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Differentiated Instruction


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Title: Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction
  • What, Why, and How

What is Differentiation?
  • Differentiating Instruction means changing the
    pace, level, or kind of instruction you provide
    in response to individual learners needs,
    styles, or interests

Differentiated InstructionIs Not
  • One thing
  • A program
  • Adaptations tacked on to already developed
  • Tracking- mixed ability grouping is very
  • Changing parts of a lesson for one or two
  • A chaotic classroom- though it can appear that
    way at times
  • The goal the goal is student learnjng
  • An approach that benefits all students
  • Student centered
  • Different approaches for students, not different
    amounts of work
  • Creating diversity in instruction- mixing lesson
    formats, instructional arrangements, support,
    etc. for all learners
  • Something most teachers are doing already perhaps
    without realizing it, but also a different way of
    thinking about how we cover material
  • A means to an end and that end is student

Adapted from Tools for Schools, Kluth, Paula
Some Traits of Quality Differentiation
  • Rooted in student need
  • an extension of high quality curriculum
  • Derived from on-going assessment
  • Respectful of each learner
  • Builds community
  • Involves students as decision makers
  • Demonstrates teacher-students partnerships in
    teaching learning
  • Growth focused
  • Scaffolds growth for each learner
  • Supports successful collaboration
  • Stretches each learner
  • Promotes rewards individual excellence
  • Addresses readiness, interest, learning
  • Attends effectively to gender culture
  • Spans content, process, product
  • Effective varied use of instructional
  • Teaches students to take responsibility for own
  • Flexible use of time, space, materials,
  • Maximizes opportunity to show what you know
  • Balances student teacher choice
  • Planned (proactive) plus tailoring
  • Occurs when either teacher or student is on
    center stage
  • Includes whole class, small group, individual
  • Supports success for each learner the class as
    a whole
  • Builds collaborations with parents

Differentiated Instruction is Based on the
Following Beliefs
  • Students differ in their learning profiles
  • Classrooms in which students are active learners,
    decision makers and problem solvers are more
    natural and effective than those in which
    students are served a one-size-fits-all
    curriculum and treated as passive recipients of
  • Covering information takes a backseat to making
    meaning out of important ideas.

From How to Differentiate Instruction in
Mixed-Ability Classrooms by Carol Ann Tomlinson
Why Differentiate
  • The past two decades have provided extraordinary
    progress in our understanding of the nature of
    learning. Never before have neuroscience and
    classroom instruction been so closely linked.
    Because advances in technology enable us to view
    the working brain as it learns, educators can now
    find evidence-based neuroimaging and
    brain-mapping studies to determine the most
    effective ways to teach.
  • Much suggests that differentiated instruction can
    maximize brain development

How Does Research Support DI?
  • Differentiated Instruction is the result of a
    synthesis of a number of educational theories and
  • Brain research indicates that learning occurs
    when the learner experiences moderate challenge
    and relaxed alertness readiness
  • Psychological research reveals that when interest
    is tapped, learners are more likely to find
    learning rewarding and become more autonomous as
    a learner.

Brain Cell Structure
(No Transcript)
Brain Plasticity and Pruning
  • A 2004 report in Nature found that people who
    learned how to juggle increased the amount of
    gray matter in their occipital lobes (visual
    memory areas). When they stopped practicing the
    juggling, the new gray matter vanished. A similar
    structural change appears to occur in people who
    learnand then don't practicea second language.
    The decrease in connecting dendrites and other
    supporting brain connecting cells that are not
    used is called pruning. The loss of native
    language ability, juggling skills, or learned
    academic material that is not practiced is the
    flip side of the brain's growth response to
    learning. It is the use it or lose it
    phenomenon. The process is called pruning
    because the brain pathways and connections that
    are used regularly are maintained and
    hard-wired, while others are eliminated, or
  • Pruning. Just as hedges are pruned to cut off
    errant shoots that don't communicate with many
    neighboring leaves, the brain prunes its own
    inactive cells. By the time we enter adolescence,
    our brain has chosen most of the final neurons it
    will keep throughout our adult life based on
    which cells are used and which are not.

Dendrite growth
  • Neuron growth stops after about age 20, but
    dendrite growth can continue throughout life
  • Dendrites increase in size and number in response
    to learned skills, experience, and information.
  • These neural networks, similar to electric
    circuitry, are the roadways that connect various
    parts of the brain.
  • the more alternative pathways there are to
    connect with a memory, the more efficiently the
    traffic will flow, and the more rapidly that
    memory will be retrieved when needed.
  • Like an exercised muscle, the more they are
    utilized, the more these circuits become more
    efficient and easier to access and activate.

Dendrite Growth (cont.)
  • Dendrites increase in size and number in response
    to learned skills, experience, and information.
    New dendrites grow as branches from frequently
    activated neurons. This growth is stimulated by
    proteins called neurotrophins. Nerve growth
    factor is one of these neurotrophins. Although
    the brain measurements of neurotrophins are
    highest during childhood (when the brain's
    connecting cells are undergoing their greatest
    growth and development), as students continue to
    learn, neurotrophin activity is elevated in the
    brain regions responsible for new learning

Oxygen Oxygen Oxygen
  • Heart rate increases with motion, challenge and
    recognition of novelty
  • Blood flow increases with heart rate
  • All cell processes- including dendrite growth-
    increases with blood flow
  • Ergo, increased heart rate grows dendrites so
    your students are likely to learn more if there
    is physical or mental motion and challenge in
    connection with your curiculum! (Gum anyone?)

