What is Differentiated Instruction?
According to Scholastic, Differentiated Instruction is a “way of teaching; it’s not a program or package of worksheets. This approach requires teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning (“What Is Differentiated Instruction? | Scholastic.com,” n.d.). As an educator and tutor, my definition of what Differentiated Instruction is expands past this to an applicable stance that most closely identifies with the old adage that many adults are familiar with. Simply put, no “one size fits all” when it comes to learning and development. Every student learns differently. Although there are general standards of learning and development by which educators should approach education, the idea that every student fits into a proverbial “box” is a common thread across United States public schools that can greatly hinder a students’ abilities to make formidable gains. Why is it important?
Differentiated learning affords for students of all learning styles to be afforded the opportunity to thrive within the classroom environment. “By using differentiated strategies and activities, educators are implementing this philosophy daily in classrooms across the grade levels and content areas”. (Gregory & Chapman, 2007, pg.2). The ability to look past different learning styles and adopt the philosophy that “One size does not fit all”, is an approach to education that provides for broader impact as an educator. Students benefit greatly when they are taught to their individual strengths and weaknesses (READ: “Tips From an Irvine English Tutor: 5 Tips to Help You Be a Great Writer”).
How does it work?
This increasingly popular approach to educating students is one that must be deliberately applied. Continually assessing students, both formally and informally, are key to ensuring that there is efficiency within instruction. Keeping detailed records of student gains in order to approach instruction with their individualized learning needs in mind is also a must. Additionally, provide students with relevant, developmental level appropriate learning materials. An example of this is with read aloud books (READ: “4 Last Minute Things to do Before Going Back to School”). These typically come in sets, by learning levels. Grouping students in direct accordance to their individual placement of reading comprehension affords for peer instruction with slightly stronger readers. Having a thorough knowledge of students’ individual abilities is dire for long term learning success so next time curriculum planning is on the agenda, carefully consider Differentiated Instruction as a means of providing students with a comprehensive learning experience. There is nothing to lose and tons to gain!
© 2015 Tamarah A. Matrisch All Rights Reserved
Gregory, G. & Chapman, C. (2007). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn’t fit all. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press
What Is Differentiated Instruction? | Scholastic.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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