“Differentiation affirms that principle, but reminds us that what may “hook” one student might well puzzle, bore, or irritate others” (Tomlinson, 2001, p. 17). We need to always keep this in mind and be ready for it through other means. Pearson states that there are 7 categories that we need to keep in mind when using differentiated instruction in the classroom.
- Differing Tasks According to Student Needs
- Mixed Grouping (whole group, small groups, mixed abilities)
- Varying Resources (basic, advanced)
- Pace that Matches the Student
- Varying Outcome
- Dialogue and Support
- Ongoing Assessment (Pearson, 2010)
By keeping these in mind, you can facilitate a differentiated classroom keeping in mind all students, not just the one who was “hooked.”
I love how Tomlinson creates a list of skills that good teachers learn to use in order to be able to differentiate instruction within the classroom. (p. 17) Though hers is longer than Pearson’s it is worth looking at. She then proceeds to put them into three metaphors; the teacher as a director of an orchestra, a coach, and a jazz musician. I can relate to the coach metaphor. Not only because I am a coach, but because I agree with her thoughts for the teacher’s roles and the students roles. Miller pushed Project-Based Learning (PBL), stating that they allow for …”effective differentiation in assessment as well as daily management and instruction” (2012). Through PBL students have differentiated instruction through team learning, mini lessons, reflections and goal setting, choice in their products, as well as balance among their individual work and their group work.
“The core of differentiation is a relationship between teachers and students” (McCarthy, 2014). This relationship is what connects the process of learning with the outcome created from it. If students are interested, ready and motivated they are more likely to retain the information that the instructor is trying to teach. The teacher needs to be constantly monitoring and guiding the instruction according to what they learn is necessary for the individual child. I found a concept map by Tomlinson which lays out a way to use DI that is visually pleasing. (Figure 1.1, 2000)
I used to teach mini society when I taught third grade. This unit is a wonderful example of differentiated instruction. By creating a miniature society within the classroom, students are able to learn the economics involved in being a part of a society. By creating their own currency, government, laws, even their own businesses they learn how to work together as well as individually in a community. (Day & Ballard, 1996) We have to let kids take charge from time to time, it is so empowering.
Day, H. R., Ballard, D., (Oct. 1996). The Classroom Mini-Economy: Integrating Economics into
the Elementary and Middle School Curriculum. Indiana Department of Education.
McCarthy, J. (2014, July 23). 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do.
Miller, A. (2012, February 8). Six Strategies for Differentiated Instruction in Project-Based
Learning. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-strategies-pbl-andrew-miller
Pearson. (2010). Methods of Differentiation in the Classroom. Retrieved from
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001, April) How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classroom.
Alexandria, Virginia. pp. 16-26.
Tomlinson, C. A., Allan, S. D., (2000, Dec.). Leadership for Differentiating Schools and