What is differentiation?
In the article A Teacher’s Guide to Differentiating Instruction, it is described as modifications to teaching that support the needs of a diverse group of learners. In Differentiation Chapter 1: One Size Doesn’t Fit All, differentiation described as a way of teaching that acknowledges that all learners are different and have different learning needs. Differentiated instruction is about making modification to lessons plans to ensure that learners’ prior knowledge, ability level, needs, interests, and all of the things that factor into their learning, are considered.
There are many things that make learners unique. Understanding and supporting learning with consideration for students’ uniqueness’s will improve learning experiences. If a student is an English language learner, considerations will have to be made for how you can teach the lesson so that they are still able to get a full learning experience. If students are at different reading levels, above or before their grade level, the type of reading will need to reflect those diversities. Different readings/instruction should help learners below level and push students above level even farther. If students have difficulty focusing, they will need to be provided material that will help them remain engaged in the lesson. Differentiation is not about giving everyone the same education, but making modifications that will allow all learners equal opportunities to learn.
Differing Opinion on Differentiation:
James R. Delisle claims that differentiation doesn’t work. Delisle says that differentiation is just a trend that is treated as a miracle answer, but indeed is not. Delisle instead says that differentiation is difficult to implement and that it won’t work for our current system. Education clumps a group of learners that are in the same age group, but have huge differences that effect their learning. He says that if students were grouped in more similar ability groups, differentiation would be more easily implemented and could work.
I don’t believe that I could ever disagree that a “one size fits all” education doesn’t work. It is obvious that classrooms are full of diversity. People are diverse in so many ways and I believe that our education should work for us as individuals as much as is possible. I think it’s important that I do everything in my power to teach in a way that reaches and works for as many students as I can. I think that technology can help with this goal, but I can also understand where Delisle is coming from. Ability grouping is something I think we should consider. I think it needs to be done in a way that still allows for the socialization that is part of age grouping, but when it comes to learning, making arrangements that allow students to get the instruction they need to learn. I would like to see both ideas recognized to provide equal education opportunities for all learners.