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Differentiated Instruction is both a Theory and Philosophy

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Schools are like airport hubs; student passengers arrive from many different backgrounds for widely divergent destinations. Their particular takeoffs into adulthood will demand different flight plans.~ Levine. Differentiated Instruction is both a Theory and Philosophy.

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Schools are like airport hubs; student passengers arrive from many different backgrounds for widely divergent destinations. Their particular takeoffs into adulthood will demand different flight plans.~ Levine

differentiated instruction is both a theory and philosophy

Differentiated Instruction is both a Theory and Philosophy

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 The model of differentiated instruction requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and adjust the curriculum and presentation of information to learners rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum. ~Tomlinson

differentiation and the brain

Differentiation and the Brain

How does current research on how the brain learns inform the practice of DI

Was the brain designed for the 21st century classroom?What conditions in our classroom supports learning?
theories on human evolution

Theories on Human Evolution

Our 50,000 Year Old Brain

Behavioral Modernity is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on symbolic thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language









the brain is a survival organ designed to
The brain is a survival organ designed to:
  • Solve problems in an unstable outdoor environment .
  • Be in a body with nearly constant motion. (12miles)
  • Recognize danger and learn from mistakes.
  • Cooperate and form partnerships/teams/alliances within our community or neighbors.
  • Understand and learn from each other…this is our chief survival tool.
emotional state what happen when we don t feel safe
Emotional State:What happen when we don’t feel safe

This is kind of stressful…I’m generating cortisol

This is kind of fun… I’m generating endorphins

What’s the fear level for students?“Put you books away for the quiz…”“Billy, please sing the first verse of…”
So…if that is the environment the brain was designed for…what is happening in your classroom that supports the survival instinct?
school learning is harder than we think
“School” learning is harder than we think
  • Biological relevant stimuli is stronger than curriculum.
  • The brain is designed for survival instincts: Hunger, safety, breeding, building alliances
  • Attention requires that we orient, engage, and maintain independent neural networks. It is easy when the task is novel or pleasurable…but when it’s not…

Limbic System:

The Emotional Brain

Thalamus- first stop for sensory information.

Amygdala- Emotions and fear are processed here.

Hippocampus- consolidates memories/learning

Hypothalamus- monitors homeostasis, thirst, hunger, circadian rhythms, and control of the autonomic nervous system.

hippocampus the first stop in learning
Hippocampus: The first stop in Learning
  • Detection of novel events
  • Consolidates memory
  • Create Meaning
the adaptable rational brain
The “Adaptable” Rational Brain
  • Frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences.
  • Parietal Lobes are involved with sensation and perception
  • Cerebellum is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor movement
  • Occipital lobes are the center of our visual perception system
  • Temporal lobes are involved in the primary organization of sensory input
frontal cortex and limbic system
Frontal Cortex and Limbic System

The frontal cortex is in charge of creativity, planning, strategizing, decision making and judgment…Risk Analysis…Retrieval of prior knowledge.

The limbic system is primarily responsible for our emotional life, and has a lot to do with the formation of memories. First line of defense. Consolidates stimuli.

a basic model of memory
A Basic Model of Memory


Working Memory

Long-Term Memory



Data Affecting Survival


Data Generating Emotions


Data for New Learning


what about effort mindset students view of intelligence can help grades carol dweck
What about effort: MindsetStudents\' View of Intelligence Can Help GradesCarol Dweck

What on earth would make someone a nonlearner? Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn. Infants stretch their skills daily. Not just ordinary skills, but the most difficult tasks of a lifetime, like learning to walk and talk. They never decide it’s too hard or not worth the effort. Babies don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves. They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward. What could put an end to this exuberant learning? A fixed mindset...

People who hold the Growth Mindset believe that intelligence can be developed, that the brain is like a muscle that can be trained.
  • Embrace challenges
  • Obstacles & external setbacks do not discourage you.
  • Effort is seen not as something useless to be avoid but as necessary to grow and master useful skills.
  • Criticism and negative feedback are sources of information.

People who hold the Fixed Mindset believe that “they are the way they are”, but that doesn’t mean that they have less of a desire for a positive self-image than anyone else.

  • Avoid challenges and stick to what they know they can do well. Challenge is hard and success is not assured,
  • Give up when the task seems out of reach
  • Sees effort as fruitless. If your worldview tells you that effort is an unpleasant thing that doesn’t really pay dividends, then the smart thing to do is to avoid it as much as possible.
  • Useful negative feedback is ignored in the best of cases, and taken as an insult the rest of the time.
what s my mindset an an adult
What’s my mindset an an adult?
  • Fixed
  • Somewhat Fixed
  • In the middle
  • Somewhat growth
  • Growth
what was my mindset as a student
What was my mindset as a student?
  • Fixed
  • Somewhat Fixed
  • In the middle
  • Somewhat growth
  • Growth
so what is my brain good at and why so many part specialization
So…what is my brain good at?

And why so many part…specialization?

power of stories
Power of Stories

Human mind is exquisitely tuned to understand and remember stories

      • Causality
      • Conflict
      • Complication
      • Character
  • Comprehending requires inferences…forcing you to think about meaning.
  • Stories have causal structure…one thing leads to another
the towers of hanoi
The Towers of Hanoi


Move all the wooden doughnut from one peg to any other peg without ever placing a larger doughnut on top of a smaller doughnut .


In the inns of certain Himalayan villages is practiced a refined tea ceremony. The ceremony involves a host and exactly two guests, neither more nor less. When his guests have arrived and seated themselves at his table, the host performs three services for them. These services are listed in the order of the nobility the Himalayans attribute to them: stoking the fire, fanning the flames, and pouring the tea. During the ceremony, any of those present may ask another, “Honored Sir, may I perform this onerous task for you?” However, a person may request of another only the least noble of the tasks that the other is performing. Furthermore, if a person is performing any tasks, then he may not request a task that is nobler than the least noble task he is already performing. Custom requires that by the time the tea ceremony is over, all the tasks will have been transferred from the host to the most senior of the guests. How can this be accomplished?

so visual images are important

So visual images are important…

What else is important for making and storing memories?


On a blank piece of paper, number the lines 1-30 I will call out 30 words with directions for each word.Record the task on each line.

tasks for individual words i will let you know the task
Tasks for individual words...I will let you know the task
  • If I turn my head to the left when I say the word you will write (Y) for yes. If I don’t turn it write (N) for no.
  • If the word has an A or U in it write (Y) for Yes. If not write (N) for no.
  • Rate the word (1-7) for pleasantness; 1 being least pleasant; 7 being very pleasant.