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Differentiating Instruction: Beginning the Journey

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1 Differentiating Instruction: Beginning the Journey
"In the end, all learners need your energy, your heart and your mind. They have that in common because they are young humans. How they need you however, differs. Unless we understand and respond to those differences, we fail many learners." * * Tomlinson, C.A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms (2nd Ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

2 Differentiated Instruction Defined
“Differentiated instruction is a teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences. Rather than marching students through the curriculum lockstep, teachers should modify their instruction to meet students’ varying readiness levels, learning preferences, and interests. Therefore, the teacher proactively plans a variety of ways to ‘get at’ and express learning.” Carol Ann Tomlinson

3 Key Principles of a Differentiated Classroom
The teacher is clear about what matters in subject matter. The teacher understands, appreciates, and builds upon student differences. Assessment and instruction are inseparable. The teacher adjusts content, process, and product in response to student readiness, interests, and learning profile. All students participate in respectful work. Students and teachers are collaborators in learning. Goals of a differentiated classroom are maximum growth and individual success. Flexibility is the hallmark of a differentiated classroom. Source: Tomlinson, C. (2000). Differentiating Instruction for Academic Diversity. San Antonio, TX: ASCD

4 Differentiation of Instruction
Is a teacher’s response to learner’s needs guided by general principles of differentiation Respectful tasks Flexible grouping Continual assessment Teachers Can Differentiate Through: Content Process Product According to Students’ Readiness Interest Learning Profile

5 Interest – Readiness – Learning Profile
CONTENT PROCESS PRODUCT ASSESSMENT Pre - Post - Ongoing for Interest – Readiness – Learning Profile by Self – Peers - Teachers

6 Teacher and whole class begin exploration of a topic or concept
FLEXIBLE GROUPING Students are part of many different groups – and also work alone – based on the match of the task to student readiness, interest, or learning style. Teachers may create skills-based or interest-based groups that are heterogeneous or homogeneous in readiness level. Sometimes students select work groups, and sometimes teachers select them. Sometimes student group assignments are purposeful and sometimes random. 1 3 5 7 9 Teacher and whole class begin exploration of a topic or concept Students and teacher come together to share information and pose questions The whole class reviews key ideas and extends their study through sharing The whole class is introduced to a skill needed later to make a presentation The whole class listens to individual study plans and establishes baseline criteria for success Students engage in further study using varied materials based on readiness and learning style Students work on varied assigned tasks designed to help them make sense of key ideas at varied levels of complexity and varied pacing In small groups selected by students, they apply key principles to solve teacher-generated problems related to their study Students self-select interest areas through which they will apply and extend their understandings 2 4 6 8 A differentiated classroom is marked by a repeated rhythm of whole-class preparation, review, and sharing, followed by opportunity for individual or small-group exploration, sense-making, extension, and production

7 Flexible Grouping Students are part of many different groups (and also work alone) based on the match of the task to student readiness, interest, or learning style. Teachers may create skills – based or interest – based groups that are heterogeneous or homogeneous in readiness level. Sometimes students select work groups, and sometimes teachers select them. Sometimes student group assignments are purposeful and sometimes random.

8 A Differentiated Classroom in Balance
Teacher-Student Partnerships F L E X I B Solid Curriculum Shared Vision Shared goals Inviting Shared responsibility Focused Concept- based A Growth Orientation Product Oriented Sense Of Community Resource On-going assessment to determine need Feedback and grading Time Groups Respect For Group ZPD Target Approaches to teaching and learning Safe Respect for individual Affirming Shared Challenge Tomlinson-oo

9 How Does Research Support DI?
Differentiated Instruction is the result of a synthesis of a number of educational theories and practices. Brain research indicates that learning occurs when the learner experiences moderate challenge and relaxed alertness –readiness Psychological research reveals that when interest is tapped, learners are more likely to find learning rewarding and become more autonomous as a learner. when the learner experiences neither boredom or anxiety and when the learner is neither over- nor underchallenged.

10 Checklist for Brain Based Classrooms
Brain organization and Building safe environments: Do students feel safe to risk and experiment with ideas? Do students feel included in the class and supported by others? Are tasks challenging enough without “undo distress?” Is there an emotional “hook” for the learners? Are there novel, unique and engaging activities to capture and sustain attention?

11 Checklist for Brain Based Classrooms
Recognizing and honoring diversity: Does the learning experience appeal to the learners’ varied multiple intelligences and learning styles? May the students work collaboratively and independently? May they “show what they know” in a variety of ways? Does the cultural background of the learners influence instruction?

