic has mentioned, and decrease his help as he starts to level out in his grade level. For my daughters, this happened in the third grade. I am so thankful that we now have approaches like Differential Instruction to help students like my son.
Tomlinson, Carol Ed. D. (N.D). Fulfilling the Promise of Differentiation. Retrieved on Jan 21, 2017 from: http://www.caroltomlinson.com/
Robb, Laura. (N.D). What is Differentiated Instruction? Retrieved on Jan 21, 2017 from: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/what-differentiated-instruction/
Smith, G. E., & Throne, S. (2009). Differentiating Instruction with Technology in Middle School Classrooms. Eugene, Or: International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE].
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability Classrooms. Alexandria, Va: Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development.