Differentiated Instruction

Different Students Need Different Kinds of Instruction, but Developing that Instruction is a Challenge

The concept of "differentiated instruction" involves understanding and assessing how various students learn the subject being taught.  It assumes that there is often not just one path for teaching, even within the same classroom or even the same population of students.  This concept dovetails with curriculum development in that the curriculum must accout for the variety of learning styles, approaches, challenges, and more.  The goal is to make each subject, and every classroom, a place where all students can achieve sucessful learning.

To set the right path for differentiated instruction, the teacher must be able to have clear goals, but also be able to consider a range of additional factors that may demand adjustments and change to the tacher's methods.  These may include the obvious: culture, economic status, native language, and gender. It extends to other more subtle differentiations, such as each student's personal drive to learn, a student's level of preparation for learning, issues in a student's home, any hidden challenges a student has, a student's unique strengths, and many others.  The more teachers are aware of the full variety of "differentiation" in their classrooms, the better they can present curriculums that allow students of any background and/or capability learn successfully.  Essentially, teachers assess their student populations and then develop a variety of ways for different stduents to achieve the needed goals.  The goals remain the same, but how to get there is tailored for each student.

If teachers are able to fully assess their clasrooms in this manner, they can get as close as possible to delivering instruction to the group, and to the individual students, thereby allowing everyone in the class to learn equally even if they start out differently.

It is generally recognized that there are four ways for teachers to differentiate their instruction:

  1. Through content
  2. Process
  3. Product
  4. Learning environment based on the individual learner

Developing a successful differentiated instruction strategy is a process.  It involves doing a preliminary assessment of the students in the classroom, and continuing to assess how the instruction is working across the whole range of students.  A professioal educational consultan can bring valuable experience in this area to teachers trying to find the best ways to engage all of their students successfully.

DifferentiatedInstruction Analyzing StudentReadiness, Interest,& Learning Styles Small-GroupInstruction IndividualInstruction UsingTechnology ScaffoldingLessons