Three Principles of How the Brain Learns
  • Learning environments must feel emotionally safe
    for learning to take place.
  • To learn, students must experience appropriate
    levels of challenge.
  • Each brain needs to make its own meaning of ideas
    and skills.

tml How the Brain Learns, Carol Ann Tomlinson and
M. Layne Kalbfleisch
How to Differentiate
  • 4 basic ways
  • By content
  • By process
  • By product
  • By learning environment

The Key
The Key to a differentiated classroom is that all
students are regularly offered CHOICES and
students are matched with tasks compatible with
their individual learner profiles.
Curriculum should be differentiated in three
areas 1. Content Multiple option for taking
in information 2. Process Multiple options for
making sense of the ideas 3. Product Multiple
options for expressing what they know
Differentiating Content
  • Using reading materials at different readability
  • Putting text on tape
  • Using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness
    level of students
  • Presenting information through visual and
    auditory means
  • Using reading buddies/reading partners
  • Think-Pair-Share/Preview-Midview-Postview
  • Meeting with small groups to re-teach ideas or
    skills for struggling learners or extend the
    thinking or skills of advanced learners

Excerpted from Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000)
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary
Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Differentiating Process
  • Using tiered activities- all learners working
    with same understandings and skills, but with
    different levels of support or challenge
  • Creating interest centers that encourage students
    to explore parts of the class topic of particular
    interest to them
  • Providing agendas- task lists containing whole
    class work and work addressing individual needs
    of students
  • Providing manipulatives or hands-on materials
  • Varying length of time to complete tasks

Excerpted from Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000)
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary
Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Differentiating Products
  • Giving options on how to express required
    learning (make a mural, write a letter, create a
    puppet show, etc.)
  • Using different rubrics to match and extend
    students skill levels
  • Allowing students to work alone or in groups to
    complete product
  • Encouraging students to create own product as
    long as it contains the required elements

Excerpted from Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000)
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary
Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Differentiating Learning Environment
  • Allowing for places to work quietly without
    distraction, as well as places for students to
    work collaboratively
  • Setting clear guidelines for independent work
  • Developing routines for students to get help when
    teacher busy working with other students
  • Allowing for those students who need to move
    around when learning, while others need to sit

Excerpted from Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000)
Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary
Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on
Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Where to Start?
Guidelines to remember when aspiring to
  • Clarify key concepts and generalizations to
    ensure that all learners gain powerful
    understandings that serve as the foundation for
    the future learning.
  • Use assessment as a teaching tool to extend
    versus merely measure instruction. Assessment
    should occur before, during, and following the
    instructional episode.
  • Emphasize critical and creative thinking as a
    goal in lesson design. The tasks, activities, and
    procedures for students should require that
    students understand and apply meaning.
  • Engaging all learners is essential.
  • Provide a balance between teacher-assigned and
    student-selected tasks. Teachers should assure
    that students have choices in their learning.

Begin Slowly Just Begin!
  • Low-Prep Differentiation
  • Choices of books
  • Homework options
  • Use of reading buddies
  • Varied journal Prompts
  • Orbitals
  • Varied pacing with anchor options
  • Student-teaching goal setting
  • Work alone / together
  • Whole-to-part and part-to-whole explorations
  • Flexible seating
  • Varied computer programs
  • Design-A-Day
  • Varied Supplementary materials
  • Options for varied modes of expression
  • Varying scaffolding on same organizer
  • Lets Make a Deal projects
  • Computer mentors
  • Think-Pair-Share by readiness, interest, learning
  • High Prep Differentiation
  • Tiered activities and labs
  • Tiered products
  • Independent studies
  • Multiple texts
  • Alternative assessments
  • Learning contracts
  • 4-MAT
  • Multiple-intelligence options
  • Compacting
  • Spelling by readiness
  • Entry Points
  • Varying organizers
  • Lectures coupled with graphic organizers
  • Community mentorships
  • Interest groups
  • Tiered centers
  • Interest centers
  • Personal agendas

What you will see in the Successfully
Differentiated Classroom
  • Learning experiences are based on student
    readiness, interest, or learning profile.
  • Assessment of student needs is ongoing, and tasks
    are adjusted based on assessment data.
  • All students participate in respectful work.
  • The teacher is primarily a coordinator of time,
    space, and activities rather than primarily a
    provider of group information.
  • Students work in a variety of groups
    configurations. Flexible grouping is evident.
  • Time use is flexible in response to student
  • The teacher uses a variety of instructional
    strategies to help target instruction to student
  • Clearly established criteria are used to help
    support student success.
  • Student strengths are emphasized.

THE BOTTOM LINE At the most basic level,
differentiation consists of the efforts of
teachers to respond to variance among learners
in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out
to an individual or small group to vary his or
her teaching in order to create the best
learning experience possible, that teacher is
differentiating instruction. Carol Ann Tomlinson
Next class
  • differentiation activities that can be done in
    any classroom
  • Resources- on line and text
  • Testimonials from teachers using it effectively
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