Have you ever heard, “how do you do differentiation?” As many resources tell us, differentiation is not something you do and tick off, it is more an ongoing philosophy or approach where we continue to really know our students and plan for their changing needs. In order to do this, we utilize various strategies that support this philosophy and approach.
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.
(Excerpted from: Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000). Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.)
At my current school one of our Divisional Goals is the following:
In order to meet the needs of all students, we will continue to plan for and practice differentiated learning throughout the ES grade levels and programs.
To help support this goal, we have implemented a few strategies/practices:
-We surveyed our staff to find internal resources on various strategies. (Modified this document)
-During planned faculty meetings, different teachers present and share samples of strategies they have used. Each time we have teachers share, we add another folder with resources for that particular strategy.
-Created a resource bank for teachers to pull from.
We are also implementing a simple code for differentiation to document our approaches in our planners.
We are on a continuous journey in our approach to differentiation.
What are you doing at your school to keep the differentiation discussion and philosophy alive?