Literacy Teaching Toolkit Differentiation

Professor Lorraine Graham:

Well, differentiation is important in the classroom because it addresses the needs of all students from those who struggle to those who excel.

And what it really means is it's a way of tailoring what happens in your lessons so that you can meet as many of the students’ needs as possible.

And this can mean looking at different ways of arranging the content that you're teaching, different approaches to teaching that content, different assessment methods and ways that you ask the students to respond to activities that you might plan.

It also means that some of your classroom organisational routines and procedures might be somewhat different.

Grouping practices. Grouping practices are really important. That sort of flow from sometimes a focus on individual learners, sometimes small groups, and then whole class certainly as part of differentiated instruction.

Well, differentiated instruction is the sort of instruction that is absolutely key to all inclusive classrooms, because it takes into account the variation that you find with your group of students.

In terms of defining it, I've always liked Peter Westwood's way of speaking about and writing about differentiation.

And he said it is just a matter of doing things differently due to the identified needs of students. Just doing things somewhat differently.

It's not a different program for every student, but it's a way of thinking about how you can change and adapt different elements of the classroom in order to meet as many students needs as possible.

It was Carol Ann Tomlinson who talked about differentiation as being shaking up what happens in the classroom so that students have multiple pathways in terms of what they learn, how they learn it, and then how they express their learning as part of an activity or activities in the classroom around certain content.

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