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Dos and Don’ts of Differentiation in the Classroom 2023

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Differentiation in the Classroom. Can we teach a diverse group of students with a range of needs at the same time? Maybe we can all pat our heads and chew gum at the same time.

Yes, to answer briefly. By using differentiated teaching, teachers help a variety of pupils meet a topic criterion. Having workable techniques at the ready makes a significant difference because this extremely intricate activity might become unmanageable too quickly. In this manner, students are able to define success and teachers may hold them to specific standards without lowering the bar or requiring them to review material from a previous grade.

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What Makes Instruction Method Different?

Differentiation refers to modifying instruction to accommodate student requirements. This approach to instruction is effective because it uses ongoing evaluation and flexible grouping, regardless of whether teachers differentiate material, process, products, or the learning environment.

Depending on a student’s readiness, interest, or learning profile, teachers can differentiate at least four aspects of the classroom:

What the pupil must learn or how they will obtain the material is referred to as the content;

  • Process: the actions that a student takes to comprehend or understand the material;
  • Products: final projects that require students to put what they have learned in a lesson into practice and extend it;

The learning environment is the look and feel of the classroom.

Dos and Don’ts of Differentiation in the Classroom

  • Do offer a lot of instruction that is focused on choice.
  • Kids enjoy making decisions about how they will work just as much as the rest of us do. Wherever possible, offering specific options is typically greeted with gratitude and increased involvement.
  • Suppose the class is structured so that everyone submits outlines by one date and rough drafts a few days later for a research assignment that has a set due date. Some people can find it difficult to adhere to the deadlines.
  • Consider providing some options that might enable them to satisfy the defined criteria rather than decreasing the expectation by altering the assignment (i.e., asking them to perform below the stated standard).
  • For instance, students who finish ahead of schedule could set up a peer support station to offer help where they can.
  • Alternatively, some students in the class could work on their assignments independently while the teacher ran small-group instruction for those who were falling behind.
  • Additionally, while if deadlines can’t always be flexible, working with students to assess when they can reasonably accomplish something is a wonderful option to offer, provided they ask for additional assistance when necessary and adhere to any established guidelines or extensions.

  • The curriculum and learning objectives shouldn’t be changed.
  • Differentiated instruction focuses on how we taught rather than what we instruct. The idea of changing the curriculum should not even be considered because it is neither practical nor wise.
  • When teachers alter learning objectives, the class runs the danger of achieving standards or skills that are not at the proper level of proficiency. Stop there.
  • Don’t forget to give grade-level, standards-aligned education.
  • People frequently conflate “standards” and “standardization” when they hear the phrase “standards.” Although the two ideas overlap occasionally, they are not the same thing.
  • A standardized curriculum or assessment tries to have students work on the same item (typically at the same time) with very strict pacing in a number of different locations.
  • Standards, however, emphasize particular abilities in every subject area and at every age.
  • Tohelp teachers understand how a task relates to what students need to know and be able to perform, the majority of curricular materials, for instance, include standards of emphasis next to a variety of activities. Every year, requirements get more and more complicated in each speciality.
  • Moving backwards with what children should know at a specific time in their education so serves them a disservice.
  • For teachers who want to know what students need from lessons the first time around (otherwise known as good first instruction), or so that reteaching is less ubiquitous as a widely accepted technique, developing a grasp of the standards and how they work is crucial.
  • No remedial teaching should be given.
  • Moving pupils back a grade level in subject is not the solution when they are having trouble keeping up.
  • The distinction between supports and changes is outlined in this useful essay from UnboundEd, and it explains how to assist students in meeting expectations without lowering those for their success.
  • Teachers who alter instruction to move students who lack legal accommodations farther away from the defined learning targets are maintaining an unfair cycle of inequality.
  • Instead, it is crucial to comprehend how to promote learning in differentiated classrooms by using the appropriate tools that scaffold instruction to preserve what kids need to know to move forward.
  • Do check that the big picture is unbroken.
  • Even though each day may appear to be a collection of details, all instruction should be driven by a small number of guiding principles. What are the overarching, non-negotiable aims of learning? The forest is more significant than the trees in the initial stages of planning for differentiated instruction, regardless of the age group or subject matter teachers are working with.
  • It is much simpler to figure out the specifics of how teaching and learning are carried out if the larger rocks are already in place and we are completely aware of where all kids should be at particular designated moments in the school year. Without that broad view, it is far too simple to drift off track and unintentionally steer pupils away from pertinent goals and ambitions.
  • Avoid kicking your heels in.
  • The difficulties that arise can be severe if anyone becomes overly devoted to doing something a certain manner simply because we like it rather than because kids gain from it.
  • The fact that not everyone prefers the same strategy is a good thing. When and when possible, increasing student engagement by letting them complete tasks or assignments in ways they love will produce results that show improvements in student performance.

It’s one thing if a single detail is tailored for a purpose that directly relates to learning objectives. But if we can occasionally be flexible, that will help us to keep our attention on the goals that really matter.

Dos and Don'ts of Differentiation in the Classroom

Conclusion

The road to differentiated education is not an easy one, but with proper planning, it is far from impassable. When creating lesson plans, teachers should consider ways to give students more opportunities to express their learning needs. This is a welcome way to uphold high standards and expectations while taking the time to truly center instruction around the right content.

FAQs on Dos and Don’ts of Differentiation in the Classroom

What is the ideal starting point for differentiation?

Knowing the academic strengths, interests, and viewpoints of the students is the first step in effective differentiation. Lessons and scaffolds are built with the aid of formative evaluations, thinking styles inventories, and surveys in order to strategically address needs.

What is a good illustration of educational differentiation?

Examples of how to distinguish the procedure

Give students who prefer reading and writing textbooks. Give auditory students access to audiobooks. Give kinesthetic students the option of finishing an interactive online project.

What does differentiation in the classroom mean?

Differentiation refers to modifying instruction to accommodate student requirements. This approach to instruction is effective because it uses ongoing evaluation and flexible grouping, regardless of whether teachers differentiate material, process, products, or the learning environment.

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