No two students learn the same way which makes personalizing instruction using strategies like differentiated instruction critical to student success. A recent Edutopia article, Student-Centered Planning, sums it up very well.
“Even the best lesson plans do not survive unchanged on first contact with students. Those who struggle will need modifications to help them learn, and advanced learners will need adjustments so that they’re stretched for their personal growth and don’t just regurgitate what they already know. Successful instruction plans for these differentiation needs—and highly effective instruction also involves students’ readiness, interests, and learning preferences.”
To really understand what differentiated instruction is, it is also important to understand what it isn’t. ASCD worked with Carol Ann Tomlinson, author of The Differentiated Classroom, 2nd Edition, to create an infographic of what differentiated instruction is and is not. Tomlinson clarifies that differentiation:
Differentiated instruction is necessary for all students. It is a student-focused way of thinking about teaching and learning. Below are five tips to support administrators and educators implement differentiated instruction.
Tip 1: Develop a Goal-Oriented Curriculum
To onboard students with classroom goals, it’s important to engage and empower them by making classroom objectives clear and attainable.
Tip 2: Strengthen Student-Teacher Relationships
To better understand the needs of each student, take the time to understand and respect how each student learns.
Tip 3: Facilitate Flexible Group Learning
As stated above, grouping solely by ability, grades, or test scores is not effective differentiated instruction. Small groups should be ever-changing and flexible.
Tip 4: Leverage the Power of Choice
Empower students to take ownership of their education by giving them a choice in the way they prefer to learn.
Tip 5: Implement Technology
Technology enables self-paced learning and the ability to track and manage student progress automatically. However, technology for the sake of technology is not helpful. Understand and maximize the power of each tool in the classroom.
Download our guide, Preparing Teachers to Differentiate Instruction for practical advice on how to achieve these tips and also receive 4 strategies for implementing differentiated instruction. Download our guide, Preparing Teachers to Differentiate Instruction for practical advice on how to achieve these tips and also receive 4 strategies for implementing differentiated instruction.