Preparing Teachers for Differentiated Instruction Educational Leadership, Sept. 2000 | Volume 58 | Number 1 - John H. Holloway According to Carol Ann Tomlinson (1999), we can recognize differentiated instruction by a variety of classroom characteristics: Begin where the students are. Engage students in instruction through different learning modalities. A student competes more against himself or herself than others. Provide specific ways for each individual to learn. Use classroom time flexibly. As diagnosticians, prescribe the best possible instruction for each student.
Differentiated Instruction – an Elementary School Example Stepping into Mary Hooper's multi-age class of 1st and 2nd graders in Grosse Pointe, Mich., you are struck by the wide range of activities that engross students as they work at a variety of learning centers. Her students are working all around the room -- some work alone, some with a partner they've chosen, some in small groups that randomly formed -- reading a book they've selected from the reference cart, filled with books on plants and insects written for different reading levels. They learn about garden insects of their choice and write and illustrate an adventure story about an insect hero. They also sort and position pictures of various seeds based on how they travel, calculate how much it will cost to buy the seeds and materials to plant a garden of their own design, and examine the parts of different insects and plants under a microscope, sketching and writing a description of them.
Differentiated Instruction A High School Example 90-minute high school precalculus class in Fort Defiance, Va., they immediately go over to shelves full of colorful plastic containers and select activity folders they feel they need to work on to enhance their understandings and skills. They can select from folders that allow them to review homework problems or correct their own quiz from the previous day, packets of file cards with problems at varied levels of difficulty that help them prepare for the upcoming SAT test, a skill review packet with math puzzles directly related to the current unit, a graphing calculator sheet with problems, and a miniproject folder where they create relevant puzzles and problems to be used in the skill review packet. These 11th and 12th grade students work intently on their folder activities for about 15 minutes. During this time, Cory works individually with students -- assisting them with problems, monitoring their progress, and challenging them with questions that make them stretch.
Assessment in a Differentiated Classroom drives instruction. occurs consistently. readiness, interest and learning profile. part of “teaching for success”. students chart and contribute to their own growth. MAY be differentiated. more useful than grades. focused on personal growth
Benefits of Differentiated Instruction Teachers and students show acceptance and respect. Assessment is an ongoing diagnostic activity. All students participate in respectful work. The teacher is primarily a coordinator. Students and teachers collaborate. Students work in a variety of group configurations.
Time is used flexibly. Students often have choices. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies. Students are assessed in multiple ways. Video clip: –Nicole Freeman, 3rd grade teacher, from an interview with Leslie J. Kiernan, 1996.
Tiered Activities Provide appropriate degrees of challenge for students Designing a Tiered Activity 1. Identify the essential understanding(s). 2. Be mindful of students’ current capabilities. 3. Create an activity. 4. Determine the levels of complexity and skill. 5. Provide alternate versions of the activity. 6. Match a version to each student.
Technology Integration Resources InTel Teaching tools and resources - Free online tools and resources for educators that support collaborative student- centered learning.InTel Teaching tools and resources Visual Ranking Tool Seeing Reason Tool Showing Evidence Tool 4Teachers.org – online tools and resources; locate and create ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars.4Teachers.org Educational software applications – Scholastic Keys, TimeLiner, KidPix, KidWorks, InSpiration, KidSpiration, Graph Club, GraphMaster, etc. Web 2.0 tools - blogs, wikis, Googledocs, del.icio.us, etc. Podcasts – audio, enhanced, or video recordings which enrich or enhance lesson content. Blackboard – an online collaboration tool. PDNPJ and LTNPJ – personal/professional development programs for educators and eighth grade students.
Group Dynamics As a group, create a tiered activity for a unit of study. - Create at least two other versions of this activity. Share your group-created tiered activities with the class.
Tips from Teachers Prepare students. Balance your approach. Set clear behavioral expectations. Use flexible grouping. Provide anchoring activities. Differentiate tests and homework. Assess as you go and keep good records. Communicate with parents. Set reasonable goals for yourself.