12 Checklist for Brain Based Classrooms
Assessment: Is there enough time to explore, understand and transfer the learning to long term memory (grow dendrites)? Is there time to accomplish mastery? So they have opportunities for ongoing, “just in time” feedback? Do they have time to revisit ideas and concepts to connect or extend them? Is metacognitive time built into the learning process? Do students use logs and journals for reflection and goal setting?

13 Checklist for Brain Based Classrooms
Instructional Strategies: Are the expectations clearly stated and understood by the learner? Will the learning be relevant and useful to the learner? Does the learning build on past experience or create a new experience? Does the learning relate to their real world? Is it developmentally appropriate and hands on? Are the strategies varied to engage and sustain attention? Are there opportunities for projects, creativity, problems and challenges?

14 Checklist for Brain Based Classrooms
New Models: Do students work alone, in pairs and in small groups? Do students work in learning centers based on interest, need or choice? Are some activities tiered to provide appropriate levels of challenge? Is compacting used to provide enrichment and challenge? Is integrated curriculum, problem based and service learning considered? Are contracts negotiated to provide appropriate learning activities for students?

15 Best Practices for Standards-based Instruction
Student Voice and Involvement Balanced with teacher-chosen and teacher-directed activities: Students often select inquiry topics, books, writing topics, etc. Students maintain their own records, set goals, and self-assess Some themes / inquiries are built from students’ own questions Students assume responsibility and take roles in decision making

16 Best Practices for Standards-based Instruction
Activities and Assignments From: Teacher presentation Whole-class instruction Uniform curriculum Short-term lessons Memorization and recall Short responses, fill-in-the-blank Same assignments To: Students experiencing concepts Centers, groups, variety Topics by students’ needs or choice Extended activities Application and problem solving Complex responses, evaluations and writing Multiple intelligences, cognitive styles

17 Best Practices for Standards-based Instruction
Language and Communication From: Forced constant silence Short responses Teacher talk Focus on facts To: Noise, conversation alternates with quiet Elaborated discussions Student-teacher, student-student Skills, concepts, synthesis, evaluation

18 Best Practices for Standards-based Instruction
Student Work and Assessment From: Products for teacher / grading No student work displayed Identical, imitative products Feedback = scores or grades Seen / scored only by teacher Teacher grade book Standards set during grading To: Products for real events / audience High quality / all students Varied and original products Substantive, varied, formative feedback Public displays and performances Student-maintained portfolios, assessments Standards co-developed with students

19 Best Practices for Standards-based Instruction
Teacher Attitude and Initiative Toward Self: From Helpless victim To Risk taker, experimenter, creative agent From Solitary adult To Member of team within school and network beyond school From Staff development recipient To Directing own professional growth From Role of expert or presenter To Coach, mentor, model and guide

20 to Differentiate Content
Ways to Differentiate Content Reading Partners / Reading Buddies Read/Summarize Read/Question/Answer Visual Organizer/Summarizer Parallel Reading with Teacher Prompt Choral Reading/Antiphonal Reading Flip Books Split Journals (Double Entry – Triple Entry) Books on Tape Highlights on Tape Digests/ “Cliff Notes” Notetaking Organizers Varied Texts Varied Supplementary Materials Highlighted Texts Think-Pair-Share/Preview-Midview-Postview Tomlinson – ‘00

WAYS TO DIFFERENTIATE PROCESS Fun & Games RAFTs Cubing, Think Dots Choices (Intelligences) Centers Tiered lessons Contracts

The following findings related to instructional strategies are supported by the existing research: Techniques and instructional strategies have nearly as much influence on student learning as student aptitude. Lecturing, a common teaching strategy, is an effort to quickly cover the material: however, it often overloads and over-whelms students with data, making it likely that they will confuse the facts presented Hands-on learning, especially in science, has a positive effect on student achievement. Teachers who use hands-on learning strategies have students who out-perform their peers on the National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP) in the areas of science and mathematics. Despite the research supporting hands-on activity, it is a fairly uncommon instructional approach. Students have higher achievement rates when the focus of instruction is on meaningful conceptualization, especially when it emphasizes their own knowledge of the world.

