The Gateway School District provides a variety of educational programs to meet the individual needs of students and reinforce their basic skills in all academic areas. The schools' curriculums provide students with opportunities to develop analytical, critical and creative thinking skills, as well as to develop technical training.
In 2005, the District adopted a research-based Differentiated Instruction approach to better meet the individual needs of students and reinforce basic skills in all academic areas.
A DEFINITION OF DIFFERENTIATION
Differentiation is simply attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small group of students rather than the more typical pattern of teaching the class as though all individuals in it were basically alike.
Differentiated Instruction is classroom practice that looks eyeball to eyeball with the reality that kids differ and the most effective teachers do whatever it takes to hook the whole range of kids on learning.
Differentiated Instruction is a way to meet children where they are and help them to achieve maximum growth as learners.
When a teacher tries to teach something to the entire class at the same time, chances are, one third of the kids already know it, one-third will get it, and the remaining third won't. So, two-thirds of the children are wasting their time. (Lilian Katz)
REQUIREMENTS OF DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION
Differentiated Instruction requires the teacher to identify what he wants the students to know, understand, and be able to do. All students must master the essential learning. There is no "watering down" the curriculum.
Differentiated Instruction requires high quality curricula and instruction that is clearly focused on the essential understandings and skills of the discipline that a professional would value.
PRINCIPLES OF DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION
Respectful Tasks – Respectful tasks are equally interesting and engaging tasks that facilitate equal acquisition of essential understanding and skills.
Flexible Grouping – Flexible grouping ensures student groups that vary widely and purposefully over a relatively short period of time and provide access to a wide variety of learning opportunities and working arrangements.
Ongoing Assessment and Adjustment – In a differentiated classroom, a teacher sees everything a student says or creates as useful information both in understanding that particular learner and in crafting instruction to be effective for that learner.
WAYS TEACHERS CAN DIFFERENTIATE
Content – Content refers to how students encounter information or how actual content may need to be varied.
Process – Process refers to how a student makes sense of, or comes to understand, the information, ideas, and skills that are at the heart of a lesson.
Product – Product refers to assessments or demonstrations of what students have come to know, understand, and be able to do as the result of an extended sequence of learning. A product is the student's opportunity to show what she has learned throughout a unit or a semester in history, for example.
STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS FOR WHICH TEACHERS CAN DIFFERENTIATE
Readiness – To differentiate in response to student readiness, a teacher constructs tasks or provides learning choices at different levels of difficulty.
Interest – To differentiate in response to student interest, a teacher aligns key skills and materials for understanding from a curriculum segment with topics or pursuits that intrigue students.
Learning profile – To differentiate in response to student learning profile, a teacher addresses learning styles, student talent, or intelligence profiles.
INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES WHICH PROMOTE DIFFERENTIATION
- Multiple Intelligences
- Taped Materials
- Anchor Activities
- Tiered Lessons, Centers, and/or Products
- Small Group Instruction
- Interest Centers, Groups, and/or Varied Assignments
DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION IS A JOURNEY
Differentiated Instruction is a way of thinking about effective teaching and how people learn best. Differentiated Instruction takes times to develop and must be introduced at a pace designated for endurance and mandates ongoing support.