JiTT R2D2 Collaborative Learning Differentiated Instructions

Differentiated Instructions

contributed by Susan Soh

What is the rationale of using Differentiated Instructions?

The reason is very simple and obvious. Because one size cannot fit all. Because not every student is alike. Psychologists also tell us that a student learns only when a task is a little too hard for that student.

What is the pedagogy all about?

Differentiated instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001).

All students are regularly offered CHOICES. Based on the student's readiness levels, interests, and learning profile, teachers modify the content, process, product and/or learning environment. Differentiating instruction makes teaching more interesting and effective as the teacher meets the needs of his or her students.

All differentiation of learning begins with student assessment. Firstly, teachers can use a variety of assessments to determine a student's readiness. However, readiness is constantly changing and as readiness changes, it is important that students be permitted to move between different groups (flexible grouping). Varying the level of questioning (and consequent thinking skills), designing tiered assignments and compacting the curriculum are useful strategies for accommodating differences in ability or readiness.

Another filter for assigning students to tasks is by learning profile, such as adjusting preferred environment (quiet, lower lighting, formal/casual seating etc.) or learning modality, auditory (learns best by hearing information), visual (learns best through seeing information in charts or pictures) or kinesthetic preferences (learns best by using concrete examples, or may need to move around while learning) or through personal interests. Since student motivation is also a unique element in learning, understanding individual learning styles and interests will permit teachers to apply appropriate strategies for developing intrinsic motivational techniques.

Who is the target audience of this pedagogy?

Everyone! It is also suitable for all subjects.

What else do we have to note?

It is highly important to note that despite different or tiered assignments given to students, teachers do not and will not compromise on the main objectives of the curriculum. Teachers will do their utmost best to maintain an environment of fairness and cooperation. It is less structured, more busy and often less quiet than older teaching methods. However, differentiation engages students more deeply in their learning, provides for constant growth and development, and provides for a stimulating and exciting classroom.