Differentiated instruction aims to teach students in a way that allows everyone, regardless of learning ability, to be able to grasp material and understand it. Differentiated learning, as it is also referred to sometimes, should help students of all learning levels and capabilities understand material in different ways that are customized to their specific educational needs. Differentiated instruction strategies should focus on how students learn and in turn allow teachers to see what works best to maximize potential for each type of learner. Each student is different, and one may be more receptive if material is presented in a certain way than another. These are the basics of differentiated instruction.
One approach taken in differentiated instruction strategies involves a focus on the learning environment and managing instructional time in a way that meets standards while also motivating students. Students should be challenged by school work and think of classroom lessons as meaningful experiences. It is the teacherís responsibility to ensure that every childís diverse needs are being met. It is important for educators to possess the resources and strategies necessary to be able to meet these needs.
Differentiated learning can be effective if carried out properly. To be successful, instructors should be sure to develop a lesson plan or curriculum that clearly letís them determine the readiness of their students. Without measuring this, the educator will not be able to create relevant learning activities. Then it is necessary to assess the progress afterwards to establish which differentiated instruction strategies are effective and which are not. This is an effective way to see what areas need improvement. However, it is important to make certain that any and all assessment of differentiated learning is based on quality criteria.
After setting the goals of differentiated instruction, understanding the essential principles, and then developing the proper criteria and curriculum to carry out differentiated learning, itís important to identify special populations and what those students need as well. Some of these special populations could include the learning disabled, students with behavior disorders, physical disabilities, autism, and other disorders. Students with special needs can also benefit significantly from differentiated instruction. On the other side of the spectrum are gifted learners, high achievers, and talented students. This special group also needs attention and an individual learning plan as well.
Grouping and tiered assignments are also important in teaching students how to follow directions. Group assignments are often a great way to implement differentiated instruction because each student can not only learn from each other but they can mentor each other as well. The key, however, is to still be able to personalize learning within groups.
Careful mapping is also vital to progress in this type of learning and thinking. Some differentiated instruction strategies for this include Concept-based teaching, varied text and resource materials, learning contracts, mini lessons, and varied support systems. Differentiated learning doesnít stop with just teaching strategies, it continues by letting students process the ideas and concepts. In the end, itís important to continuously keep track of each studentís learning by recording and assessing the progress being made as well as what can be worked on for improvement.
Vince Welsh is CEO of Teacher Education Institute. TEI offers rigorous, graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 classroom teachers. For more about TEI, differentiated learning, differentiated instruction strategies, differentiated instruction visit http://www.teachereducation.com