There are five main reasons why teachers should differentiate instruction.
- Classrooms have different ability levels
- Students have different learning styles
- Students have baggage
- Students have different ethnic and cultural backgrounds
- Students have different socioeconomic backgrounds
Classrooms today are different than they were when I was growing up. In NY, we were separated by ability levels. Honor students were on one track, regents students were on another and then there was the local track. Most of our Special Ed students went to another school completely unless they were only receiving resource room. Today that is not the case. Most students in NY are required to get a regents diploma. Teachers need to be able to level every assignment because they are all grouped together, give or take a few honors classes.
Students have always learned differently. Even in gifted classrooms differentiated instruction is needed because of different interests or learning styles of the students as well as different talents. The use of Multiple Intelligences works well to grab the interest of students.
Students have baggage. Teachers don’t know what a student experiences at home. Making a choice on an activity might mean that the student can acquire a sense of power in themselves they might not otherwise feel. Many of our students live with abuse and neglect. We can actually help activities be an escape for that student by differentiating instruction and giving choices to students. (to read more about troubled students, click here)
Students have different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. One culture might put more of an importance on reading and writing and another might stress the arts. Some cultures encourage debating and speaking up in class to answer a question and others do not. We need to give all of these students a way to showcase their knowledge in a way they are comfortable with by differentiating instruction. (to read more about ethnic diversity, click here.)
Many students come from a lower socioeconomic status than their teachers. Most teachers come from the middle class. Socioeconomics needs to be taken into consideration for differentiated instruction because different classes stress importance on different things. For instance, the lower class puts more of an importance on humor than higher classes do. We can use humor in the classroom to differentiate instruction and keep the content relevant to the students. (For more on socioeconomic differences in the classroom, click here.)
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kasha-Mastrodomenico offers many social studies differentiated instruction options, check it out!