Differentiated instruction is essentially a framework or method to ensure that all students receive the type of instruction that meets their individual needs. Depending on your age/classroom structure/subject matter it might look differently. One way teachers often differentiate their instruction is to teach a whole group mini lesson on a particular thing (e.g. in 1st grade using details in writing) then, when students work independently or in small groups you can help students access the lesson in a way that makes sense to them. Here are also a few great examples:
Hope that helps!
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Jasmine explained it perfectly above and that link is very useful. Here is one more video that I don't believe is included on the blog post above:
Last year I took Carol Tomlinson's course "Differentiated Instruction" at UVA. It's tough to recap a full semester into one post, but here's my attempt!
When differentiating one of your units, remember to first establish clear learning goals for EVERY student to reach. Then differentiate your CONTENT, PROCESS, and PRODUCT according to students' Readiness Levels, Interests, and Learning Profile. (Readiness is students' starting point; it doesn't have the permanent label that "ability" does. See Dweck's research on growth mindsets. And Tomlinson's learning profiles: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/101043/chapters/The-How-To's-of-Planning-Lessons-Differentiated-by-Learning-Profile.aspx).
For example, teachers could differentiate the CONTENT by...
- Differentiating for Readiness by first pre-assessing. Then differentiate with text sets, native language support, extra resources (graphic organizers), audio/video supplements, or extension/enrichment curriculum. Small groups or stations can be one good way to deliver the differentiated content.
- Differentiating for Interest by using the "jigsaw" strategy, providing choices of texts, giving a "menu" of options, using a RAFT assignment with multiple options, etc.
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