- for a particular category of students (for example, special education, English learners, gifted education);
- something extra that teachers have to do in addition to their "normal" plans;
- oppositional to content standards;
- a way to "mollycoddle" students;
- a particular set of instructional strategies;
- extreme teaching - something only an occasional teacher can expected to do;
- something teachers already do.
I had these misconceptions before. When I was a young teacher first learning about differentiation, I also mistakenly thought that differentiation requires teachers to implement a special set of strategies for each individual student. Attending workshops about this topic, I usually obtained many different instructional ideas, but I did not always know how to effectively use them with my students. As the authors pointed out in the book, Managing a Differentiated Classroom, "Differentiation is a way of thinking about the classroom, not a specified set of tools." I also heard many teachers say that "We are already doing differentiation." It's important to point out that although teachers might use some sort intervention in responding to different students' needs, the approaches used are not always proactive and/or intentional.
"Differentiation is a way of thinking about the classroom, not a specified set of tools."
Step One: Identify OSCAR
First teachers need to identify lesson Objectives, Starting position, Criteria, Action pattern, and Reflections to determine any necessary adjustments to the instruction.
Step Two: Look and Listen
Then teachers need to get to know their students and their learning profiles by gathering student response in order to implement individual and group learning routines.
Step Three: CARR Check
in this stage, teachers give formative assessment to check understanding, and analyze data to determine how they can further support students. To help teachers use CARR Check, guiding questions are provided for teachers to reflect on the four elements based on the formative assessment data collected:
- Clarity: Is this task clear to all students? Are the words understandable by all students? Are students expected to understand vocabulary that may be vague, have multiple meanings, or are in unfamiliar contexts?
- Access: Could all students complete the task independently and feel capable?
- Rigor: How much effort is required of different students? What would students find complex?
- Relevance: Would all students find this task important, interesting, valuable, and/or useful?
Step Four: SHOp Adjustments
Finally, teachers use their formative assessment data to guide their instructional decision-making and provide options according. They might need to adjust Structures for tasks,Help and provide Options to respond to perceived learner needs. (I am unsure what the 'p' standing for.)
This is a very nicely put together evidence-based framework that is easy to follow. I particularly appreciated the concept that all learners learn every day. I rethink why we need to differentiated and how differentiated instruction can benefit all students. I had an a-ha moment. When teachers differentiate according to students' interests, readiness, and learning profiles, we actually try to increase their motivation, academic growth and efficacy. This make differentiation so much easy to understand. I begin to think about how this ALL-ED framework can be integrated with the IB programmes and what instructional ideas that might support teachers in implementing differentiated instructions.
Here is the model that I came up with: Differentiation is when everyone LEARNS.
- L: Look for patterns of need and create a safe and inclusive environment
- E: Establish purposeful and relevant curriculum and assessment mapping
- A: Analyze assessment data throughout to inform instruction decisions
- R: Refer to learning objectives and provide targeted and actionable feedback
- N: Nurture self-regulated learning behaviors and assist students in setting goals
- S: Structure lessons that promote thinking and stretches students
There are five classroom elements that teachers can differentiate or modify: content, process, products, affect and environment. When differentiating any of the elements, we consider students' interest, readiness, and learning profile. I think before teachers differentiate their class, we first need to consider affect (How students link thoughts and feeling in the classroom) and learning environment (the way the classroom feels and functions) as maslow always first! Using the MYP language, I identify content is the written curriculum; process is the taught curriculum; process is the assessed curriculum.
After synthesizing information from High Impact Teaching Strategies and cross-reference the 250+ Influences on Student Achievement, I identified some key strategies that teachers can use to differentiate content, process and product. I hope this model is easy to follow and helpful to teachers who want to implement the differentiated instruction.
Creating a caring and inclusive community: differentiation
- Bondie, Rhonda, and Akane Zusho. Differentiated Instruction Made Practical: Engaging the Extremes through Classroom Routines. Routledge, 2018.
- Tomlinson, Carol Ann, and Marcia B. Imbeau. Managing a Differentiated Classroom - a Practical Guide, Scholastic Inc., 2011, pp. 10–11.
- State of Victoria. “High Impact Teaching Strategies.” State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), June 2017, revised and updated October 2020.
- “250+ Influences on Student Achievement.” Visible Learning Limited Partnership and Cognition Education Group , Nov. 2017.