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Differentiated Instruction Whittney Smith, Ed.D. Adelphi University.

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1 Differentiated Instruction Whittney Smith, Ed.D. Adelphi University


3 Daniel Willingham Why Don’t Students Like School? “The first thing to know is that everyone likes to learn.” “There is a sense of satisfaction, of fulfillment, in successful thinking” But it’s not fun to try to learn something that’s too hard. “Working on a problem with no sense that you’re making progress is not pleasurable… in fact, it’s frustrating.” “Working on a problem that’s too easy is no fun either. It’s boring.” “What people enjoy is working on problems that are the right level of difficulty.” “The problem must be easy enough to be solved yet difficult enough to take some mental effort.” He calls this the “sweet spot” of difficulty.


5 What is Differentiated Instruction? Differentiated Instruction (DI) addresses each student’s growth and individual success by meeting them where they are, and assisting in the learning process. Simply put… A teacher's reacting responsively to a learner's needs

6 Differentiated Instruction IS… Student Centered Tiered Balance of Whole- Class, Group and Individual Instruction Flexible and Responsive Heterogeneous PROACTIVE! IS NOT… One-Size-Fits-All Instruction Homogenous all the time Special Education or ESL “Tailoring the Same Suit of Clothes”

7 Content Determine the Ability Levels of Your Students –Survey Past Records, Look at their past educational history Align Tasks and Objectives to Learning Goals (Begin with the end in mind!) Survey Student Interests –Interest Inventories, Interview/Conference, Respond to Open- Ended Questionnaire with Questions What are Your Students’ Learning Styles? What are Your Student’s Preferences and Motivators? Instruction is based on Essential Questions / Understandings Brain-Based Research Know Your Students!

8 Content Project-Based Learning Group learning/discussions Case study, Lab activity, Debate Student-created videos Peer review of work “Menus”

9 Instructional Strategies Flexible Grouping is Consistently Used –Groupings are Not Fixed, and Should Be Dynamic in Process –Teach Whole Class Introductory Discussions, then Follow with Small Group (or) Pair Work. Direct Instruction Inquiry-Based Learning Cooperative Learning Classroom Management Benefits Students and Teachers –Organization & Routines

10 Instructional Strategies Who? –Struggling Learners Modeling / Direct Instruction Needed Review with Visuals Needed Will Complete Graphic Organizers –On-Grade Learners Can complete on-grade assignments Less review needed Can create their own Graphic Organizers –Advanced Learners Can work independently and interpret information on their own Can work with ideas and expand concepts

11 Instructional Strategies What? –Backward Design –Tiered Lessons –Choice

12 Instructional Strategies What? –Backward Design Goals & Objectives Assessment Formative Summative Portfolio Video Varied; Clear; With Passion

13 Instructional Strategies What? –Tiered Lessons “ Tiered instruction is like a wedding cake; all one flavor; same color icing but multi- layered.” - Carol Ann Tomlinson “Fair is not equal, fair is getting what you need (when you need it)”

14 Instructional Strategies What? –Choice

15 © Tomlinson,2001

16 Products (Assessments) Initial & Ongoing Assessment of Student Readiness & Growth are Essential (Formative and Summative) Authentic Assessment Students are Active & Responsible Explorers High Expectations with Varied Requirements for Student Responses Consider each Student’s Multiple Intelligences & Learning Styles Based on Outcomes

17 Classroom How the Environment is Organized? –Groupings –Collaborative / Quiet Spaces –Routines –Procedures –Student Ownership vs. Buy-in

18 Classroom Flexible Grouping Options

19 Learning Cycle & Decision Factors Used in Planning and Implementing Differentiated Instruction

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