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Differentiating Instruction: What’s it all about?

Differentiating Instruction: What’s it all about?

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Differentiating Instruction: What’s it all about?

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  1. Differentiating Instruction: What’s it all about? A module for pre-service and in-service professional development MN RTI Center Author: Peg Ballard, Ph.D, Minnesota State University Mankato click on RTI Center

  2. MN RTI Center Training Modules This module was developed with funding from the MN legislature It is part of a series of modules available from the MN RTI Center for use in preservice and inservice training: 2

  3. What is Differentiated Instruction? • Procedures for assisting students in learning, providing options, challenging students, and matching books to students to maximize their learning (Tompkins, 2010). • Also called differentiation, a process through which teachers enhance learning by matching student characteristics to instruction and assessment • Differentiated instruction allows all students to access the same classroom curriculum by providing entry points, learning tasks, and outcomes that are tailored to students' needs (Hall, Strangman, & Meyer, 2003). 3

  4. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Specifically, differentiated instruction is: • Proactive • More qualitative than quantitative • Aimed at offering multiple approaches to content, process, and product • Student-centered • A blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction Making It Work Link! 4

  5. What is Differentiated Instruction? • Carol Ann Tomlinson: To be a little more precise, it means that the teacher anticipates the differences in students' readiness, differences in their interests, differences in their learning profiles, and as a result of that creates different learning options or different paths to learning so that students have the opportunity to learn as much as they can, as deeply as they can—but without experiencing undue anxiety because the assignments are too taxing, or boredom because they are not challenging enough. 5

  6. Is differentiated instruction the same thing as individualized instruction? • Carol Ann Tomlinson: Differentiating instruction is not individualized instruction. It doesn't mean coming in with a different lesson plan for every student. Perhaps there might be two or three or four learning options some days in a classroom, but we're not talking about a classroom where a teacher tries to have 21 or 32 or 35 different options 6

  7. What is the teacher's role in a differentiated classroom? • Carol Ann Tomlinson: A tricky thing in learning to differentiate instruction is learning that a teacher's role in a classroom really has to be redefined. The teacher becomes more of a facilitator of time and space, an assessor of students, a person who helps kids learn to plan and learn to assess the effectiveness of their planning. 7

  8. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Differentiated Instruction is based on the following beliefs: • Students differ in their learning profiles; • Classrooms in which students are active learners, decision makers and problem solvers are more natural and effective than those in which students are served a "one-size-fits-all” curriculum and treated as passive recipients of information; • "Covering information" takes a backseat to making meaning out of important ideas. 8

  9. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • These three beliefs, in turn, require that every teacher answer three specific questions: • In the content you must teach, what is it that you want all of your students to know? • How can each student best learn this in ways that are appropriate to his/her specific needs? • How can each student most effectively demonstrate what s/he has learned? 9

  10. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • At its most basic level, • Differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. • Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction. 10

  11. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile: • Content- what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information; • Process- activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content; • Products- culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit; and • Learning Environment- the way the classroom works and feels. 11

  12. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating content at the elementary level include the following: • Using reading materials at varying readability levels; • Putting text materials on tape; • Using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students; • Presenting ideas through both auditory and visual means; • Using reading buddies; and • Meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners 12

  13. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating process or activities at the elementary level include the following: • Using tiered activities through which all learners work with the same important understandings and skills, but proceed with different levels of support, challenge, or complexity; • Providing interest centers that encourage students to explore subsets of the class topic of particular interest to them; • Developing personal agendas (task lists written by the teacher and containing both in-common work for the whole class and work that addresses individual needs of learners) to be completed either during specified agenda time or as students complete other work early; (continued on next slide) 13

  14. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating process or activities at the elementary level include the following (continued): • Offering manipulatives or other hands-on supports for students who need them; and • Varying the length of time a student may take to complete a task in order to provide additional support for a struggling learner or to encourage an advanced learner to pursue a topic in greater depth. 14

  15. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating products at the elementary level include the following: • Giving students options of how to express required learning (e.g., create a puppet show, write a letter, or develop a mural with labels); • Using rubrics that match and extend students' varied skills levels; • Allowing students to work alone or in small groups on their products; and • Encouraging students to create their own product assignments as long as the assignments contain required elements. 15

