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Differentiation


Look inside almost any classroom today and you’ll see a mirror of our country. You’ll find students from multiple cultures, some of whom are trying to bridge the languages and behaviors of two worlds. Students with very advanced learning skills sit next to students who struggle mightily with one or more school subjects. Children with vast reservoirs of background experience share space with peers whose world is circumscribed by the few blocks of their neighborhood. Carol Ann Tomlinson and Susan Demirsky Allan


 


 


 


It is almost impossible to force all of these diverse learners into one narrowly defined box where everyone is expected to learn the same thing, in the same way, at the same time. Differentiation provides another option, one that is more in line with the reality of our classrooms, and current research into multiple intelligences, learning preferences and the impact that language, culture and gender may have on learning. With differentiation teachers meet their students where they are and provide learning experiences that will help move them forward in their learning. 


What?


In a nutshell, differentiation is a way of thinking about how people learn best so that we can adapt our approaches to reach and teach all of our students. It is a recognition that students differ in many ways, including readiness, interests, prior experiences and learning preferences. Differentiated instruction allows us to provide different pathways for students to reach the same learning goals.


Who?


All of our students. Differentiation is the way to meet kids where they are and provide appropriate challenges and support in order to maximize learning.


When?


We do not have to differentiate every lesson of every day!
Differentiation is a way of thinking, a belief system that can gradually become an integral part of teaching. Planning, organization and practice shift when we allow for the variety and fexibility that help us reach all of our students.

 
 


How?


Sometimes differentiation will take place in small ways, such as building in time for students to pair up and talk about what they are learning. Other times whole projects will be organized to include opportunities for differentiation.


Why?


Given the great diversity of students in our classrooms, along with what we now know about multiple intelligences, different learning preferences and the impact that language, culture, and gender may have on learning, a one-size-fts-all model cannot possibly work.