We shouldn’t be framing instruction around a pair of words. We frame instruction based on both the population of our classes and the subject matter we teach. Creativity not uniformity of instruction packets is the key.
Those of us who have taught in urban districts, where diversity in the classroom is the norm have known this from “back in the day” when we were students.
Differentiation is not an instructional model. It is instruction. Period. Kids aren’t test tubes with whom researchers experiment.
All learning is personal. All students, even those without special needs of various sorts, have individualized learning styles. My second grade teacher back in 1956-7 knew that. In fact, the 36 of us from a poor/working class neighborhood in the South Bronx felt it.
She, along with her husband went on to research and train teachers in that for years, before anyone mandated it.
Frankly I am tired of researchers and journalists telling us what differentiation is via a “primer” like this article.
From the article:
Differentiation tailors instruction by presentation. A teacher may vary the method and assignments covering the material to adjust to students’ strengths, needs, and interests. For example, a teacher may allow an introverted student to write an essay on a historical topic while a more outgoing student gives an oral presentation on the same subject. That distinction is accepted by some, though far from all, in the field.
The ambiguity has led to widespread confusion and debate over what differentiated instruction looks like in practice, and how its effectiveness can be evaluated.
Presentation? Who uses that word while teaching? Right there one knows the author never taught.
Ambiguity? Of course it is ambiguous. It is individualized differentiation. There is no timed solution. Kids don’t fit into little prescribed boxes so effectiveness can be evaluated.
Shame on Ed Week.