  16. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating learning environment at the elementary level include: • Making sure there are places in the room to work quietly and without distraction, as well as places that invite student collaboration; • Providing materials that reflect a variety of cultures and home settings; • Setting out clear guidelines for independent work that matches individual needs; (Continued on next slide) 16

  17. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Examples of differentiating learning environment at the elementary level include (continued): • Developing routines that allow students to get help when teachers are busy with other students and cannot help them immediately; • Helping students understand that some learners need to move around to learn, while others do better sitting quietly (Tomlinson, 1995, 1999; Winebrenner, 1992, 1996). 17

  18. Exploring Differentiated Instruction • Focus on concepts, emphasizing understanding and sense-making, not retention and regurgitation of fragmented facts. • Make use of ongoing assessments of readiness and interests, and pre-assess to determine students needing more support and those who can jump forward. Do not assume all students need a certain task. • Make grouping flexible. Students can work alone at times or place them in groups based on readiness, interests, or learning styles. Use whole-group instruction for introducing ideas, planning, or sharing results. • Teachers view themselves as guides. Help students set goals based on readiness, interests, and learning profiles — and assess based on growth and goal attainment. 18

  19. How is it implemented? • Implementation looks different for each student and each assignment. Before beginning instruction, teachers should do three things: 1. Use diagnostic assessments to determine student readiness. These assessments can be formal or informal. Teachers can give pre-tests, question students about their background knowledge, or use KWL charts (charts that ask students to identify what they already Know, what they Want to know, and what they have Learned about a topic) 19

  20. How is it implemented? (cont.) • Determine student interest. This can be done by using interest inventories and/or including students in the planning process. Teachers can ask students to tell them what specific interests they have in a particular topic, and then teachers can try to incorporate these interests into their lessons. • Identify student learning styles and environmental preferences using learning style inventories. Teachers can also ask students how they learn best and by observing student activities. Identifying environmental preferences ; do students work best in large or small groups and what environmental factors might contribute to or inhibit student learning. For example, a student might need to be free from distraction or have extra lighting while he or she works. 20

  21. How to Plan for Differentiated Instruction • Step 1- Know Your Students • Determine the ability level of your students. • This can be done by surveying past records of student performance to determine capabilities, prior learning, past experiences with learning, etc. • It is also important to get to know your students informally. • This can be done by an interest inventory, an interview/conference, or asking students to respond to an open-ended questionnaire with key questions about their learning preferences (depending on the age group). 21

  22. How to Plan - Step 1 (cont) • Is behavior management a problem? • This is key when planning for activities that require less structure. • It is still important to determine learning styles and preferences for students who may have a hard time controlling their behaviors. • Sometimes knowing preferences can help to motivate students to attend to any tasks that are presented. 22

  23. How to Plan for Differentiated Instruction • Step 2- Have a Repertoire of Teaching Strategies • Because “one size does not fit all,” it is imperative that a variety of teaching strategies be used in a differentiated classroom. • Teaching strategies worth mentioning: • direct instruction, • inquiry-based learning, • cooperative learning, and • information processing models 23

  24. How to Plan: Step 2 (cont.) • Direct Instruction: • Traditionally teacher centered • Used to cover a great amount of material in the amount of time teachers have to cover what students need to learn • It is structured and is based on mastery learning. More information can be found at: 24

  25. How to Plan: Step 2 (cont) • Inquiry-based Learning: • has become very popular in teaching today. • It is based on the scientific method and works very well in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. • It is student centered and requires students to conduct investigations independent of the teacher, unless otherwise directed or guided through the process of discovery. For more information, go to: or 25

  26. How to Plan: Step 2 (cont) • Cooperative Learning: • Arguably one of the most misunderstood strategies for teaching is "cooperative learning”: • can produce extraordinary results in learning outcomes • based on grouping small teams of students heterogeneously according to ability, interest, background • Teacher picks the best strategy that will be used to assign the task for students to accomplish. popular strategies include Jigsaw II, STAD-Student Teams, or Group Investigation. For more information, go to: 26

  27. How to Plan: Step 2 (cont) • Information Processing Strategies: • Teaching students "how to" process information is a key factor in teaching students how to strategically organize, store, retrieve, and apply information presented. • strategies include: • Memorization • reciprocal teaching • scaffolding • KWL • graphic organizing • webbing For more information go to 27

