Ways to Differentiate Instruction

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Articles, Discussions, Educational Posts

What is the definition of differentiated learning for special education children?

The ability of a teacher to meet all of the unique individual academic needs of the children in the classroom.

No two children are alike or learn in the same way. An enriched environment for one student is not necessarily enriched for another. In the classroom we should teach children to think for themselves.

Ways a Teacher can differentiate instruction:

Whole group instruction: introducing new concepts and starting a lesson

Peer teaching: learn the material by teaching someone else

Cooperative learning: working in groups or 1 on 1 to finish a project

Options to finish work: provide 3 or 4 different options for students in any given class

Differentiate Content– Differentiating content requires that students are pre-tested so we can identify the students who do not require direct instruction. Students who demonstrate they understand the concept can skip instruction and apply the concepts to the task of solving a problem. Another way is to permit the apt student to accelerate their rate of progress. They can work ahead independently or cover the content faster than their peers.

Differentiate Process/ActivitiesDifferentiating the processes means varying activities or strategies to provide appropriate methods for students to explore the concepts. For example students may use graphic organizers, maps, diagrams or charts to display their comprehension of concepts covered. You can vary the complexity of the graphic organizer to facilitate learning for students with different levels of cognitive processing or ability levels.

Differentiate the Product- Varying the complexity of the product that students create to demonstrate mastery of the concepts. Students below grade level may have reduced performance expectations, while students above grade level are asked to produce work that requires more advanced thinking. Sometimes it is motivating for students to be offered choices of what their final product can be.

Differentiate by Manipulating The Environment or Through Accommodating Individual Learning Styles: Dunn & Dunn focused on manipulating the school environment. http://www.learningstyles.net/ Howard Gardner identified individual talents or aptitudes in his multiple intelligences theory. http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm

Curriculum isn’t defined in terms of what a teacher will teach but rather in terms of what a student will be able to demonstrate. It is essential that we understand what they knew at the beginning and how to move him/her forward from that point. This means we need to understand how each student learns best and we need to build on what they already know.


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