When working with a classroom of students, teachers must remember to treat each pupil as an individual. Even though bunched together in one class, not all students learn a subject in the same way, and different students have their own methods of demonstrating what they know. To help each individual student reach his or her potential, teachers must learn to differentiate instruction.
About differentiated instruction
Differentiating instruction is a technique that teachers use to accommodate each student’s learning style and instructional preferences. This strategy may involve teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional methods, or it may require the teacher to teach content at varying levels of difficulty based on the readiness and ability of each student. Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may also assess student learning using multiple tools.
Differentiated instruction examples
Educators can differentiate instruction for their students in a variety of ways. Below are some of the most effective strategies teachers can use to accommodate individual students in the classroom.
Changes to the learning environment
- While some students prefer a learning environment in which they can discuss subject matter with their peers, other students would rather learn alone. Teachers who provide both types of environments within the same classroom are practicing an example of differentiated instruction.
- Some teachers differentiate instruction by incorporating classroom materials and decor that reflect a variety of home situations, cultures and life choices.
- Educators can easily differentiate instruction by allowing students to choose from among several assessment options. For example, students may be able to demonstrate their knowledge on a particular unit by taking a test, writing a paper or completing a presentation with visual aids.
- To ensure that all students’ growth is measured on an individual basis, some teachers create customized rubrics for each student at the beginning of a unit.
- Some students learn better through direct instruction, while others would rather read or look at pictures. Some teachers differentiate instruction in the classroom by offering options to students during lessons. For example, students may be able to learn the same material by reading a book, listening to a lecture on tape or completing an interactive assignment online.
- Because some students learn course material faster than others, teachers may also differentiate instruction by tailoring each student’s lesson for the day to his or her skill level.
- Not all students require the same amount of support from the teacher. While some students may benefit from one-on-one interaction with a teacher or classroom aide, others may be able to progress by themselves. Teachers can enhance student learning by offering support based on individual needs.
- Finally, teachers can differentiate instruction in the classroom by allowing students to choose between working in groups with other students or completing assignments individually.