  28. How to Plan for Differentiated Instruction • Step 3- Identify a Variety of Instructional Activities • In a differentiated classroom, activities are suited to the needs of students according to the mixed ability levels, interests, backgrounds, etc • Example: English language learners in a class, • need to be provide activities that are bilingual in nature. • necessary resources to complete the activity with success • Good activities require students to develop and apply knowledge in ways that make sense to them and that they find meaningful and relevant Ideas for activities can be found at: 28

  29. How to Plan for Differentiated Instruction • Step 4- Identify Authentic Ways to Assess or Evaluate Student Progress • Authentic assessment is now taking the limelight as we attempt to measure students' progress in a fair and equitable way. • Assessment techniques can include: • portfolios • rubrics • performance-based assessment • knowledge mapping More Ideas At This Link: 29

  30. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction • Differentiation isn't just about having different students do different things. • Differentiated instruction is based on: • students' needs • flexibly adapted to meet students' changing needs. • Consider the following examples: • Simply different experiences for students vs. differentiated experiences 30

  31. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction • Whole Class Structures Differentiated… When Kate writes a Morning Message for her second graders, she builds in something for each of her spelling/word study groups. One day, she wrote a blank for the sh in share for one group, a blank for the silent e in the word lake for a second group, and a blank after scrub so a third group could change it into scrubbing. During Morning Message, she chooses a volunteer from each targeted group to fill in the appropriate blank. 31

  32. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction • Small Groups Differentiated… In September, Jill took three running records on each of her first graders. Based upon their instructional levels, she created four reading groups. Every three weeks, she took an additional running record on each student and changed her groups to reflect students’ new instructional levels. Over the year, she had from three to six groups depending on these results. 32

  33. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction • Workshops Differentiated… Rachel teaches her third grade class a writing mini-lesson about dialogue. She circulates the room as students write, and jots down the names of students who are experimenting with dialogue in their writing, noting their use of quotation marks. During independent writing time, she pulls the group of students who were not punctuating their dialogue and teaches a mini-lesson on quotation marks. Then she pulls the group of students who were using quotation marks correctly and introduces the concept of indenting for new speakers. 33

  34. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction • Centers Differentiated… Joe has an alphabet stamp center in his kindergarten classroom. Each student brings an index card with a picture on it to the center, stamps the initial letter on the card, colors in the picture, and glues it into his/her notebook. Each day, Joe chooses a picture for each student, based upon his observations of the consonants with which the student is familiar. 34

  35. Differentiating Instruction: What’s It All About The End A+ 35

  36. In Summary . . . Your Ticket to Success Try this link 36

  37. Activities • Scavenger Hunt • • Different/Differentiated activity from slides 26 – 29 could be accomplished individually or sm. groups. • Developing a differentiated lesson plan based on a classroom data set or develop a differentiated lesson plan based on a specific topic for a particular grade level focusing on how many differentiated approaches could be used to accomplish the objective. • Students could develop their own videos on differentiation. • 37

  38. Resources • Access Center. (2004). Differentiated Instruction for Reading. Washington D.C.: Author. • • • Article: Teaching in mixed-ability classrooms: Teachers guide students down many paths to a common destination by Mary Anne Hess • 38

  39. Resources Leipzig, Diane. Differentiated Classroom Structures for Literacy Instruction, 39

  40. Differentiation Quiz • What are the four classroom elements that teachers can differentiate? • Define each of the above four elements. •  What are two ways that “Whole Group” instruction can be used within the differentiated classroom? • Explain how the phrase “one size does not fit all” relates to differentiated instruction. 40

  41. Explain the difference between instruction that is “different” and instruction that is “differentiated.” • Provide an example. • True or False… Teaching students "how to" process information should not be used in teaching students how to strategically organize, store, retrieve, and apply information presented. • _________ is based on the scientific method and works very well in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. a. Cooperative learning b. Inquiry based learning c. Direct instruction

  42. Note: The MN RTI Center does not endorse any particular product. Examples used are for instructional purposes only. • Special Thanks: • Thank you to Dr. Ann Casey, director of the MN RTI Center, for her leadership • Thank you to Aimee Hochstein, Kristen Bouwman, and Nathan Rowe, Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate students, for editing work, writing quizzes, and enhancing the quality of these training materials