Even though differentiated instruction is not a new idea many teachers still don’t understand what differentiated instruction is.
When I first started teaching I thought I understood what differentiated instruction was but I really didn’t even though I was introduced to it in college. My definition of differentiated instruction at the time was that every student or group of students did something different during class.
This is an example of what my differentiated instruction activities were like. Students opened up a book and were assigned different sections of a chapter to do an activity on. My principal soon pointed out that all groups were doing different content so they weren’t getting the same amount of exposure to all of the content. I had to change my approach. My school really wanted us to differentiate instruction so I tried again.
When I differentiated instruction this time all the students used the same content for the activity. I separated them into three types of groups: low, medium and high ability levels. I created an assignment and gave it to the medium level then I decreased the questions or tasks and gave that to the lower group. I then added questions or tasks to the top level. After a while I realized this really wasn’t challenging the upper leveled group. I was just giving them busy work. Not higher level thinking work, just work. The lower level students still weren’t getting as much as the other students because I had taken part of the assignment out. This couldn’t be considered differentiated instruction either.
After a few years of teaching I finally understood what differentiated instruction was. Differentiated instruction is when every student uses the same content but in different ways that challenge and interest them all.
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