Differentiated instruction is a plan on how to use various teaching and learning approaches to cater for individual differences in the classroom. According to Youd (2013), “differentiation is responsive teaching rather than one-size-fits-all teaching” and, therefore, “is responsive to the learning preferences, interests, and readiness of individual learners” (The Differentiated Instruction Scrapbook, 2010). The six aspects include; (1) Topic entry point: Knowing learners differences in the classroom, that is, their interests, preferences, and readiness is paramount in planning how to deliver the content with their differences in mind. (2) Helping the students learn: It advises on the need for the teacher to be active by assisting the learners to comprehend the concept of the content. (3) Helping the students demonstrate the learning: The teacher should be aware of the progress in teaching and learning, and it is only possible if the learners provide useful feedback. (4) The environment for learning: It is important in differentiated instruction because THE learners’ comfort in different learning environments is also vital in ensuring that all learners are attentive in the selected setting. (5) Differentiated instructional structures: Instructional strategies during teaching and learning are varied, giving students freedom to choose how to participate, for example, among various tasks or group belonging, students choose on how to participate. (6) Instructional strategies: The methods used to deliver content are mixed in order to suit the variety of students. It has the benefit of ensuring the overall concept is understood by all as well as giving various perspectives of the content. Therefore, the differentiated instruction model ensures that the teacher is always conscious of the differences that exist among students. To the leaders, the framework provides an action plan that can be implemented to help in education reforms through capacity development for teachers. It is applicable in expanding teachers’ knowledge, improving their skills, and changing their attitudes for effective teaching. It offers a clear step by step approach that informs on strategies that would ensure learning for all.
The first initiative requires teachers to improve the teaching and learning environment for it to be conducive by identifying and writing in self-ticking notes on the areas that need improvement. Catering for different students’ psychological needs, and helping them to adapt to the school environment ensures that the students are comfortable and ready to learn in school. The second step advises teachers to exchange ideas in small groups, and present them classified according to their similar attributes. Lastly, the teachers brainstorm critically on the identified aspects of improvement, allowing criticism in order to develop common values and teamwork spirit.
Classroom climate entails conditions, such as learning resources, cleanliness, lighting, arrangement of furniture, and displays in class. The climate should be conducive for every learner because of varied preferences, for example, some learners prefer a quiet environment, brighter light than others (The Differentiated Instruction Scrapbook, 2010). In addition, working in groups and hands-on experience gives an opportunity for social interaction and intellectual development. Celebrating learning is a simple way to celebrate any classroom success that energizes and creates a positive environment (Gregory, 2011). Differentiation instruction should cater for learners environmental preferences to enhance acquisition of knowledge by providing a conducive environment (The Differentiated Instruction Scrapbook, 2010). Teachers organize for group-work in class to suit learners’ preferences and also respect the choices. Sometimes, learning can be shifted to outdoor experiences to stop boredom. In addition, a library environment, where there is silence, varies the setting. Teachers also use charts and displays to illustrate structures and concepts, and other environmental variation methods. The environmental varying factors can be applied in providing professional development to teachers during conferences and trainings. The environment can enhance interaction and expression of ideas, and hence improve the methods used by teachers in their respective classes.
Gregory, G. (2011). Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice, Training, Implementation, and Supervision 2nd Ed. Thousand Island, CA. Corwin Press.
The Government of Ontario. (2010). The Differentiated Instruction Scrapbook. ISBN 978-1-4435-2255-7. Retrieved on 6 July, 2014 from http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesDI/EducatorsPackages/DIEducatorsPackage2010/2010DIScrapbook.pdf
Youd, D. (2013, April). Empowerment Through Recognition of Difference: Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom. Paper presented at Giftedness Conference in Melbourne, 23rd – 24th April, 2013.Retrieved on 6 July, 2014 from http://www.vagtc.asn.au/sites/vagtc.asn.au/files/Debbie%20Youd%20%20Differentiation%20101%20Mini%20Keynote.pdf