23 to Differentiate Product
Ways to Differentiate Product Choices based on readiness, interest, and learning profile Clear expectations Timelines Agreements Product Guides Rubrics Evaluation

24 Begin Slowly – Just Begin!
Low-Prep Differentiation Choices of books Homework options Use of reading buddies Varied journal Prompts Orbitals Varied pacing with anchor options Student-teaching goal setting Work alone / together Whole-to-part and part-to-whole explorations Flexible seating Varied computer programs Design-A-Day Varied Supplementary materials Options for varied modes of expression Varying scaffolding on same organizer Let’s Make a Deal projects Computer mentors Think-Pair-Share by readiness, interest, learning profile Use of collaboration, independence, and cooperation Open-ended activities Mini-workshops to reteach or extend skills Jigsaw Negotiated Criteria Explorations by interests Games to practice mastery of information Multiple levels of questions High-Prep Differentiation Tiered activities and labs Tiered products Independent studies Multiple texts Alternative assessments Learning contracts 4-MAT Multiple-intelligence options Compacting Spelling by readiness Entry Points Varying organizers Lectures coupled with graphic organizers Community mentorships Interest groups Tiered centers Interest centers Personal agendas Literature Circles Stations Complex Instruction Group Investigation Tape-recorded materials Teams, Games, and Tournaments Choice Boards Think-Tac-Toe Simulations Problem-Based Learning Graduated Rubrics Flexible reading formats Student-centered writing formats

To Differentiate Instruction By Readiness To Differentiate Instruction By Interest To Differentiate Instruction by Learning Profile equalizer adjustments (complexity, open-endedness, etc. add or remove scaffolding vary difficulty level of text & supplementary materials adjust task familiarity vary direct instruction by small group adjust proximity of ideas to student experience encourage application of broad concepts & principles to student interest areas give choice of mode of expressing learning use interest-based mentoring of adults or more expert-like peers give choice of tasks and products (including student designed options) give broad access to varied materials & technologies create an environment with flexible learning spaces and options allow working alone or working with peers use part-to-whole and whole-to-part approaches Vary teacher mode of presentation (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, concrete, abstract) adjust for gender, culture, language differences. useful instructional strategies: - tiered activities Tiered products compacting learning contracts tiered tasks/alternative forms of assessment interest centers interest groups enrichment clusters group investigation choice boards MI options internet mentors multi-ability cooperative tasks Triarchic options 4-MAT CA Tomlinson, UVa ‘97

26 Thinking About the Role of Instructional Strategies in Differentiation
Strategy for Differentiation Primarily Used to Differentiate Positives Cautions Tiered Assignments Readiness Meat & Potatoes differentiation Must use as only part of a flexible grouping pattern Tiered Products Readiness, Interest, Learning Profile Can be passion-producing Must provide coaching for quality Learning Contracts Encourage student autonomy Be sure to blend skill and content Drill-Focused Cooperative Tasks Low End Readiness Deals with coverage and mastery issues May aggravate have/have not status Thought/Production Focused Cooperative Tasks Interest, Learning Profile Involves all students with high level tasks Be sure tasks call for varied intellectual skills Alternative Assessments Readiness, Learning Profile More of a real-world way of measuring student learning Be sure assessment focus on essential understandings and skills Graduated Rubrics Clear coaching for quality and success Take care to stress ideas and process more than mechanics Choice Boards Readiness, Interest Balances teacher choice and student choice Teacher choice should target readiness Learning Centers Can target varied skills levels in a class Don’t send all students to all centers

27 Strategy for Differentiation
Thinking About the Role of Instructional Strategies in Differentiation, cont’d Strategy for Differentiation Primarily Used to Differentiate Positives Cautions Interest Centers Interest Can link classroom topics to areas of student talent and interest Be sure centers provide depth or breadth (vs cute) Enrichment clusters Interest, Learning profiles Stresses student choice and students as producers of useful products Lose their punch without teachers skilled in the cluster domain Compacting High End Readiness Can reduce unnecessary redundancy for advanced or eager learners Loses its punch unless Column 3 is rich and challenging Peer Tutoring Low End Readiness Gives struggling learners additional explanation opportunities Can over-use high end learner in teacher role and may short change struggling learner if tutor is weak Multi Ability Options (MI, Triarchic Theory) Interest, Learning Profile Encourages teachers to be flexible in planning routes to learning Can easily become just a learning style vs. intelligence approach 4-MAT Learning Profile Helps teachers be more conscious of student learning style/mode Can become formula-like – does not address readiness Independent Study Encourages student autonomy in planning and problem-solving Students need an amount of independence suited to their readiness for it Small Group Direct Instruction Readiness Cuts down size of class and increases student participation Students not being taught must be well anchored

28 LOOK-FORS in the Classroom
Learning experiences are based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile. Assessment of student needs is ongoing, and tasks are adjusted based on assessment data. All students participate in respectful work. The teacher is primarily a coordinator of time, space, and activities rather than primarily a provider of group information. Students work in a variety of groups configurations. Flexible grouping is evident. Time use is flexible in response to student needs. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to help target instruction to student needs. Clearly established criteria are used to help support student success. Student strengths are emphasized.

29 Whatever it Takes!

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